Instrumented Interconnecteds Intelligent
May, 22nd 2009

As we continue to ramp up the focus on making our cities smarter, I wanted to call attention to this post from IBM’s CEO in the Huffington Post today. My simple take is, if we want to fix our planet, we’ve got to start with our cities.

This unprecedented urbanization is both an emblem of our economic and societal progress — especially for the world’s emerging nations — and a huge strain on the planet’s infrastructure. It’s a challenge felt urgently by mayors, heads of economic development, school administrators, police chiefs and other civic leaders. The challenges these leaders face — educating their young, keeping citizens safe and healthy, attracting and facilitating commerce and enabling the smooth flow of planes, trains, cars and pedestrians — are only being compounded by the global downturn.

Thankfully, help is at hand, with intelligence being infused into the way cities work. It has tended to be been system-by-system so far, but it need not stop there. We now have the capacity to manage cities as the complex systems — indeed, systems-of-systems — that they are. And the current crisis in the world’s economy offers an opportunity — indeed, I believe, an imperative — to do just that.

And, summing up the main point.

All the ways in which the world works come together in our cities. They are the proverbial melting pot — not only for immigrants, but for systems, blending them together to engender new forms of commerce, of culture, of science, of life and of society. Which is why cities — more than states, provinces or even nations — are likely to be the crucible for human progress and evolution in the coming century.

The urbanization of our planet is one of those developments — arguably, the single one — big enough to "see from space." And the bright lights, shining back at the stars, signal more than the simple movement of electrons. The world’s cities can be seen as, collectively, the Earth’s higher brain functions. Therefore, it’s in our cities, I believe, that we can see the most promising opportunity for an intelligence upgrade in how the world works and how we live.

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Posted by: Loria Besong
June 10, 2009
4:56 pm

I would like to echo Tim Cronin’s comments. Making it hard for people to get to work by putting taxes on travel is ridiculous. Why not figure a way so people can work from home some of the time. Have workplaces be more flexible on starting times and create incentives for commuters to take mass transit like making it free {it is already subsidized} or making it easier for people to ride bikes.

Posted by: Tim Argo
June 9, 2009
8:05 am

Dwight, I understand your point, and I agree that the important thing to solve for is the human element. That behaviors, practices and cultures, in some instances, need to change in order for our impact to the planet to be smarter. But to ignore the possibilities for technology to play a role in facilitating those changes and helping us better understand the impact and possible solutions out of some of these messes would be a massive mistake, no? So, don’t focus on the “smarter planet” term, and focus on what are the things that we need to fix, how should we fix them, and what is the role of business, government and citizens, respectively?

Posted by: Adam Christensen
June 9, 2009
8:04 am

Thomas, about smart grids and smart metering. Yes, those are big priorities. There are a few posts on that topic here: but we’ll be posting a lot more soon too. About your comment that we are a large consumer of energy – you are right. And finding better solutions for data centers is very important to us. Not sure if you caught this announcement last week, but it’s a step. More directly to your point about alternative energy in our data centers, you should be hearing more from us soon on that topic too.
Stay tuned.

Posted by: Adam Christensen
June 9, 2009
7:47 am

I would like to hear more about IBM’s intentions around smart grid and smart metering technology. IBM is a large consumer of energy in the utility market, what are their plans on using alternative energy such as solar and wind?

Posted by: Thomas Mims
June 9, 2009
5:44 am

I recently heard the IBM radio advertisment advocating “building a smarter planet”. This is a misguided and impossible task. We have neither the need nor the ability to “build a smarter planet.” The planet, and all species of living things on it, except one, if left to their own devices, will do just fine, thank you. What we desperately need, is to build a smarter human. It is our species, and ours alone, that create and/or define the problems, the issues, the disasters, that we, not the planet, face. Chances are, the planet will be seriously damaged, but will survive what we do to it. We may not, and from a planetary point of view, that may be for the best.
Conservatives hide their heads in the sand and deny that we have anything to do with the changes in climate, the polluting of the waters and the air, and the destruction of the lands that are occurring now, as long as the profits keep rolling in. Liberals wail and gnash their teeth over the changes, and advocate solutions that ignore the real problem — us. There are too many of us, and more every day. With our science, our technology, and in our ignorance, we have developed and refined the ability to damage or destroy the resources we need to survive, and our only solution is to “build a smarter planet”?. Please …

Posted by: Dwight Wheeler
June 7, 2009
11:00 am

If IBM is serious about wanting to make for a BETTER PLANET, I invite them to JOIN my PROPOSAL to the DOE found here.

To save the planet we need Electric Cars and we need them NOW to compete the the JUNK coming out of Detroit. The time to strike is now as they are going Bankrupt for pushing their junk on the planet.

Posted by: Mike Mathiesen
June 1, 2009
2:27 pm

Being from a liberal state called New York, a socialist utopia, I wasn’t surprised to find out about this blog from a radio commercial with some woman expounding on the benefits of congestion pricing in some city in the US. So let me set the record straight: “Congestion Pricing” is nothing more than a back-end tax. Period. It is based on more revenue for ever-expanding socialist-style government and to do something “green” to help with a hoax called ” man-made global warming”. There is no such thing; scientists around the world have come forward to debunk it(but it doesn’t fit the liberal elitist media’s template); and Americans aren’t buying into the nonsense. As liberal statists think, congestion pricing theoretically forces people to take mass transit. What happens is just the opposite: people stop working in the city, they get jobs elsewhere, the people stop taking the already overpriced transit system, the businesses fail and/or move elsewhere, the municality loses revenue, more people get on entitlement programs, congestion prices,tolls,taxes,mass transit fares, and fees go ever upward to support cradle-to-grave care of the populace,combating “man-made global warming” and being “green”. Where have I heard crap like this before? Oh,yes, in the 1970′s when I was a child. Then you get recession, depression and a government promising to take care of it all with…you guessed it…higher taxes,tolls,fees and…congestion pricing(and other back-end taxes). Liberal, socialist, environmentalist nonsense.
The real story here is: That’s exactly what liberals want to expand their own power. Big brother government. Scary, but true.

Posted by: Tim Cronin
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