Instrumented Interconnecteds Intelligent

At the risk of being redundant, I want to share a few recent items that reinforce the points that Chris Caine brought up here on this blog last week.

First, over the weekend CNN aired an interview of IBM's CEO, Sam Palmisano talking about the economy, the recession and the opportunity to build a smarter infrastructure system.

And earlier today, The Wall Street Journal published an opinion article from Sam, "Let's Spend on Broadband and the Power Grid" that makes the case for investment in three areas: broadband, smart grids and electronic health records. I think the subtitle of the article captures the premise best: "Not all stimulus is created equal." Only the right stimulus investments will drive future economic growth. Consider this anecdote from the article:

We can learn a lot from the network effect of the stimulus
investments in the Interstate highway system of the 1950s. Back then,
our economic system was analog. Building a new highway system sped the
movement of physical assets, creating a new high-speed transportation
system that enabled businesses to expand much more quickly, helping
drive economic growth for decades.

Today, we live in a digital world. Many of our most valuable assets
are online, traded virtually. As a result, communities with broadband
access grow employment at a significantly higher rate. And yet today,
the United States, the country that developed the Internet, ranks 12th
in broadband penetration and 15th in average broadband speed. This is
unacceptable if we want our nation to compete in the 21st century.

Economic growth, then can best be achieved by aligning investments with the realities of our current and future economic structure.

Now, I want to be clear. IBM has a lot to gain from these investment areas. We don't hide that fact. But that doesn't mean these aren't the right areas to invest, nor does it mean IBM is the only beneficiary. From the chart in Chris' post, you can see that the majority of jobs created by this investment will come from the small business sector, which by definition enhances local economic vitality.

But enough from us; what are your ideas? Are we in sync with where you think investments should (or shouldn't) be made? And what are your recommendations for the Obama administration?

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January 23, 2009
2:36 pm

What’s being described here is an emergent common IS layer supporting all infrastructure elements, a kind of meta-infrastructure which we call the telestructure. Potential e-productivity gains from re-engineering trillions of dollars worth of infrastructure components may rival those of the 1990′s as applied to e-commerce. Say 10-20% of total. Serious money.
This massive cross systems integration also creates new interdependencies that increase overall vulnerability to various types of interventions. The situation is compounded by vast systemic complexities that decrease system behavior predictability. search “complex adaptive systems”
Our point about all this is that each local community is a distinct combination of demographics, density, topology, etc. that demands a unique configuration of technologies and business models in conjunction with other local community policy priorities thus necessitating a locally-specific design.
While these complexities and interdependencies are barely understood at any level of government, it is still the primary responsibility of each and every local community to chart its own course. Plan or be planned.

Posted by: Don Means
January 19, 2009
9:31 am

Adam, great article. You might want to check the video though – that link isn’t working just now.

Posted by: Shiri Dori-Hacohen
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