Adam Gartenberg's Blog

Business Analytics and Optimization, IBM and Social Marketing

A Smarter Planet in Action: Smarter Traffic, Smarter Electrical Grids, Smarter Food Safety

Fortune has a great article that goes into depth on a number of examples of how cities, electrical grids, and food safety are all getting "smarter."  

  • The city of Stockholm has managed to cut traffic by 35%, emissions by 14%, and increase public transit ridership by 40,000 a day... all without any obvious side effects on inner-city commerce or public complaints.
  • IBM is working with CenterPoint Energy on a self-healing power grid that can automatically detect downed power wires, deploy technicians, and reroute the lines to get energy back on in a matter of seconds.  (And in looking towards the future, is thinking about how to deploy smart thermostats so their customers can do things like turn on their air conditioning from their iPhone 20 minutes before they get home.)
  • Matiq, an IT consultancy in Norway, is deploying RFID tags and traceability software so they can monitor food "from farm to fork," tracking the origin, delivery date, transportation mode, and destination of any package of meat. The implementation is based on anticounterfeiting schemes developed for the pharmaceutical industry.  Should there be a crisis, such as an E.coli outbreak, the transparency promised by the system can save time, lives, and a lot of money for innocent companies, which won't be caught up in sweeping recalls.
  • Mars (the chocolate company, not the planet) is working with IBM to sequence the cacao genome - with 415 million base pairs - so that they can take steps to ward off diseases or other risk factors for the plant, helping in turn to ensure the livelihood of the 6.5 million farmers that grow it (not to mention billions of happy consumers).

The Fortune article calls out the common thread that runs through these - and many, many more - Smarter Planet examples:
From one view, this global tour of woe shows our world buckling because of poor planning, too much demand, and strained infrastructure. But there's a more opportunistic way to look at the vignettes. From another angle it becomes clear that they're all propagated by a single culprit: a lack of quality information.

This is why you're seeing us place such a large focus on helping companies capture, analyze but most importantly apply information to solving their business problems.  The benefits possible are just too large to leave unaddressed.