Turbotodd

Ruminations on IT, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘smarter cities’ Category

Winning In Europe And Oklahoma

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IBM announced a couple of nice wins these past few days.

One, a partnership agreement between IBM and Itella, a leading provider of business services in Europe and Russia.

It’s a seven-year cloud computing agreement to help Itella streamline its business operations and improve its flexibility and time-to-market, and allowing them to focus on their core business and develop new services for their clients.

Itella provides postal, logistics and financial transaction process services in Northern and Central Europe, as well as Russia.

Specifically, IBM will build a private cloud to provide hosting as well as application management and development services to Itella. With the cloud, IBM will automate basic production of technology services as well as improve the quality and management of those services.

“Through this operating model renewal, we can adopt a flexible service delivery to increase automation and introduce best practices, utilizing IBM’s world-class competence,” said Jukka Rosenberg, Senior Vice President, Itella Mail Communications. “Through the partnership, we can make our operations more efficient and cut costs, without compromising our high-quality service.”

And nearly halfway around the globe and just north of here, the great state of Oklahoma is partnering with IBM to save $15 million over the next five years and to help improve services to state residents there.

As governments institute structural changes in the way agencies measure performance and deliver services, data analytics and new delivery models can help lead the way for transformations that realize a measurable return on investment and improved quality of life.

By analyzing business processes and consolidating IT projects, IBM will help the state gain significant savings in software licensing and technology maintenance costs— resulting in an expected IT budget recovery of 30 percent.

“At a time when we all have to learn to do more with less money, IBM has been instrumental in identifying and prioritizing IT consolidation projects for the state of Oklahoma, at the same time allowing us to invest in new services for our residents,” said Alex Pettit, chief information officer, state of Oklahoma.

“IBM brought not only its extensive public sector services experience to help create the initial business case for this project, but also worked with participating agencies to verify that the new technology environment would improve mainframe service and reduce costs.”

IBM helped the state to understand the challenges of providing IT services to various agencies with diverse requirements for data management and federal reporting.

The new IT infrastructure established a model for IT compliance with federal guidelines on program data and processes, using an IBM System z mainframe. IBM also helped the state meet project funding requirements—bridging the financial gap between the initiation of the project and the cost savings.

The agreement helps ensure that the delivery of technology services is more effective and more consistent. In addition, the new infrastructure gives each agency more control over the quality, performance, and support of their technology environment.

Ultimately, the consolidation of five mainframe platforms also yielded significant savings in costs and lower lease costs. The recommended options projected an 18-30 month payback period that would save 25–30 percent of the state’s combined annual IT budget.

IBM worked with the state on a detailed analysis of the IT infrastructure and opportunities to consolidate computing capacity, storage, network, backup and disaster recovery capabilities.

The plan included development of a target architecture, establishment of a high-level roadmap, and development of a services delivery schedule between the Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES), responsible for operating the consolidated environments, and each state agency.  

You can learn more about other of IBM’s smarter government initiatives here, and about IBM’s cloud computing offerings the likes of which it’s building for Itella here.

Blue Water

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Population growth, massive urbanization and climate change are placing increasing demands on our limited water supply. Forty one percent of the world’s population – that’s 2.3 billion people – live in water-stressed areas; this number is expected to grow to 3.5 billion by 2025.

And according to the United Nations, water use has been growing at more than twice the rate of population increase over the last century.

With advances in technology — deep computing and Big Data analytics linked to sophisticated sensor networks and smart meters — IBM is helping clients and partners make smarter decisions about water management.

By monitoring, measuring and analyzing water systems, from rivers and reservoirs to pumps and pipes, we can better understand the issues around water.  IBM is applying its expertise in smart systems and Big Data to help companies, governments and citizens understand and more effectively deal with these issues.

Waterfund LLC announced today that it has signed an agreement with IBM to develop a Water Cost Index (WCI).

Scientists from IBM Research will apply Big Data expertise, acting as a calculation agent, to analyze large and diverse unstructured data sets. This will be used to develop of a WCI framework that would estimate the cost of water in different regions around the world. With its market and financial product expertise, Waterfund will work to structure and commercialize the WCI.

Discerning The Real Cost Of Water

As governments are increasingly forced to turn to the private sector to fund the construction and maintenance of complex water networks, the Rickards Real Cost Water Index™ will serve as a benchmark for helping measure hundreds of critical projects on a like-for-like basis.

Index values will reflect estimated water production costs measured in US dollars per cubic metre for a variety of major global water infrastructure projects ranging from retail water utilities and wholesale water utilities to major transmission projects.

“The backlog of investment in water systems around the world by some estimates approaches $1 trillion – quite apart from the hundreds of millions of people who have never had access to a water or sanitation system at all,” said IBM Distinguished Engineer and Big Green Innovations CTO Peter Williams.

“By creating a benchmark cost for water we intend to harness the capital market to this supremely important cause. If we can make it easier to price investments in the water sector, we can improve the flow of capital into an area where it is desperately needed. We look forward to working with Waterfund to bring this about.”

Scott Rickards, President & CEO of Waterfund said, “The principal reason behind our decision to work with IBM was their unique combination of expertise in the water sector combined with the best data analytics available. Our initiative with IBM will finally bring real financial transparency to the water sector. By calculating the unsubsidized cost of freshwater production using IBM’s Big Data expertise, Waterfund can offer the first flexibly-tailored financial tools to investors in water infrastructure. The Rickards Real Cost Water Index™ highlights the energy costs, interest rate risk, and capital expenditures required to build and maintain large-scale water treatment and delivery networks.”

Smarter Water Management Examples

Typically, investors have turned to the public equity markets to gain exposure to the water sector, with mixed results. The WCI is intended to provide a market benchmark and to spur the development of third-generation financial products for both water producers and investors and to aid the growth of the water sector globally.

Here are two examples of how it would work:

Scenario 1: A Water Agency cannot obtain bank financing for Phase 2 of a seawater desalination plant project due to previous cost overruns on Phase

1. Yet the Agency lacks the water it needs to supply a contractually specified daily volume of water to its largest customer, with a consequent risk of large penalties for each day of insufficient volume. Using strike and trigger values based on the WCI, the Water Agency could purchase a $25 million, 2 year insurance product.

Payout to the Water Agency would be triggered on the total change in its Water Cost Index (as well as some other conditions, such as a specified increase in asset failure costs).  This approach would enable the Water Agency to enhance its overall credit profile with the insurance enabled by the WCI, finance Phase 2 of the desalination plant and meet its supply obligations.

Scenario 2: A large desalination and water transmission system project needs to secure private equity and institutional funding alongside that from development banks and sovereign funds, to the tune of one third of the total project cost. To achieve this, the project needs a way to reduce risk to its investors.

Based on movement in the WCI, the project could purchase $50 million in insurance. This would enable the insurance product to then be underwritten by a large reinsurer and allow the project to secure the private sector contribution it needs in order to proceed.

Go here to learn more about IBM Smarter Water Management initiatives.  You can also go here to register for a report IBM prepared on why we need smarter water management for our world’s most precious resource.

Austin’s F1 Debut Gets A Checkered Flag

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Britain’s Lewis Hamilton celebrates his Formula 1 victory in Austin yesterday Texas style, after overcoming two-time world champion Sebastian Vittel in a sneaky pass that Vittel never could recover from. Austin’s F1 race was the first held in the United States since 2007, and the first at Austin’s new “Circuit of the Americas” track. Over 200,000 fans from around the globe attended this first-of-its-kind event in Austin, many of them giving our fair city glowing reviews. To which I say, this was only our first, and it will only get better from here. (Photo: Getty Images)

Myself, along with a lot of other Austinites, learned quite a bit about Formula 1 racing over the weekend.

Though I didn’t get out to the track myself, I watched the entire race on TV.

Of course, I also did a bit of research leading into the race, and also interacted with some experts via social media during the race, which made the experience all the more helpful.

My general impressions are wow, those are some bad *** cars! What really struck me about F1 was the “Formula,” where the tinkering with the cars is limited mainly to that, so the focus is instead on strategy and tactics by the “constructor” crews and the drivers themselves.

One tank of gas, two sets of tires, the track (in this case, the “Circuit of the Americas”), and your pit strategy.

That seems to me to equalize the competition in a way you don’t see in every sport, making the viewing experience that much more compelling.

Lewis Hamilton from the U.K. took the top of the podium, forcing Sebastian Vettel to wait until the 20th and final race of the season to determine whether or not he’ll go “back to back to back” and win three straight F1 championships.

As for Austin’s ability to host an event of this size, so far, the reviews are pretty flattering. We were expecting over 200,000 people over the long weekend, and despite the expected traffic challenges, the event went off quite smoothly.

The virgin track certainly had some gripping challenges, but that actually made for a more scintillating race, and certainly didn’t keep the drivers from doing some aggressive passing. And the weather was simply perfect.

To my mind, it really starts to cement Austin’s reputation as an “international” city, and I’m looking forward to our hosting future races.

As for me personally, it’s official: I’m a converted F1 fan, and will be making it even more official by adding a new section to MyESPN home page!

Written by turbotodd

November 19, 2012 at 4:48 pm

Live @ IBM InterConnect 2012: Marie Wieck On Business In Motion

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Marie Wieck is general manager of IBM’s Application & Integration Middleware (AIM) business unit, where she leads an organization of more than 7,500 software development, marketing, services, and sales professionals. She is responsible for IBM’s WebSphere software portfolio and other strategic middleware products, including Web application servers, transaction and messaging systems, integration, and business process management solutions.

Marie Wieck is the general manager of IBM’s Application and Integration Middleware organization (home of IBM’s distinguished market-leading WebSphere brand), and has held a variety of technical and executive roles across our software, services, and finance groups.

In her current role, Marie leads an organization of more than 7,500 software development, marketing, sales, and services professionals. There, she is responsible for IBM’s WebSphere software portfolio and other strategic middleware products, including Web application servers, transaction and messaging systems, integration, and business process management solutions.

During our sitdown at IBM InterConnect, Marie shared some of the proceedings from her two “Hot Topic” sessions in Singapore, one on the Mobile Enterprise, and the other on Business Process management.

Marie also expanded on IBM’s emerging “mobile enterprise” strategy, explaining that rather than see mobile as another blip on the technology evolutionary radar screen, that rather it’s an opportunity to be transformative across the enterprise.

From fomenting front-line employee’s opportunity to be more collaborative in the field, to enabling back-office overlords to use their smartphones to watch over and manage business process management processes, IBM is working to bridge systems of record and of data together with employees and external constituents in a much more transformative story than has been communicated to date.

It’s an exciting narrative, and as Marie conveyed in the interview, mobile is touching the entire IBM portfolio.

The Electric Filling Station

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Click to enlarge. With IBM’s Intelligent Electric Vehicle Enablement Platform, drivers across Ireland will be able to use their mobile devices to locate their nearest electric “filling station” and even make a reservation to stop and charge their car.

Happy Monday.

A friend of mine from overseas sent me an article over the weekend featuring traffic horror stories around the globe.

Most of the stories were about emerging third world cities grappling with rapid growth, but one of them included a story about right here in Austin, Texas.  The gist of the story about Austin was this: The individual in Austin traffic noted they were sitting in a car by themselves in a long line of traffic, watching as empty buses and trams whistled by.

I won’t get started on trying to change the longstanding behaviors of Texas commuters, but I WILL highlight a new project IBM is providing some assistance for in Europe that has huge potential for, if not streamlining traffic, then at least helping bridge the gap to a more electric-oriented energy and transportation future.

The Public Charge

IBM today announced that it has teamed with ESB ecars to implement a fully integrated smarter charging IT system that will help manage electric vehicle public charge points, which are being rolled out across Ireland by ESB ecars.

With approximately 1,000 public charging-points currently available, ESB Networks is on track to deliver one of the largest integrated and operational electric vehicle infrastructures in Europe.

ESB Networks will use IBM’s Intelligent Electric Vehicle Enablement Platform to provide the services needed to operate and manage the charge-points installed throughout Ireland.

Together the companies will add a layer of intelligence and convenience to the charging process, allowing EV drivers to access, charge and pay, using an identification card.

Additionally, this project will provide utilities with access to energy usage data that can help improve smart grid operations, reduce power strain during peak charging times, and ensure reliable energy distribution to customers.

This project is bolstered by Ireland’s energy policy to increase sustainable energy use in the transportation sector by 2020. Today, the goal is to produce 40 percent of the country’s current electricity consumption from renewable energy and have electric vehicles represent every tenth car on Irish roads.

Charging Cars, Reducing Greenhouse Gases

Already on the renewable fast track, this integrated EV charging network will allow Ireland to also contribute to the European Union legislation to reduce greenhouse gas pollution levels by approximately nine million tones before 2020.

The new system accommodates the needs of all EV owners. The IBM EV platform will enable EV drivers to select convenient payment options and access all charge-points using one ID card — a process that will aggregate usage costs and simplify billing.

This smart charging capability allows consumers to charge anywhere at anytime, regardless of their electricity provider and without the need to carry multiple access cards. Additionally, drivers will also have the option to use a mobile device or browser to locate the nearest charge post, check its availability, and make a reservation if the post is available.

This initiative along with the recently announced Smarter Charging demonstration with American Honda Motor Co,. Inc. and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), as well as the EKZ Smartphone Application pilot, demonstrates IBM’s ongoing focus to improve driver services, increase renewable generation, and intelligently manage electric vehicles.

IBM is involved in more than 150 smart grid engagements around the world, in both mature and emerging markets. You can learn more about IBM’s vision to bring a new level of intelligence to how the world works—how every person, business, organization, government, natural system, and man-made system interacts, here, and you can learn more about electronic vehicle infrastructures here.

Written by turbotodd

October 1, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Lending A Helping Hand

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There are loads of conferences coming up.  In October, I’ll be attending and covering both the IBM InterConnect event in Singapore (October 9-11), and am currently preparing myself psychologically for the long plane ride.

Later in the month, from October 21-25, I’ll be covering the seventh Information on Demand event in Las Vegas, Nevada.

I’ll have more info on those soon, but in the meantime wanted to highlight another key event that will probably be flying a little under the radar, the Cúram International User Conference.

Entitled “Smarter Social Programs to Deliver Better Outcomes,” the Cúram event will be held starting tomorrow, October 1, through Thursday, October 4, at the Grand Hyatt Washington Hotel in Washington, D.C.

What’s notable about this particular event is its orientation towards helping people who help other people.

Social services organizations around the world find themselves in challenging times, with increasing demands for their resources and higher service expectations, at a time when tax revenues aren’t exactly peaking.

Many of those organizations have begun to leverage Cúram software to ensure they have the most fitting business and technology foundation to support those increasing demands.

At the Cúram event, attendees will learn about best practices from some of the more leading-edge social services practitioners, hear more about the latest social services trends, and network with their peers from around the globe.

They’ll also have the opportunity to see the latest Cúram solutions and technology in action, and meet Cúram integrators and partners.

You can learn more about the event here, and more about IBM Cúram software here.

Boxed In In Bangalore: Analyzing Sentiment On Indian Traffic Congestion

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Click to enlarge. With a population of more than 1.2 billion, India is projected to be the world’s most populous country by 2025. By 2050, it is estimated that India’s urban population will constitute nearly half of that country’s total population, straining an already stressed infrastructure. The good news: Urbanization is an indicator of positive economic development. With improved urban planning, India can tackle urbanization challenges and increasing population to create a country that is poised for sustainable growth.

We heard a number of discussions about the potential for social listening intelligence last week at the Smarter Commerce Global Summit in Orlando.

This is an area I’ve been involved in within the IBM team for several years now, starting with some early explorations for how social data could be informative for our marketing efforts stretching all the way back to 2008.

It’s been exciting to watch this space evolve and mature, and with the advent of the IBM Social Sentiment index, we’re starting to see very practical uses of social data for better understanding if not the wisdom, then certainly the perspectives, of the crowd.

Yesterday, IBM held a Smarter Cities Forum in New Delhi, India, where we unveiled a new social sentiment capability to assist our customers in their Smarter Cities engagements.

We also unveiled findings from the latest IBM Social Sentiment Index on traffic, which looked at public sentiment across India’s largest cities — Bangalore, New Delhi and Mumbai.

Boxed In In Bangalore

If you’ve never experienced traffic in India, you can get a taste of the Sunday traffic in this video I shot during my first visit in June 2010.

But the recent analysis of publically available social media showed that the worst congestion in India is primarily caused by accidents and bad weather (three out of four times) when looking at the three cities together.

It also indicated some interesting variations between the three. For example, social conversation in Mumbai about stress around traffic is about half as high as Bangalore and New Delhi; references to the impact of rush hour on congestion in New Delhi are between five and seven times more negative than in Bangalore and Mumbai.

With a wealth of online content and public commentary on social channels such as Twitter and Facebook, city officials need new ways to measure positive, neutral and negative opinions shared by citizens regarding important city issues.

IBM’s advanced analytics and natural language processing technologies used to analyze large volumes of public social media data in order to assess and understand citizen opinions are now available to city governments around the world via new capabilities delivered with the IBM Intelligent Operations Center (IOC) for Smarter Cities.

Making Cities Smarter: The IBM Intelligent Operations Center

The IOC — which combines IBM software and services to integrate city operations through a single dashboard view to help cities improve efficiency — is now augmented with social media analytics capabilities that will help city officials make more informed decisions by looking at unfiltered citizen attitudes and actions, distinguishing between sincerity and sarcasm and even predicting trends as they surface online.

Combining the knowledge that population will rapidly increase in Bangalore, New Delhi and Mumbai in the coming years, with sentiment on commuters’ preferred mode of transportation, could help these cities more accurately plan for needed investments in transportation infrastructure and its potential impact.

City officials could also gauge where public awareness campaigns need to be administered to shift commuters to different modes of transport in order to alleviate growing traffic congestion.

The IBM Social Sentiment Index on transportation in India’s three largest cities surfaced several insights including:

  • The top three factors impacting traffic congestion that citizens in each city talked about most online were diverse. Delhites chattered about public transportation, weather and the stress of commuting, while Bangaloreans show more concern for their overall driving experience, construction and parking issues, and Mumbaikars are talking about private transportation, accidents and pollution more often.
  • Conversation in Bangalore around parking is viewed three times more negatively than in the other cities. Despite recent infrastructure improvements, less pollution and a solid public transit system, Delhites are experiencing a far higher amount of stress (50 percent) than those in Mumbai (29 percent) or Bangalore (34 percent). Most likely, this can be explained by an uptick in rallies and weather events this year, as well as the recent power outage.
  • Surprisingly, sentiment on the topic of construction was relatively positive in Bangalore and New Delhi, and positive and negative sentiment on infrastructure in each was relatively even. Together, these may suggest that the transportation infrastructure improvements being made over the last two years in each city are beginning to positively impact citizens.
  • Analysis shows that the relative negative sentiment for rush hour (35 percent) is one of the key drivers impacting traffic in New Delhi, which may explain why citizens talk about stress significantly more than commuters in Mumbai or Bangalore.

By applying analytics capabilities to the area of social media sentiment, organizations are able to better understand public opinions, and city officials can gain additional insights in order to draw logical conclusions about where they should focus their attentions and resources.

For example:

  • Take Bangalore, the technology hub of India. Understanding that most commuters prefer private transportation despite negative sentiment around parking and construction may indicate that city officials should consider if it makes sense to advocate for more commuters to use mass transit and invest in infrastructure that will keep up with demand as more companies locate there.
  • Since Dehlite’s indicate that public transportation is the preferred mode of transportation, city officials could use this insight to study which areas have high ridership and less road traffic and then implement similar actions in highly congested areas.
  • In Mumbai, negative sentiment around traffic and weather at the peak of monsoon season (August) generated 5.5 times more chatter than in November. If the city could measure the fluctuation of public sentiment on these potential causes over time combined with specific weather data like rainfall or temperature, it might be able to better prepare to divert traffic during monsoon season or determine areas where a public safety campaign is needed.

“Like all rapidly growing cities across the world, there are infrastructure growing pains in many Indian cities,” said Guru Banavar, vice president and chief technology officer, Smarter Cities, IBM. “However, when city officials can factor public sentiment — positive, negative or otherwise — around city services like transportation, they can more quickly pinpoint and prioritize areas that are top of mind for their citizens. This could mean more targeted investment, improving a particular city service, more effective communication about a service that is offered, and even surfacing best practices and successful efforts that could be applied to other zones of a city.”

Methodology: IBM Cognos Consumer Insights And 168,000+ Discussions

Public social media content was analyzed by IBM Cognos Consumer Insight, which assessed 168,330 online discussions from September 2011 to September 2012 across social platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, Forums and News Sources and derived 54,234 High Value Snippets through a series of advanced filtration techniques for insight analysis.

The IBM Social Sentiment Index helps companies tap into consumer desires and make more informed decisions by looking at unfiltered consumer attitudes and actions, distinguishing between sincerity and sarcasm, and even predicting trends.

About the IBM Social Sentiment Index

The IBM Social Sentiment Index uses advanced analytics and natural language processing technologies to analyze large volumes of social media data in order to assess public opinions. The Index can identify and measure positive, negative and neutral sentiments shared in public forums such as Twitter, blogs, message boards and other social media, and provide quick insights into consumer conversations about issues, products and services.

Representing a new form of market research, social sentiment analyses offer organizations new insights that can help them better understand and respond to consumer trends. For more information about IBM Business Analytics go here.

You can also follow the conversation at #IBMIndex on Twitter.

For more information about IBM Smarter Cities go here, and follow the conversation at #smartercities on Twitter.

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