IBM PULSE2012: Data Drives A Smarter Planet

The annual 2012 Las Vegas IBM Pulse conference is centered around data. Every session discusses its collection, storage and especially its analysis and use in infrastructure. It’s enterprise resource planning come to cities, buildings, campuses and industries, and hosted in the cloud.

Speakers here agree – there is no shortage of data, but in the world of analytics, there is always room for more. The problem is the squandering or misuse of data. IBM’s A Smarter Planet initiative posits that data is the key to sustainability and their focus on asset and facilities management of buildings, campuses and cities will make a huge impact on a world that is moving toward ever-increasing urbanization.

Dave Bartlett, Vice President of Industry Solutions (IBM’s Building Whisperer) says that IBM looks at data “holistically” across all spaces. “No one else is doing it,” Bartlett says.

By 2025, buildings will be the number one energy consumer. IBM begins with making buildings “smarter” using devices like smart meters, building management systems and building sensors, public safety and surveillance systems. This gathers the data and allows it to be viewed from a high level. Once the data is gathered, better decisions can be made about conservation, use of space, and asset management, among other things.

The next step is smarter campuses. College campuses are, themselves, like small cities, and face many of the same challenges of commuters, parking, facilities, services, safety, security. Dr. Bill Winner, Director of the Environmental Sciences program and Chair of the University Energy Council at North Carolina State University, says that while cities are still in the theoretical stage of predicting the benefits of smarter cities, campuses will arrive there much faster, giving cities models to follow. The more campuses that become “smart” with diverse issues and geography, the more lessons learned for cities in similar situations.

Once buildings are smarter and campuses have paved the way, smart cities are the future. Beyond facilities and asset management, smarter cities are about connecting citizens to services. IBM shows how integrated data can not only speed response time in the case of a natural disaster, but perhaps even predict when one is coming.

Bartlett says that A Smarter Planet grew by fifty percent in 2011 and is one of four key strategic initiatives putting the company on track to meet its revenue targets. “Green is paying off,” Bartlett says. The company invested heavily in A Smarter Planet in 2011:

April : Acquired TRIRIGA
June: Announced IBM Intelligent Operations Center for Smarter Cities & IBM Smarter Buildings
July: Announced IBM Intelligent Operations Center on IBM SmartCloud & IBM Intelligent Transportation
October: Acquired i2 Group
November: Announced IBM Intelligent Water
December: Acquired Curam Software

In the next days we will examine smarter buildings and cities in more detail.

Andrea Newell has more than ten years of experience designing, developing and writing ERP e-learning materials for large corporations in several industries. She was a consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers and a contract consultant for companies like IBM, BP, Marathon Oil, Pfizer, and Steelcase, among others. She is a writer and former editor at TriplePundit and a social media blog fellow at The Story of Stuff Project. She has contributed to In Good Company (Vault's CSR blog), Evolved Employer, The Glass Hammer, EcoLocalizer and CSRwire. She is a volunteer at the West Michigan Environmental Action Council and lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. You can reach her at and @anewell3p on Twitter.

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