Instrumented Interconnecteds Intelligent
Archive for July, 2009
July 31st, 2009

In light of the University Jam a couple of the interns at IBM (Daniela Retelny, Michelle Morrison and I) put together a short video reflecting the results from the jam as well as another survey we conducted independently among a group of college students.

Below are the wordles used in the video

Solutions students would like to see in their cities (Jam data)

Solutions students would like to see in their cities (Jam data)

Solutions students would like to see in their cities (survey data)

Solutions students would like to see in their cities (survey data)

First word that comes to mind when students think of their cities (survey data)

First word that comes to mind when students think of their cities (survey data)

Be sure to check out some of the other blog posts talking about the Jam including one on this blog from Jai Menon, IBM vice president and vice chair of IBM’s Academy of Technology.

College kids around world ‘jam’ for sustainability

University jammers foresee an intelligent, interconnected planet

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July 30th, 2009

Following is a guest post from Dan Pelino:

Health care reform is dominating conversations around the country…including heated discussions around many kitchen tables. I heard a lot of it during my trip this week to Cincinnati, where I met with health care providers and pharmacy benefits management companies.

Amidst the heated debate in Washington, President Obama’s vow to provide every patient with an electronic medical record by 2014 may seem like a distant memory. But it’s very much a reality at St. Elizabeth Healthcare, which operates six hospitals throughout Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati.

steSt. Elizabeth Healthcare is building Kentucky’s largest electronic medical records project, connecting dozens of hospitals, clinics and physician offices. Digital files will replace a warehouse full of paper-based records on more than 50,000 patients, and real-time digitized information will help deliver better care to thousands of patients.

It all began when St. Elizabeth acquired St. Luke’s Hospitals in Kentucky last year, long before the current administration arrived in Washington, D.C. Both hospital systems had self-contained medical records that didn’t connect with other medical providers. The merger gave this healthcare system the opportunity to look at their situation with fresh eyes and develop a system to help its doctors, nurses, pharmacists and technicians work smarter and in a more connected fashion.

This September St. Elizabeth Healthcare is rolling out the system in doctor’s offices, and then to clinics and ambulatory care sites — including six hospitals, nearly 1,000 physicians, 31 primary care doctor’s offices and four imaging centers and clinics.

Whether a patient visits a doctor’s office, an acute care hospital, or an ER, all health care professionals will have an instant, total view of the patient to coordinate care across an extended team. It will also lead to greater transparency for patients. They’ll be able to access their digital medical records and see lab results, schedule appointments and get referrals online. Doctors and nurses will be able to see real-time patient information, EKGs, x-rays, scans and prescriptions, leading to better care with fewer errors.

Digital records lead to better care at lower cost, but St. Elizabeth’s is hardly in the majority. A mere 1.5 percent of hospital systems in the U.S. have a comprehensive electronic records systems. Only about one-sixth of the population in the US is covered by an electronic health record. But more than 12 percent of the people in Northern Kentucky and the greater Cincinnati area will have electronic medical records when the St. Elizabeth’s project is completed next year. That’s smarter health care.

Dan Pelino is general manager of IBM’s Healthcare & Life Sciences business.

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July 29th, 2009

Following is a guest post from Jai Menon:

Consider this: every year grocers and consumers throw away $48 billion worth of food, even as hunger inflicts millions. Congested roadways in the U.S. cost $78 billion annually, in the form of 4.2 billion lost work hours and 2.9 billion gallons of wasted gas. Sixty-two percent of all electrical energy is lost due to inefficiencies in the grid. 2.2 million dispensing errors are made every year in the U.S. alone because of handwritten prescriptions, a 100,000 people a year die in U.S. hospitals due to mistakes, and our healthcare system loses $100 billion dollars a year to fraud.

I find it difficult to accept that we, as a society, allow these things to happen. Smarter technology and smart people can surely fix these problems – indeed, don’t we have an obligation to fix these problems?

282x120_sp_jam2Earlier this year, we thought we would try to find out what the 20-something generation thought of these problems, and what they might want to do about it. So we hosted an online brainstorming conversation, called a “Jam”, with university students and faculty to discuss how we can make our planet smarter.

The Jam ran for 72 hours, and allowed 2000 people from 40 different countries to brainstorm online about how to improve healthcare; manage limited water supplies; build smarter electricity grids; and improve our cities. Some students jammed alone, others jammed together with their classmates. Because the Jam makes it easy to carry on a conversation and to build on what others have said, I found myself waking up first thing in the morning to see what new ideas had been added, on top of something I had previously contributed, by people in other time zones who were jamming while I was sleeping.

I was energized by the level of optimism I found among the students. 95% of students either are already in an environmental club on campus, or would like to join one, 90% are very sure or think there is a good chance we will all be driving 100 miles per gallon cars by 2025 and 65% are either sure or think there is a chance we will reverse Global CO2 emissions by 2025. These numbers are far more optimistic than if we were to poll average citizens.

I found fascinating insights in the discussion on education and the future of universities. Students proposed using project-based teams that span geographies, disciplines and institutions as the best way to learn the inter-disciplinary skills they saw as necessary for the future, they proposed  student-led learning concepts with faculty as coaches and they saw a large increase in global online classroom opportunities with use of video and virtual worlds. In the discussion on smart cities, I found some keen insights about how smart cities need to be adaptable and dynamic, how virtual worlds can be used to test out new ideas about a city, and the importance of smart evacuation systems which turn off gas valves and open/shut doors and windows automatically after a disaster.

I learnt from the students, but I also think they got a lot out of it. Here is what one of the student contributors said:

Before the Jam, I didn’t expect much from a discussion about our planet, but thanks to IBM, the Jammers were able to take me to another level. Topics like building smart cities had never crossed my mind and thanks to the discussions, I can now think in a new dimension when it comes to solutions for our towns here in Uganda. The ideas that emerged were far-reaching and I can’t wait for the next Jam.

Please read the Smarter Planet jam report if you get a chance. I think of this as the start of a dialogue that must continue. To help, we have launched a Facebook application that allows students to connect with IBM mentors, and we have also launched a new initiative that allows IBMers to remotely initiate and support university projects in smarter planet areas. These are being rolled out regionally and will be expanded world-wide following refinement.

I am looking forward to continuing this dialogue with students and faculty. The more of tomorrow’s leaders we can engage in this discussion of a smarter planet, the better all of our futures will be.

Jai Menon is an IBM vice president and vice chair of IBM’s Academy of Technology. Among other responsibilities, he serves as the global leader of IBM’s University Collaboration programs and works with academia to establish innovative research and build 21st century skills in support of the innovation economy.

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From IBM Research facility in Hawthorne, New York. Follow on Twitter: #bizanalytics, @ibmbizanalytics.

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July 27th, 2009

“Information is flowing like mighty rivers from a trillion connected and intelligent things . . .  The challenge is trying to pull it all together and make sense of it.”

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July 22nd, 2009

One of the fundamental principles behind Smarter Planet is the concept of instrumentation – that inanimate objects can be embedded with sensors and connected wirelessly to the Internet. This enables us mere human objects to effectively communicate with those formerly inanimate objects. The hope is that as we are able to collect data from these embedded objects and analyze it we’ll be able to make better, more informed decisions based on all the available information we have.

It’s a concept a number of us here on this blog have talked about in the past (see prior posts from Andy Piper, Jack Mason and myself). If you look at it at the individual object level, it seems fairly novel and can be construed as gimmicky. Houses that tweet? Andy Stanford-Clark, one of our favorite fellow IBMers who has really pioneered this topic, has “instrumented” his house, the local bus, even the local ferry boat to give the public information about this (more on Andy below). But think beyond the individual object to thousands or even millions of embedded objects acros entire systems – say transportation, or food, or healthcare or shipping or even natural ecosystems – think of the incredible benefits we could reap.

This requires, of course, better analytics to makes sense of it all. But coupled together (data+ analytics) it’s truly the next transformative era of computing. As others have stated before, if Web 1.0 was characterized by connecting people to content, and Web 2.0 is connecting people to people, then Web 3.0 is certainly connecting objects to people and to eachother. The Internet of things. Tim O’Reilly has also been talking about this for a while.

What got me onto this topic recently were two nice pieces from Read Write Web (here and here) stemming from a conversation Richard MacManus had with Andy. From the second post, I share this bit talking about some of the real life applications of this kind of instrumentation:

This month IBM made an agreement with Matiq, an IT subsidiary of Norway’s largest food supplier Nortura. The project involves using RFID (radio frequency identification) technology to track and trace poultry and meat products “from the farm, through the supply chain, to supermarket shelves.” This food tracking solution will help ensure that meat and chicken are “kept in optimal condition throughout the supply chain.” The system uses IBM’s WebSphere RFID Information Center, together with IBM’s sensor and actuator solutions.

Matiq offers a great example of instrumenting a food system. But what about if we start to connect that to an instrumented healthcare system and an instrumented traffic and transportation system. You start to see the possibilities of this “system of systems” concept we’ve been talking about in the context of our Smarter Cities conversations.

We’ll continue to probe further here on this blog on the opportunities for the Internet of things. Stay tuned next week for a deeper discussion on the privacy implications of all of this – a key concern that must be addressed at the outset.

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