Sense-T 2012-2014Creating a digital view of Tasmania's economy

Sense-T 2012–2014A report on achievements during the foundation period


What is Sense-T?

Based in Tasmania, Australia, Sense-T collects data from a range of different public and private sources. We particularly focus on real-time data from sensors.

Then we give it back to businesses, governments, researchers and communities in ways that support them to make decisions; to help make things more efficient, competitive and sustainable.

Sense-T is a shared community resource that means we don’t have to collect data every time we have a new question to ask or problem to solve.

We've started with data about food production. Now we’re adding other industries, so that over time Sense-T will generate a real-time digital view of the whole economy.


How Sense-T works

Sense-T is a partnership between the University of Tasmania, CSIRO and the Tasmanian Government. It is also funded by the Australian Government.

Advisory Panel

“Sense-T was conceived more than two years ago now as an extremely ambitious public/private sector research and commercialisation model with a number of novel practical and conceptual dimensions.

The Advisory Panel has faced both a challenging and rewarding past two years as we have worked with the Sense-T foundation members and the Program Office to turn theory into practice.

The fact that work has progressed to the stage that several trial projects are now in the field is testament to the skill, dedication and commitment of all of those public and private sector organisations involved.

In particular, the very strong team culture that has developed over this period led by the Director and staff of the Program Office has been critical.

The work being undertaken under the Sense-T Program has already attracted both national and international interest and the next 12 months are going to be critical to longer term success of the model. The Advisory Panel is confident this will be achieved.”

— Brian PinkAdvisory Panel Chairperson

Members of the advisory panel

  • Brian PinkAdvisory Panel Chairperson

  • Professor Paddy NixonDeputy Vice Chancellor (Research), University of Tasmania

  • Glenn WightwickDirector of Research and Development, IBM Australia

  • Chris VeinCIO for Global Technology Development, World Bank

  • Jan DavisCEO, Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association

  • Dr Ian OppermannCEO, SIRCA Technology

  • Fiona WilsonDeputy Secretary, Strategy Enterprise and Regions, DEDTA

  • Ros HarveyFounding Director, Sense-T

Vision & Progress

“There’s nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come and that’s what we appeared to have with Sense-T.”

— Professor Peter RathjenVice Chancellor, University of Tasmania


Sense-T has met or exceeded all milestones and, most importantly, it is already delivering tangible benefits for Tasmania.

Key achievements

  • Highly-skilled jobs and research positions
  • Prototype sensing technology, smart phone apps and online tools for farmers
  • Commercial big data platform in development
  • New businesses to Tasmania
  • International investment in research
  • Leveraged $3.6 million of government funding into $20 million of public and private investment
  • Advanced research driven by communities in agriculture, viticulture, aquaculture and water management
  • Published research outcomes, with 13 journal papers and 25 conference papers
  • World-leading data management policies and data privacy techniques
  • A unique business model focussed on sustainability
  • International recognition for Tasmania

From the Founding Director

“We’re designing the system to be open, sustainable and scalable. To get the real benefit for our community, we have to be able to do all three.”

— Ros HarveyFounding Director, Sense-T

Research Projects

Sense-T has an intensive research agenda, bringing together ICT experts with researchers and end-users to solve complex industry challenges using real-time data and sensing technology. Research projects during the foundation stage have focussed on agriculture and aquaculture.

The outcomes will be prototype smart phone apps and web tools that help farmers manage production. Involving end-users from the beginning of projects is integral to the way Sense-T works. Farmers and industry representatives helped design the projects and also participate in advisory groups to oversee their implementation.

Sense-T also brings in a range of partners from the public and private sectors to contribute their resources and expertise. Not only does each project work to solve specific scientific problems, they also contribute to the ever expanding data resource that Sense-T is creating, adding more complexity to the digital view of the Tasmanian economy


Beef & Dairy

This project is led by scientists from CSIRO and the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture, which is based at UTAS. It is focussed on the Circular Head region in North West Tasmania and is creating prototype tools for beef and dairy farmers driven by real-time sensor data.

These tools aim to help farmers optimise the growth of pasture, rapidly identify when cows are on heat, and manage overall input and output costs as they relate to milk quality.

Photo by Simon de Salis

Project details

Jan 2013
Due for completion
Dec 2014


  • Trial sites established at four Tasmanian farms
  • Cattle fitted with bio-sensors to record health and behaviour
  • Early online prototype developed to predict pasture growth rates
  • Evaluation of bio-sensor data to classify cattle behaviours
  • Milk production ontology to link bio-physical data with input / output prices

Research Outcomes

  • 3 conference papers


Led by scientists from CSIRO and UTAS, this project is creating prototype tools and applications for the aquaculture industry and the government regulator.

It is initially focussed on Pacific oyster farming, creating prototype smart phone apps and online tools to inform decisions on harvesting closures due to consumer health risks and to optimise production. The project also involves the development of new sensing technology.

Project details

Jul 2012
Due for completion
Dec 2014


  • Created award-winning AquaDS system to support the regulator to make decisions about closing oyster harvesting based on environmental data
  • Prototype smart phone app in testing with oyster farmers
  • Six purpose built telemetry units deployed in oyster leases
  • On-farm testing of the world's first oyster bio-sensor
  • Federation of data from public and private sensors

Research Outcomes

  • 8 conference papers
  • 8 journal papers


This project is led by scientists from CSIRO and the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture, which is based at UTAS. It is developing prototype early alert systems for botrytis and frost to support harvesting decisions by grape growers. The project involves close collaboration with Wine Tasmania.

Project details

Jul 2013
Due for completion
Dec 2014


  • User requirements workshop with 20 industry representatives
  • Sensors installed at four vineyard trial sites
  • Detailed maps of frost injury, disease severity and other vine data
  • Sensor data analytics services and a prototype Web application for botrytis risk and other environmental phenomena
  • Early prototype of smart phone app for grape growers

Research Outcomes

  • 2 conference papers
  • 3 seminars
  • 1 tutorial

Water Management

This project is led by scientists from CSIRO and UTAS and also involves the Tasmanian Government and the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association. It is focussed on the Ringarooma and South Esk catchments where sensor and communication technologies are being used to monitor the availability of water for irrigation and the health of the waterways in real-time.

Prototype tools will support farmers in working together to manage their water resources as a community, within the policies set by government.

Project details

Jul 2013
Due for completion
Jun 2015


  • Early prototype tool used to prevent regulatory intervention, maintain water access for 70 farmers along the Ringarooma and protect the health of the catchment.
  • New sensors installed throughout the Ringarooma
  • Federation of data from sensors owned by DPIPWE and the Bureau of Meteorology
  • Detailed interviews with farmers to develop water sharing methodology
  • Data for hydrological low-flow modelling collected

Research Outcomes

  • 1 journal paper
  • 2 conference papers

Pathways to Market

This is an extensive research collaboration that will collect real-time data about the conditions under which food is produced, processed, transported, stored and sold. That information will be available to consumers, producers and distributors as part of the research project to enable them to make decisions based on real time data. It received $2.5 million funding from the Australian Research Council, with additional funding raised from industry and research organisations.

Project details

Jun 2014
Due for completion
Dec 2018


  • University of Tasmania
  • Greenham Meats
  • Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association
  • Institute for Choice, University of South Australia
  • Grey Innovation
  • Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences
  • Australian Bureau of Statistics
  • World Bank Group

Sensor Technology

Sense-T is also developing the next generation of sensing technology through a partnership with Grey Innovation. New agricultural sensing technology is being trialled at sites across Tasmania.

Sensor at Pooley Vineyard, Tasmania

These sensors are quick to install and easy to operate. Each installation will be able to support thousands of separate sensor points, allowing for precision farming based on real-time microclimate data.

The sensors measure characteristics like soil moisture, temperature at various depths, above ground temperature, relative humidity, solar radiation and leaf wetness.

Other technologies are pushing the boundaries of our knowledge of the natural environment, like sensors capable of measuring the heartbeats of oysters being developed with CSIRO.

Directly attached to oysters, these sensors measure heart rate, temperature, feeding and position in the water column.

The world-first sensors are currently undergoing testing on oyster farms. It is hoped that the sensor data can be combined with other environmental data to optimise production and minimise environmental impact.

Sense-T is also testing sensor collars for cows which have been developed by CSIRO to measure the cows’ movements. Scientists are using the data to predict when cows are on heat, monitor health and support feeding decisions for individual cows.

The Big Data Platform

In October 2013, Sense-T began working with leading Australian technology company, Sirca, to build its commercial big data platform. This will ensure that Sense-T can operate across the research and commercial sectors, with a fully supported 24/7 platform.

The platform is designed to ingest, collate, analyse and distribute large amounts of structured and unstructured data in real-time. It will be the gateway through which businesses, researchers, government and communities can access the data they need to innovate.

Sense-T, with Sirca, is addressing the complex issue of offering open access for reusing and repurposing data, while maintaining the privacy of confidential data.

Sense-T's privacy approach has been endorsed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and involves complex and unique statistical techniques. This puts Sense-T at the forefront of international developments in data management.

The Future

“We will expand our research areas and deliver the pre-commercial trials of new agricultural sensing technology.”

— Ros HarveyFounding Director, Sense-T

“I think we’ll see some cemented partnerships with major international corporations.”

— Professor Peter RathjenVice Chancellor, University of Tasmania

Photo by Ben Clews

Working with Partners

Sense-T works with many amazing partners to help guide and develop the whole program, as well as on specific research and commercial projects. The Sense-T team is very grateful for the invaluable resources and expertise that its partners bring to the table.

“I’m focussed on making sure the researchers understand the points that we need covered and are designing the projects to meet those needs.”

— Jan DavisCEO, Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association


The Sense-T Program Office is hosted by the University of Tasmania. Project researchers are located within their schools or laboratories in partner organisations.

Contact us

+61 3 6226 7213
Postal Address
Sense-T Program Office
Private Bag 113
Hobart Tasmania 7001

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