​CSIRO engaging Australians for energy research

The CSIRO Energise app has been developed to allow individuals contribute to national energy research in Australia.

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With energy a hot topic in Australia, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) is looking for a better way forward for providers and consumers.

However, as understanding the way Australians consume energy is complex, CSIRO has created a new system, the Energy Use Data Model (EUDM), in a bid to provide meaningful and accessible data to "unlock the mysteries of energy behaviour" which hopefully results in the delivery of the most efficient energy future for Australia.

Speaking with ZDNet about the initiative at D61+ LIVE in Brisbane last month, Kate Cavanagh, a project manager at CSIRO's Energy Business Unit, explained the EUDM is a large, online platform that provides public energy-related data on anything from usage, installation data, prices and tariffs, historical data, trends, zone substations, as well as the energy consumption of particular areas in Australia.

"At the moment, energy data is scattered all over the place and it's hard to access," she explained. "Our portal is a one-stop-shop where you can go in and search around -- you can be directed to other websites and other organisations that do energy data."

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CSIRO is essentially targeting energy researchers from industry and government, however anyone that has an interest can access the data and play around with it. Cavanagh and the teams at CSIRO hope the outcome is greater insight for the country's energy system.

"It is hoped the data can be used for better services to the consumer, as well as better decisions made around infrastructure, into policy making," she said. "Energy is very topical at the moment."

In conducting the project, CSIRO realised it didn't really know a lot about the residential household and how people are interacting with, and use, energy, so to collect that data it developed a surveying app in CSIRO Energise.

"We push out surveys every couple of weeks and they ask residents about their household, their dwelling, what it's made out of, the appliances that they use, how much control they feel they have over their electricity use, the prices they're paying, so all of this information is being fed back into our research team to answer the research questions and hopefully it will end up on our energy use data model," Cavanagh said, calling it a citizen scientist initiative.

"In the app we also provide insights directly from our research team back to the users."

Currently in pilot form, CSIRO hopes users will provide feedback to help guide the future of energy data available to enable insights into Australia's energy system.

Disclosure: Asha McLean travelled to D61+ LIVE as a guest of Data61

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