Articles - QESP
By John Stanley, Adjunct Professor, Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies, University of Sydney Business School, University of Sydney Roz Hansen, Adjunct Professor, Deakin University; Professorial Fellow, Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning, University of Melbourne
- Thursday, February 20th, 2020
We were heavily involved in the consultation program for Melbourne’s long-term land-use plan, Plan Melbourne. The idea that resonated most with many participants was shaping the city as a series of 20-minute neighbourhoods.
People generally loved the thought that most (not all) of the things needed for a good life could be within a 20-minute public transport trip, bike ride or walk from home. These are things such as shopping, business services, education, community facilities, recreational and sporting resources, and some jobs (but probably not brain surgery).
Creating a city of 20-minute neighbourhoods is a key policy direction of Plan Melbourne 2017-2050. As the plan states:
The 20-minute neighbourhood is all about ‘living locally’ – giving people the ability to meet most of their everyday needs within a 20-minute walk, cycle or local public transport trip of their home.
This planning idea has gained Melbourne recognition in international planning circles. For example, Singapore’s recent Land Transport Master Plan 2040 is based on shaping the city and its transport systems to achieve 20-minute towns within a 45-minute city. Officials who prepared the report have acknowledged to one of us Melbourne’s leadership with the concept.
By Josh Lowe
- Thursday, February 20th, 2020
The Italian government’s progress in digital transformation is instructive for countries looking to use a mix of private and public sector digital skills and approaches to kickstart transformation without huge resources, writes Josh Lowe.
Italy’s governing infrastructure is complex — and when a key project to bring municipalities together failed, the team was unafraid to reboot. The nation progressed quickly by building online communities of “early adopters”, focusing their attention on those who were keenest. There was also a cross-government approach, whereby digital project-management skills are considered vital to ensuring all parts of Italy’s public administration reaps the benefits of digital transformation
Diego Piacentini, a former Amazon executive who recently completed a two-year stint in Italy’s government, hasn’t gone soft during his time in the public sector: “Crucial tenet — don’t waste your time with people who do not want to listen, no matter what.”
But then, the Digital Transformation Team (DTT) Piacentini founded didn’t have time to waste. After hiring mostly from the private sector, the DTT brought in a rush of new skills and approaches via its lean, 40-strong staff.
By Stanford University
- Wednesday, February 19th, 2020
Battery performance can make or break the electric vehicle experience, from driving range to charging time to the lifetime of the car. Now, artificial intelligence has made dreams like recharging an EV in the time it takes to stop at a gas station a more likely reality, and could help improve other aspects of battery technology.
For decades, advances in electric vehicle batteries have been limited by a major bottleneck: evaluation times. At every stage of the battery development process, new technologies must be tested for months or even years to determine how long they will last. But now, a team led by Stanford professors Stefano Ermon and William Chueh has developed a machine learning-based method that slashes these testing times by 98 percent. Although the group tested their method on battery charge speed, they said it can be applied to numerous other parts of the battery development pipeline and even to non-energy technologies.
“In battery testing, you have to try a massive number of things, because the performance you get will vary drastically,” said Ermon, an assistant professor of computer science. “With AI, we’re able to quickly identify the most promising approaches and cut out a lot of unnecessary experiments.”
By Anthony Capon, Director, Monash Sustainable Development Institute, Monash University
- Wednesday, February 12th, 2020
The bushfires raging across Australia this summer have sharpened the focus on how climate change affects human health. This season bushfires have already claimed more than 30 human lives, and many people have grappled with smoke inhalation and mental health concerns.
The changing nature of bushfires around the world is one of the tragic consequences of climate change highlighted in “Our Future on Earth, 2020” – a report published on Friday by Future Earth, an international sustainability research network.
The report includes a survey of 222 leading scientists from 52 countries who identified five global risks: failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation; extreme weather events; major biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse; food crises; and water crises.
They identified these risks as the most severe in terms of impact on planetary health – the health of human civilisation and the state of the natural systems on which it depends.
By Ellen Heyting, PhD student in Education and Head of Years 11 and 12, Monash University
- Monday, January 27th, 2020
It started as a New Year’s resolution driven by guilt and a touch of sibling rivalry – but by the end of the year, it taught me valuable lessons as a teacher, including about the benefits of failure.
At Christmas dinner 2018, my sister declared she would buy nothing for a year. After living in Bangladesh for two years, she had seen how the world’s fashion industry was wreaking havoc on the country’s people and environment.
I decided to follow her lead. As an Australian living in Finland, I still can’t imagine going a year without a flight home to see family. So buying nothing (apart from groceries) would do something to offset all those carbon-costly air miles.
I’m also a high school humanities teacher, and realised what I was learning while trying to buy nothing could prove useful in a classroom.
By David Bowman Professor of Pyrogeography and Fire Science, University of Tasmania, Ross Bradstock Professor, Centre for Environmental Risk Management of Bushfires, University of Wollongong
- Thursday, January 23rd, 2020
Australia’s bushfire crisis has been unprecedented, so it demands an unprecedented national response. Never before has such a large area been burnt by multiple fires in a single fire season, including bushland in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania.
Victoria has already announced a state inquiry, and it’s inevitable there will be more to come. But some firefighters and other fire experts have raised legitimate concerns about the value of a national fire inquiry. Many fear Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s proposed national royal commission could end up being as ineffectual as past inquiries.
We’re not legal experts, so we can’t tell you whether a national royal commission or another type of federal inquiry is preferable. But as fire experts, despite sharing others’ concerns, we believe Australia does need a national fire inquiry – if it leads to real action.
For it not to be a waste of time and money, a national inquiry must be far-reaching, and its terms of references must include how Australia adapts to escalating bushfire risks, driven by a changing climate. It also needs to address the federal government’s current, largely hands-off role in bushfire management, and how that could change to better support existing state-based fire management.
By ABC News Breakfast By Patrick Wood
- Monday, January 13th, 2020
Australia could have avoided the scale of the devastating bushfires, Professor Ross Garnaut has said as he warned the situation would continue to worsen if there wasn’t global action on climate change, something he said didn’t have to come at the expense of the economy.
Professor Ross Garnaut has backed Scott Morrison’s plan to protect the economy
He outlined how Australia could still profit from minerals in a zero-emissions world
Professor Garnaut says carbon pricing is a “cheaper, faster” way to reduce emissions
The economist said he “strongly endorsed” Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s focus on reducing emissions without damaging the economy, and believed Australian industries could still reap the benefits of the country’s mineral resources in a zero-emissions world.
As this bushfire season has claimed lives and thousands of homes, Professor Garnaut has become a focus on the debate around climate change and the Government’s response.
That is because in 2008 he conducted a widescale review into the impact of climate change on Australia and its economy, and came to a conclusion: the nation would face a more frequent and intense fire season by 2020.
By Craig Dalton
- Monday, January 13th, 2020
Many of the issues that consume legions of public servants and media management time would be a non-event in the US, argues Craig Dalton.
Shortly after returning from the US to work in a state government agency, I received a bureaucratic culture shock. As a director of a public health unit, I was preparing to release information on childhood lead exposure. It was considered “sensitive”. About 6pm on the eve of the release, I received an enraged telephone call from the head of another agency. He was appalled at the level of transparency and openness with which I was approaching the release of information. He said the information was going to embarrass the government and that my primary job was “to protect the minister”. This sounded so bizarre that I laughed, which didn’t make matters better.
It sounded bizarre because I had spent the prior three years working for state and federal governments in the US, which has quite a distinct separation between politics and the bureaucracy. There was no sense of protecting the secretary of health (politically equivalent to a minister of health), and at times, departmental heads would publicly but politely and respectfully be in disagreement with the secretary.
By John Sweller, Emeritus Professor, UNSW
- Thursday, December 12th, 2019
Explicit guidance and feedback from teachers is more effective in teaching students new content and skills than letting them discover these for themselves.
This is a premise of cognitive load theory, which is based on our knowledge of evolutionary psychology and human cognition, including short- and long-term memory.
I started working on cognitive load theory in the early 1980s. Since then, “ownership” of the theory shifted to my research group at UNSW and then to a large group of international researchers.
By Angus Hervey
- Thursday, December 12th, 2019
We watched the news this year. Maybe you did too.
It didn’t look good. Countries on the verge of collapse, people taking to the streets, some in peaceful marches and extinction rebellions, other in violent clashes with security forces. Populism and and bigotry rearing their ugly heads, worming their way into the algorithms, power corrupting absolutely, the powerless ignored or locked in cages on the border. Trade wars, surveillance capitalism and ‘re-education camps,’ war-torn hotspots mired in conflict, a global economy seemingly incapable of fixing its excesses, the partisan battle lines hardening, the lies becoming more brazen. An entire species fouling its own nest, the emissions (still!) rising, wildfires burning and losses cascading across ecosystems.