Managing our planet’s limited resources is vital for realizing a sustainable future. Many large scale human systems that interact with our planet need major improvements and measurement is the first step towards improvement. This interview with Sharon Nunes of IBM, profiles IBM’s Smarter Planet initiative. Nunes is the VP of IBM’s Smart City Strategy and Solutions and was one of the speakers at this month’s Women’s Network for a Sustainable Future event. She works with large and small cities all over the world to implement IBM’s three I’s of instrumentation, interconnection and intelligence. Fifteen petabytes of data is generated per day on a worldwide basis. IBM’s software analytics helps identify and improve inefficiencies in transport, water, energy, food, communication and healthcare. Amongst the client list are 300 cities in the last year alone: London, Stockholm, Sydney, ShenYang, Dublin, Amsterdam, and Baltimore.
Implementations include Stockholm’s congestion pricing scheme for vehicles traveling into the city. The implemented system automatically identifies cars traveling into the city with visual recognition technology rather than the traditional transponder, and issues billing to car owners. The program decreases gridlock traffic by 40%, and carbon emissions by 12-15%. Decreasing gridlock is only one part of the transport solution. A smart city strategy must look at the full system to provide a holistic solution. Thus, an alternate transport plan accompanies the congestion pricing scheme. Nunes identifies the top three problems common to most cities as energy, water and transport. While her clients often begin the process by tacking one of these problems, the project scope quickly expands to include the other two, which are often related. Looking to find out how to improve your own city? Everyone can get a taste for city planning with IBM’s City Planning Simulation game called CityOne.
Connie Kwan is a GreenTech Marketing professional based in Silicon Valley, CA. She is pursuing an MBA in Sustainability at Presidio Graduate School and blogs about sustainability and business at Sustainable Thinking: Applied. Follow her on Twitter @ConnieMKwan.