It all begins in 2009 with Australia’s CSIRO constructing the Australian Square Kilometre Array Program (ASKAP) – the world’s fastest survey radio telescope, located in the Western Australia desert.
To understand the ASKAP project is to understand the term “large scale”. Everything was bigger – from the 36 huge parabolic antennas across its remote site to the thousand million million operations per second that each receiver would perform. As a result, more than six million precision components were needed – made to not only do the job but withstand the elements.
With that many parts, CSIRO’s Platform Solution Architect Matt Shields understood the need for an advanced database system that would manage the many physical parts spread across this large infrastructure project. And so, Matt and his team created the “ASKAP Hardware Tracker” – to do precisely that. Each part could be scanned with a unique serialised ID, to follow its entire lifecycle including any revisions, modifications and fault history.
On this large specific project, the ASKAP Hardware Tracker was a vital cog in the machine. And yet, Shields saw potential for this technology in other areas.
After all, some 20 years earlier, a team at the very same CSIRO had been researching black holes when they famously happened to discover wireless internet (WiFi) along the way. With the ASKAP telescope up and running, could there also be another by-product useful for everyday life?