IBM Tailors Smarter City Tools to Budget-Crunched Cities


Photo by Ron Henry Photography via Flickr CC

IBM has invested an incredible amount of energy in Smarter Planet, a branch of the company that dreams big about what is possible when we create and implement the best technology to both meet our human needs and minimize our environmental footprint. The company has created quite a selection of solutions for cities to implement already -- from better energy efficiency to monitoring and minimizing water consumption -- and this week it is announcing a city-in-a-box option for cash-strapped cities. Last year, IBM announced its first Smarter Cities Technology Center in Dublin, Ireland, where it would help cities across the globe understand and connect their operational systems -- energy, telecommunications, water, transportation and other core systems will run intelligently, all networked together. While it seems on the surface like a solution only cities with some spare change could implement, IBM is now illustrating that it is an ideal option for cities who are in serious need of saving funds and getting their red budgets back in the black.

Fast Company reports that IBM plans to announce the "city-in-a-box" option at the Intelligent Cities Forum in Washington, D.C.

The Intelligent Operations Center...is a streamlined suite of real-time dashboard, analysis, and data integration tools designed to mimic the more expensive civic control centers it has built in New York and Rio. Over the next 12 months, IBM intends to offer specific modules for public safety, water, and transportation that combine tools to make it easier to connect IBM's analytical engines with embedded systems.

This suite of services for monitoring resources could help cities cut the costs of implementing such technologies as managing water systems, public transportation systems, and traffic management. Designed to be modular, IBM will start releasing various modules over the next 12 to 18 months. The suite can help cities deal with everything from resource consumption to disaster response.

IBM states of their Intelligent Operations Center, "With this approach, your city gets a faster return on investment while reducing risk. You benefit from best practices developed on engagements with other leading cities by IBM and IBM partners. Plus, we are able to extend your solutions to address your city's future needs.

As for IBM's profits, Smart Planet reports that the market for upgrades for cities will be worth as much as $57 billion in 2014, an increase from $34 billion in 2011.

Essentially, IBM's solutions will revolve around the best and most effective ways to read, analyze, and use the information gathered by sensors, meters and other data-gathering tools the cities are using.

Chris O'Connor, vice president of IBM industry solutions engineering, told Smart Planet,
"Most cities already have digital information overflow with hundreds of cameras, deployed meters and data from different sources." In other words, cities don't have to have a networks of sensors or tracking tools already installed to be able to use the analytics tools IBM is offering. It makes it a far more financially reasonable way to get started in running a city more intelligently.

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Tags: Concepts & Prototypes | Energy Efficiency | Technology