Fast Rail for the Adelaide Hills

May 6, 2018

A recent front page of the Mt Barker Courier (21 Feb 2018) canvased a fast rail service to the Adelaide Hills and Southern Fleurieu from the Adelaide CBD. The headline idea is for a $1B fast rail service that could take passengers from Mt Barker to the city in 20 minutes following a new route through the Brownhill Creek area and down the centre of the Freeway with stops at Stirling and Hahndorf. It could then continue to Strathalbyn and then Victor Harbour and/or Murray Bridge.

While the $1B price tag is fanciful there is a lot of merit in the idea of bringing a passenger train back to the Hills. The article also canvassed slower but cheaper options costing between $50M and $350M and providing incremental benefits.

For those of you not old enough to remember, there used to be a passenger train service along the current freight corridor to Bridgewater. This closed in 1987, mainly due to the length of time that it took to get to the CBD along the meandering track through Belair National Park and the Mitcham Hills area. There is obviously still a freight line through the Hills, but the new government was elected on a promise to develop a rail freight bypass of the Hills, taking freight trains of Hills lines.

This provides an opportunity to bring a passenger train service back into the Hills on or near the existing rail freight corridor using new tilting train technology. This would allow trains to travel much faster and overcome the uncompetitive time taken by the former Bridgewater service.

A new high-speed passenger train service to the Adelaide Hills with stops in Adelaide Hills Council townships such as Stirling and Bridgewater would unambiguously benefit businesses and residents of the Adelaide Hills Council area. As the article states, fast rail would “…deliver a “renaissance in rail” that could drive economic growth, tourism and affordable living across the Hills and beyond.” Along with reducing traffic from the increasingly congested South Eastern Freeway during peak periods, the rail service would boost tourism in the Hills and would link Hill residents with major regional service centres such as Mt Barker and Strathalbyn.

The Adelaide Hills Council must join with other councils (in particular Mt Barker) and the State Government to explore this proposal in detail and develop a full business case for a fast rail in order to receive Federal Government support and funding. The Federal Government already has an interest in this area and it is only through the complacency of governments in our region that there is not a serious proposal on the table.


Indoor navigation on Smartphones is going to be HUGE!

July 12, 2013

Google Indoor Nav

Indoor navigation on Smartphones is going to be HUGE!

Why? Because we spend most of our time indoors, working, shopping, eating, at  a shopping mall, at the office, on campus, etc. GPS and Maps are great, but they only work outdoors and with clear line of sight to the sky. Indoors most Smartphones resort to using WiFi access point or cell tower positioning techniques which are far less accurate than GPS. This makes many location based apps unusable indoors.

However, the recent explosion of Smartphones with built in sensors, accelerometer, gyro, WiFi radios, and camera make indoor positioning possible. There are many companies working on software and/or hardware solutions to this problem using various methods. How useful these are depends on your Smartphone hardware, OS and external infrastructure available at the indoor location.

But if you are a developer who wants to incorporate indoor location into you latest app, how do you sort through these various techniques and technologies and incorporate a solution that suits your users needs?

What we need is a single one-stop solution for an app developer – a software development kit (SDK) or Application Programming Interface (API) available on all major platforms that provides the best indoor location capability. It needs to be a software only solution that utilises the available hardware and infrastructure that can be continuously upgraded as better technology becomes available.

This is a multi-million (if not billion) dollar opportunity as this software could be running on every Smartphone in the world and provide revenue every time a smartphone provides indoor location to a user.

I’m looking for people in Adelaide with an entrepreneurial bent and relevant skills to help me pursue this great opportunity. I am a Systems Engineer and Physicist with 20 years experience building complex complex software intensive systems in the Defence sector. I also have previous startup experience. Here is a link to my LinkedIn Profile. In particular, I am looking for someone with B2B marketing experience and a Smartphone app developer (preferably Android but iOS is OK).

Reply to this post below, email me at or contact me on 0414 716 903 if you are interested. I’m pitching this idea at Startup Weekend Adelaide (12-14 July) so it would be great if you could join me there so that we can get a start.

Why iPhone will always have a killer advantage over Android phones

May 14, 2013


As I contemplate my next smartphone purchase it has become apparent to me why iPhones, iPad and iPod Touches have a very significant advantage over Android phones which will be very difficult for Android phone manufacturers such as Samsung, HTC & LG to overcome (and also for that matter Windows Phone manufacturers such as Nokia).

It all stems from the common iOS operating system and associated apps that can largely run across this line of devices. Through the iOS app store and associated iOS app development ecosystem, Apple has built up a significant community of users and developers who are pretty much locking in to iOS devices. There are still many iOS apps that are not available on Android and many developers who still exclusively develop for iOS.

As I contemplate buying an Android phone (the new HTC One looks good) and ditching my almost out of contract iPhone 4S, I have to factor in the large number of iPhone apps that I have become very reliant on since I bought my first iPhone 3GS in 2010. Many of these are still not available on Android (even though there are almost certainly equivalents). Over the last 3 years I have accumulated almost 200 apps, many of which I have paid good money for. If I were to move to Android I would have to either re-buy the Android version or find an equivalent Android app with an associated learning curve. This would involve significant time and financial investment.

Conversely if I was an existing Android user on say a Samsung Galaxy S3 about to come out of contract, I have a multitude of phones from competing manufacturers to choose from e.g. the new HTC One mentioned above. I can easily move my suite of Android apps across to my new phone and the old manufacturer will loose my business. Android phone manufacturers are well aware of this and that’s why they’re heavily investing in manufacturer specific feature add-ons to Android e.g. Samsung Smart Pause and Smart Scroll. Ironically these will only serve to splinter the Android ecosystem more and destroy a main selling point of Android phones – that of being able to easily switch devices an take your apps with you and not being locked in to a single manufacturer.

This means that Apple is going to have a significant advantage as a smartphone and tablet manufacturer over it’s competitors for the foreseeable future.

Partners wanted for SA MEGA Project 2011

February 22, 2011

I am looking for partners who are interesting in joining me to pursue an idea as a project for the SA MEGA program. The MEGA program is a Digital Entrepreneurship Masterclass & Business Challenge. More info on MEGA can be found here:

I have an idea for a bushfire emergency warning system that utilizes smartphones, the Internet, crowdsourcing, real time weather forecasts and modeling to allow people to make decisions about their own safety on high fire danger days. While the system would initially be developed for bushfires, I am aiming to expand it to cover other types of disasters such as severe storms, floods, cyclones, tsunami, earthquakes etc. It may also be able to be adapted to provide real time information on other events e.g. traffic conditions, civil unrest etc.

I am a Systems Engineer with over 18 years experience building complex technical systems working for other companies and want to break away and pursue the entrepreneurial dream of starting my own high technology business. I am looking for people who can complement my technical and managerial skill sets – particularly in the areas of business and finance and marketing and creative skills areas. If you fit this bill, are Adelaide based and have an yearning to create something new, exiting and potentially life saving as in my idea please contact me at or comment on this post. Also let me know if you know of someone else who might be interested.

My preference is for someone who has also been accepted into the 2011 SA MEGA program but I would be willing to work with people outside of the program. This may be a good opportunity for someone who is interested in the SA MEGA program to participate vicariously as applications for 2011 are now closed.

Leith Mudge

Why the NBN is good for Australia

October 3, 2010

The Government’s National Broadband Network (NBN) was one of the main issues of the recent Federal election. In fact, it was probably one of the main determining factors of the eventual outcome, with the conservative independents citing it as one of the key reasons that they supported Labor. The fact that the Coalition wanted to scrap it and replace it with a slower but cheaper option didn’t help their cause either. I was a vocal critic of the Coalition’s policy on the NBN, even actively campaigning against it online through (among other things) a Facebook causes site.

The fact is that the broadband infrastructure in Australia is grossly inadequate to support the sorts of high technology, value added industry that we aspire too. For such a geographically challenged country (i.e. highly dispersed population centres separated by long distances) our investment in broadband networks has been under-done. When compared to the broadband networks of other developed countries in Europe, North America and Asia we are loosing out on a competitive edge for our industry – not just in the high technology area but in general. A fast broadband network makes activities such as telecommuting and other forms of working remotely, much more viable with resulting benefits in reduced traffic congestion, stress, pollution (including greenhouse gasses) and allowing people to better engage with their local community rather than spending time travelling.

In the 19th century it was rail-roads, in the 20th century it was electricity and telephone networks and in the 21st century it will be broadband digital data networks that will drive our economic and social development. The development of a National Broadband Network will be the sort of nation building project that the Snowy Mountains scheme was in the 1950’s.

History has shown that this sort of project will not go ahead at the required scale unless driven by governments. The dispersed nature of the Australian population means that servicing regional and remote country areas with the required grade of service is not necessarily economically viable for private industry (yet much of Australia’s wealth is generated in these areas.) In addition the sorts of technical and financial risks that are involved in building such networks mean that only the Australian Government has the capacity to drive their establishment.

There are precedents for this sort of project. The Electricity Trust of South Australia (ETSA) was created by South Australian Liberal and Country League (LCL) premier Tom Playford through the nationalisation of the Adelaide Electric Supply Company (AESC) in 1946. Before then it was a private company (with headquarters in London) which held a monopoly over electricity supplies in Adelaide at the time. It was the company’s refusal to use brown coal as advocated by Playford, even going to the extent of buying black coal only boilers, which triggered the request from Playford for Commonwealth funds to nationalise the company – Labor Prime Minister Ben Chifley readily agreed. The LCL suffered a split in its ranks with regard to nationalisation, and the state legislation only passed with the support of ALP and independent members of parliament. ETSA participated in the post-war growth and industrialisation of the South Australian economy, including providing modern and reliable power for regional areas. As a vertically integrated generator, distributor and retailer of electricity, ETSA was responsible for the development of new energy sources (brown coal mined at Leigh Creek), two major power stations (Port Augusta and Torrens Island) as well as expanding the electricity distribution network to areas where there was no supply, or low voltage (32 volt) supply generated locally.

Tom Playford recognised that to provide the necessary electricity generation infrastructure to grow the South Australian economy, only the government was could be trusted and have the resources.

The Opposition’s proposed alternative is a hastily thought, sub-standard alternative that relies on the private sector to provide the majority of the funding and uses old technologies to provide a poorer grade of service. While it is currently projected to cost less, this does not necessarily mean that it will actually meet the needs of Australia and our future economy.

Detention Centres

September 18, 2010

The Australian Government today decided to open more detention centres in remote areas of Australia to hold the supposed hoards of unwanted and unwelcome immigrants arriving on rickety boats from mostly war torn countries. It seems like we have only one policy for these people regardless of who is in government – lock them up because they are supposedly a threat to the fabric of society.

However there are some things that I think that we need to remember:

  • Seeking asylum is nor illegal (in fact is protected under Australian and International law.)
  • The overwhelming majority of asylum seekers who arrive by boat – 90 per cent – are found to be legitimate refugees, many are traumatised and/or have suffered torture.
  • Detaining traumatised people in remote locations far from support services has long term negative impacts on their mental health.

While I am not a fan of detention centres – I accept that there may be a need for temporary detention while people are being processed but this detention should be near support networks and services. Generally this would be in or near a capital city, not in remote or regional areas where these are not available and often the local community can be resentful and hostile. Secondly an enormous amount of money is required to accommodate these people in remote areas. It would be a lot cheaper to have them housed in or near capital cities where the costs are cheaper. Thirdly the processing should be quick and efficient and the asylum seekers should receive the same rights as any one else under Australian law. We should not have a situation where asylum seekers are indefinitely locked up in  detention centres as occurred under the previous Coalition government.

I think that our irrational fear and hysteria of ‘hoards’ of boat people arriving has clouded our Government’s judgement. Let’s face it – we are not trying to punish these people for being asylum seekers. Detain them temporarily if you must – but make sure that you give good living conditions, full access to services and legal rights. And don’t locate them in remote or regional areas so that they are ‘out-of-sight, out-of-mind’.

Toxic Waste

September 14, 2010

Recently I came across the Hazardous Waste Landfill at Kölliken, Switzerland. This toxic waste dump located in a residential area was operated between 1978 and 1985 and served as the dumping ground for the local chemical industry. It was operated until it was discovered that waste was contaminating the local water supply. Re-mediation efforts began in 1986 and are scheduled to be complete by 2015. Among other technological innovations,  the re-mediation effort has resulted in the construction over the site of the second-largest wide span hall in Europe with a negative internal air pressure to prevent further contamination of surrounding areas. It is interesting to note that the site operated as a dump for just 8 years, yet by the time it will have been re-mediated back to it’s natural state it will have taken almost 30 years.

In Australia this would be seen as a stuff-up of the most extreme kind and a source of shame and anguish – like the Wittenoom Asbestos mine in Western Australia. However in Switzerland there seems to be a form of perverse pleasure and almost a celebration of the technological achievements that have resulted (through necessity) from the re-mediation effort. At a recent open day, visitors even posed for photographs in a dummy chemical protection suite. If you don’t believe me, see for yourself, the photos are posted on the web.

I don’t know how to take this – it is both funny and sad at the same time. There is also a sense of delight that so many technological advances can come from such an environmental disaster. Let’s hope that this sort of stupid disaster and other debacles like Wittenoom and the BP Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill, never happen again.