You've heard of smartphones, smart appliances and smart grids, but what about “smart cities”? IBM (News - Alert), which has a large stake in newer “smart” technologies, would like to let you know it's helping Corpus Christi, Texas become such a city.
“Smart” technologies (like those being developed and marketed by IBM) are made up of solutions that essentially help the world run better (or at least with more information). IBM's portfolio now includes, among other things, solutions based on analytics to help municipalities manage water better, help utilities and consumers manage their electricity supply and usage, and even technologies for “smart computing.”
So, what's so important about Corpus Christi? The city has apparently joined a circle of cities, including London, Sydney, Stockholm and Amsterdam, which are special in how they use computer solutions to better manage water, trash, parks and more.
“Look at the way the planet is evolving in terms of demographics and environmental considerations,” Guruduth Banavar, chief technology officer of global public sector efforts at IBM, told AFP. “It is pretty easy to see that we need to do some things dramatically differently.”
It's no secret that urbanization and climbing population are putting stress on the environment, and problems are exacerbated by inefficient uses of energy, water and land. These kinds of “smart” technologies can collect data about pipes, streets, parks, traffic and other city infrastructure, helping city workers to better solve problems and find solutions. In some cases, the technologies can actually fix things before they even cease working, according to Banavar. “There is a lot of information available to us through technology that is not being put to use very well,” he said.
It's a major goal area for IBM. The company has made no secret that it's looking forward to a “smarter” future and emphasizing the need for a smarter national infrastructure that can be achieved, says the company, by using IT to upgrade the nation's roads, electric grid and health care system in a bid to increase their efficiency; to make America more internationally competitive and to create thousands of jobs, noted Forbes magazine last year.
IBM isn't alone in the endeavor. Competitors such as Cisco and Germany's Siemens (News - Alert) are also introducing solutions that collect, share, analyze and act on data from historically “dumb” city systems.
Banavar used the example of Corpus Christi, which went from tracking city work crews and projects on paper and index cards to getting real-time feedback and analytics regarding roads, buildings and more electronically. “Now, they have information to say why problems occur, where they are and what can be done to prevent them,” said Banavar. “At the end of the day, it is all about managing information to improve operations.”
IBM software is being used in Corpus Christi to manage wastewater treatment plants, reservoirs, approximately 1,250 miles (2,012 kilometers) of wastewater mains and a water treatment plant that can hold 170 million gallons (643,520 cubic meters), noted AFP.Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Tammy Wolf