IBM has presented yesterday, during the Smarter Cities Europe analyst briefing in Milan, a new, very interesting solution (including a Lecture by Colin Harrison, IBM Distinguished Engineer and Master Inventor): the IBM Intelligent Operations Center for Smarter Cities for building a more resilient society starting from sustainable smart cities using and holistic, ICT enabled approach. IBM Italy also showed a new demo room: “Major Smart Office” based on it (even if personally I was not too excited about the early version of the demo itself, because integration from some of best of breed projects missed a clear focus to the specific needs of a public local administration, as those that are common in Europe; probably the role based dashboard can be improved to make it more effective). This solution is a framework, delivered as part of the IBM Government Industry Framework , that “synchronizes and analyzes efforts among sectors and agencies as they happen, giving decision makers consolidated information that helps them anticipate—rather than just react to—problems. By using these tested approaches, cities can manage growth and development in a sustainable way that minimizes disruptions and helps increase prosperity for everyone”. It was derived insight from about 2,000 smarter cities projects around the world (20% in EU) in which IBM was involved or leaded (one of them “Bolzano Living safe”, presented the same day, related to health monitoring of elderly living alone in urban environment, was my favorite), aiming to enable the real-time communication and collaboration, reduce the impact of crisis situations and the overall cost of maintenance and repairs, minimize life-threatening issue and disruptions to public services and activities for citizens and city users. Various ICT components, such as Business Intelligence and prediction, where IBM has a strong reputation, and technologies from selected partners, such as sensors and smart grid and building can be selectively configured to specific needs (even if my first impression was that a monolithic “company ERP like” or “operating system architecture” approach might have influenced the design, that sounds to me more appealing for the new big smart cities of APAC). What makes it more interesting , in my opinion, is that the solution is made available also for IBM SmartCloud, with a subscription model that makes it attractive, in an CAPEX constrained public sector scenario, above all for medium size cities (or consortium of smaller towns). Obviously the core advantage of this SAAS solution is related to the opportunity of quickly leveraging the outcomes of leading smart cities projects, the gateways to external data sources (including a rich partner ecosystem) and ability of IBM Global services to tune the system to the specific rules, issues and constraints of a local administration, ability to provide quick dynamic power and capability to specific planned events (such as Olympics games or world EXPO), or provide a new infrastructure after a major catastrophic event. You can find the IBM solution brief here . You can also browse IBM redbooks for Smarter Cities Series starting from: “A Foundation for Understanding IBM Smarter Cities”.
I also take the opportunity to invite you (or at least Italian speaking ones) to the Innovatori Jam 2011 on September 14th-15th, a social Web 2.0 based event, that allow up to 20000 people to discuss and interact on 10 topics (forums), one of them is “Smart Cities” J. This Jam is organized by the” Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri – Agenzia per la diffusione delle tecnologie per l’innovazione” with IBM as technology partner and il Sole 24 ore as a media partner with the support of many “communities” including Think! For Innovation (a not for profit Innovation knowledge foundation) that I support, where you can find my related paper: The Smart City vision: How Innovation and ICT can build smart, “liveable”, sustainable cities.
It will be very interesting to test this brainstorming tool in the Italian scenario, since one year ago in England, the Coventry City Council held a three-day IBM Jam (CovJam) to engage in substantial conversation with its citizens and stakeholders about the city’s future. Martin Reeves, Chief Executive of Coventry City Council, stated: “People know that we can’t change overnight, that we need to take baby steps to being a smarter city with low-cost, practical projects. I was really impressed with some straightforward, not very costly ideas that people would like us to implement over the next few years.”
The five topics for CovJam were:
- The Rebirth of Coventry – thinking of ways to improve the urban landscape of Coventry
- Sent to Coventry – discussing what Coventry wants to be renowned for
- Aspiring Coventry – looking at how to raise the expectations of Coventry and its citizens
- Community Cohesion – examining how people in Coventry can get on with each other
- Citizens in the Driving Seat – discussing how Coventry residents can have control of the city