Turbotodd

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

Archive for the ‘sustainability’ Category

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.

Preppers

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Buenos dias.

I hope those of you in the northeast still without power find yourselves in the range of AC/DC again very soon.

I’ve been reading some fascinating stories about the lengths to which people have gone, especially from downtown (below, say, 40th Street), to find power enough to charge their cellphones.

Hey, I’d be right there in line behind you (although I’d try the Google solar recharging tchotchke I got several years ago first).

I’ve also been reading about the comeback of pay phones.  I didn’t even know there WERE any payphones left in NYC, but yes, there’s actually some 12,000 of them (down from 35,000 at their peak).

Because I was a New York City bike messenger once upon a time, I am very familiar with NYC pay phones. When I used to traverse the streets of Manhattan riding around moving vehicles like a crazy person, I had two pieces of technology: My Sony Walkman, and a beeper.

Whenever that beeper went off, I would head straight for a pay phone so I could call into my dispatch to grab another pick up.

But to imagine that a landline pay phone was my last line of communication defense…well, that’s what it’s come to for so many New Yorkers.

Some other good news I’m hearing: 14 of the city’s 23 subway lines were expected to open (though the 3, 7, B, C, E, G, and Q trains remain dark), which should go a long way towards alleviating some of the ridiculous auto traffic seen in NYC yesterday.

And the Cuomo plan to require three folks to a vehicle coming into Manhattan, though a heavy hand, is also not a bad idea, at least until more public transport can get up and running.

I’m also amazed that LaGuardia Airport opened this morning, especially after seeing those flood waters leaning up towards the jetways just two days ago. I imagine there will be lines of folks wanting to get out of town.

As for me, I’m sitting back taking some notes for my own disaster “crash” kit.  No use not turning these lemons into lemonade.

First on my list, other than plenty of fresh water and three days of non-perishable food: One of those combination hand cranked cell-phone recharger, flashlight, and weather radio. I’ve read about too many people who just didn’t know what the —— was going on, and that alone would drive me absolutely crazy.

A small, portable stove with a minimum week’s worth of fuel.

Small packages of dried instant coffee and powdered Gatorade.

Some sealed packages of beef jerky, power bars, and MREs (because I’ve seen so many complain about eating only bananas and power bars for three days stuck in their apartments)

Cash, and plenty of it.

Tell me what else I’m forgetting, my NYC area kinsmen.

Ready.gov had a whole list of basic and additional emergency supplies that’s worth a look see here.

Hang in there, NY, CT, and NJ.  You’re almost back up on your feet, and the rest of the country is cheering you on.

Written by turbotodd

November 1, 2012 at 2:50 pm

The Blackout In India

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To my friends in India, I hope you’re fairly weathering your blackout.

I was just reading through some BBC coverage which has reporters spread across northern India, including Utter Pradesh, Delhi, Rajasthan, and West Bengal.

The report suggests Calcutta was not as badly affected as other regions, because it has a private electricity board, but that power went out across the rest of West Bengal state.

Thus far, coverage suggests the power breakdowns in India are mainly in the north, the east, and the northeast, and that about 600 million people have been in affected in over 20 Indian states.

To put that in perspective for those of us here in the west, that would be like the power going out across all of the U.S. and all of the United Kingdom, at once.

Yes, just imagine that.

Obviously, there will be lots of fingerpointing until an investigation can get to the bottom of this, but in the meantime it demonstrates once again how fragile infrastructure can be, in both emerging and advanced economies.

In the Northeast blackout of 2003 here in the U.S., some 55 million U.S and Canadian citizens were impacted and some left without power for up to 16 hours.

Though there was no major civil unrest during that particular blackout, one need simply just read the Wikipedia entry of that event to remember how many “systems” were impacted: everything from transportation to healthcare to water supply.

In India, telecommunications are being particularly hard hit in this outage, because so many people there depend on mobile phone service for their communications.  Even if the cell towers have backup generators, many folks in rural India have no alternative method of recharging their cell phones once that primary charge dissipates.

Also, business process outsourcing companies such as Wipro, Genpact, WNS and others have “kicked in business continuity plans” to ensure continuity of services to global clients. Thus far, The Hindu Business Line is reporting that the IT-BPO industry, which accounts for over 7% of Indian GDP, are running their operations at centers in the north and eastern India using backup generators running on diesel.

The Wall Street Journal India has an “IndiaRealTime” blog where you can follow the latest on the India power outage.

Trash Talk

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Click to enlarge. Given increasingly finite resources, individuals and businesses depend on balanced natural ecosystems for raw materials, water and energy. Given the links among its systems, a business committed to practicing sustainability considers both the immediate and far-reaching consequences of any action it takes and its direct impact on the environment. This IBM infographic showcases how the responsibility of sustainability starts with the individual — the individual awareness and behavior that contributes to the broader impact to help drive energy efficiency, conservation and other environmentally protective practices, making good business sense.

Tired of taking out the trash?

This morning, IBM announced a collaboration with Recology, San Francisco’s resource recovery company, to continue reducing landfill disposal by further improving recycling programs designed to help the city achieve zero waste by 2020.

San Francisco’s diversion rate — the amount of waste diverted from landfill disposal — totals 78 percent, the highest in the country. Just last year, independent studies named San Francisco the Greenest City in North America due to advanced recycling programs.

In collaboration with IBM Business Partner Key Info Systems, Recology is using IBM’s smarter computing approach to IT to manage and mine large sets of data to determine types and quantities of materials in San Francisco’s waste stream.

With the use of IBM’s Power System, Recology pinpoints the location, types and amount of waste that needs to be collected for sorting or composting.

Gleaning insights from this information allows Recology to identify the most effective recycling programs for different business districts and neighborhoods.

By tailoring recycling programs and services in this way, Recology operates more efficiently, which helps protect the environment and saves costs, which helps cities better manage collection and disposal fees — all steps that ultimately benefit residents and businesses.

Reducing Landfill Waste By Nearly 50%

As a result of this smarter approach to recycling, Recology customers in San Francisco have reduced the garbage they send to the landfill by 49.7 percent, from 730,000 tons in 2000 to 367,300 tons in 2011.

By recycling 1.2 million tons of paper, the program has saved 20 million trees; by recycling 174,000 tons of glass, enough energy was saved to power the city’s cable car system for nearly three years; and, by recycling 135,000 tons of metal, 19 million gallons of oil was saved.

Improved recycling services give customers the means to participate every day in programs that directly benefit the environment and to better manage their disposal costs.

Recology offers 20 distinct recycling programs in San Francisco, more than any other city in the U.S. Yet the monthly fee paid by residential customers is equal to or less than the fee charged in other major cities.

Curbside Composting: Diverted 1.1 Million Tons Of Food And Plants

The Curbside Compost Collection Program provided by Recology in San Francisco has diverted 1.1 million tons of food and plants from landfill disposal and turned that material into nutrient-rich compost used by local farms and vineyards to grow healthy crops.

Since its inception, the compost collection program has reduced carbon emissions by more than 347,500 metric tons. That is equal to offsetting emissions from all vehicles crossing the Bay Bridge for 2.1 years.

San Francisco greenhouse gas emissions are nearly 12 percent below 1990 levels and have exceeded emission reduction goals set by both the State of California and the United Nations.

“Cities are struggling with a wide range of challenges and threats to sustainability in their core operations,” said George McGrath, Chief Operating Officer at Recology. “Our collaboration with IBM has helped us transform the programs we provide in San Francisco and, in turn, the very way people view bottles, coffee grounds, packaging, plastic bags, and other materials they generate every day.”

With the use of IBM’s Smarter Computing technology Recology is able to manage and maintain this complex operation and route dispatching of trucks. These functions require a dependable and flexible system to help the company manage logistics and an ever-changing waste stream with maximum efficiency.

There will be a live Tweet Chat later this afternoon (Thursday, May 31, 2012) at 1 PM EST on the topic of sustainability.  Follow the hashtag #zerowasteIBM to track the Twitterstream.

You can learn more about the smarter composting solution IBM partnered with Recology on in the video below.

Written by turbotodd

May 31, 2012 at 1:34 pm

(Almost) Live From IBM Pulse 2012: Todd and Scott’s Livestream Kickoff

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Greetings from the social media room on the solutions expo floor of IBM Pulse 2012.

It’s been a wild and crazy day, which you know already if you follow my blog.

We’ve already witnessed several keynote sessions, and Scott and I have been busy interviewing some of our key execs and thought leaders from IBM Software.

Those would include IBM Mobile guru Bob Sutor, who explained he’s historically been more iOS than Android (but he’s leaving the mobile OS door wide open) and who walked us through the “mobile lifecycle,” and IBM Developer Relations VP Mike Riegel, who regaled us with his insights into the IBM SmartCamp and Global Entrepreneur initiatives.

Keep an eye out on the Livestream for those interviews as they make their way into the Pulse 2012 video rotation.

Meanwhile, I wanted to include a link to the video Scott and I did for our kickoff last evening here on the Pulse 2012 Solutions Expo floor, where we set up the big picture for the week’s tidings — and even had some fun doing so.

IBM’s Solar Servers

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There is no investment you can make which will pay you so well as the effort to scatter sunshine and good cheer through your establishment. — Orison Swett MardenAccording to the U.S. Department of Energy, data centers can consume up to 100 times more energy than a standard office building.In fact, less than 15% of original source energy is used for the information technology equipment within a data center.

A technician inspects IBM's solar-power array atop the roof of the company's software development lab in Bangalore, India. The technology is designed specifically to run high-voltage data centers, integrating AC- and DC-based servers, water-cooling systems and related electronics. The 6,000-square-foot array is capable of providing a 50-kilowatt supply of electricity for up to 330 days a year, for an average of five hours a day.

A 2008 McKinsey report suggested that demand for data centers was expected to grow at 10% CAGR over the next decade, but because of their enormous energy consumption, they were expected to consume as much energy as 10 new major power plants by last year (.2% of world energy production!)

Enter Big Blue.

IBM said today that is rolling out the first solar-power array designed specifically to run high-voltage data centers, integrating AC- and DC-based servers, water-cooled computing systems and related electronics.

The new array is spread over more than 6,000 square-feet of rooftop covering IBM’s India Software Lab in Bangalore.

The solar array is capable of providing a 50-kilowatt supply of electricity for up to 330 days a year, for an average of five hours a day.

By employing unique high-voltage DC power conditioning methods – and reducing AC-DC conversion losses – the new IBM solution can cut energy consumption of data centers by about 10 percent and tailors solar technology for wider use in industrial IT and electronics installations.

In many emerging markets, electrical grids are undependable or non-existent. Companies are forced to rely on expensive diesel generators.

That makes it difficult and expensive to deploy a lot of computers, especially in the concentrated way they’re used in data centers. Using IBM’s solution, a bank, a telecommunications company or a government agency could contemplate setting up a data center that doesn’t need the grid.

The solution, in effect, creates its own DC mini-grid inside the data center.

High-voltage, DC computer servers and water-cooling systems are beginning to replace traditional, AC-powered servers and air-conditioning units in data centers.

IBM’s Bangalore array is the first move to blend solar-power, water-cooling and power-conditioning into a “snap-together” package suitable to run massive configurations of electronic equipment.

“The technology behind solar power has been around for many years, but until now, no one has engineered it for efficient use in IT,” said Rod Adkins, senior vice president, IBM Systems & Technology Group. “We’ve designed a solar solution to bring a new source of clean, reliable and efficient power to energy-intensive, industrial-scale electronics.”

IBM plans for the Bangalore solar-power system to connect directly into the data center’s water-cooling and high-voltage DC systems. The integrated solution can provide a compute power of 25 to 30 teraflops using an IBM Power Systems server on a 50kW solar power supply.

“This solar deployment, currently powering almost 20 percent of our own data center energy requirements, is the latest in the investments made at the India lab to design an efficient and smarter data center,” said Dr Ponani Gopalakrishnan, VP, IBM India Software Lab. “Ready access to renewable energy in emerging markets presents significant opportunities for IBM to increase efficiencies, improve productivity and drive innovation for businesses around the world.”

IBM & University Of Antioquia Partner To Search For Parasite Cure

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If you’ve ever wondered to yourself how you can get involved in and in support of IBM’s “Smarter Planet” initiative, the following provides just the kind of example to foot the bill.

IBM and the University of Antioquia today announced a joint research project that will use computer power from IBM’s World Community Grid, which pools and uses the idle computing power of volunteers’ personal computers around the world to help accelerate scientific research that addresses humanitarian challenges.

IBM and the University of Antioquia partner to use the World Community Grid computing power to search for smarter treatments of a common parasite.

In this particular instance, IBM and the University of Antioquia will be using the World Community Grid computing power to predict potential inhibitors or drugs that have the potential to control Leishmaniasis.

The research project will try to find potential inhibitors of the Leishmaniasis parasite, or explore the application of drugs currently used to treat similar diseases.

Using the computational power of World Community Grid enables the screening of 600,000 potentially useful chemical compounds stored in a public drug database.  The idea is to virtually apply these compounds against 5,300 Leishmania proteins in an effort to identify prospective drug treatments.

Instead of implementing costly and lengthy laboratory trials, or spending dozens of years performing computations on small computers, millions of experiments will be simulated using the software installed in the devices comprising World Community Grid.

“Conducting this same project in a local cluster would take more or less 70 to 100 years. With World Community Grid, it will be completed in a maximum of two years. This is evidence of the data processing capacity of this network dedicated to provide computational resources to try to find a solution to the problems that besiege communities in need around the world, as is the case of Leishmaniasis,” said Carlos Muskus, Coordinator, Molecular and Computational Biology, PECET, and project leader.

“This disease urgently calls for new and effective treatments, given that the number of infected patients has climbed to more than two million people in 97 countries.”

What In The World Is The World Community Grid?

World Community Grid is a network of more than two million individual computers, providing donated computer power during the time in which their computers are idle,  creating the world’s largest and fastest computing grid to benefit of humankind. World Community Grid is based on IT innovation, combined with scientific and visionary research, plus volunteer, collective and nonprofit actions to create a smarter planet.

Individuals can donate their computers’ time to these projects by registering at www.worldcommunitygrid.org, and installing a secure, free software program in their personal computers running Linux, Microsoft Windows or Mac OS.

Computers request data from the World Community Grid server when they are idle, or between key strokes during non compute-intensive jobs.  In this way, they can help complete the protein computations required to perform the Leishmaniasis research in Colombia.

Sponsored by IBM, World Community Grid has offered researchers worldwide the equivalent of millions of dollars’ worth of free computational power to enable medical, nutritional, energy and environmental research.

548,310 Users And Counting

At present, more than 548,310 users and 1,729,127 devices are part of IBM’s World Community Grid in 88 countries, including Colombia.  World Community Grid’s server runs Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC) software, maintained at Berkeley University and supported by the National Science Foundation.

Projects undertaken by the World Community Grid, which have yielded dozens of peer-reviewed scientific research papers, include efforts to cure muscular dystrophy and cancer, as well as to develop cheaper and more efficient solar cells. Other projects include Fight AIDS@Home with Scripps Research Institute, which found two compounds that may lead to new treatments of drug-resistant HIV strains.

The Nutritious Rice for the World project completed 12 million computational transactions in 11,000 computing hours, in an effort to achieve healthier, more disease and weather-resistant rice strains.  And the Genome Comparison project run by Fiocruz has organized and standardized the way scientists understand the role of gene sequences in maintaining health or causing illness.

Go here to learn more about IBM’s corporate citizenship initiatives.

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