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

In recent decades we have seen amazing innovative advancements in agriculture and manufacturing practices that have been developed to support the needs of a booming global population.  These advancements have come about through investment from private industry, improved technology and global trade routes.  And one other vital ingredient – pure fresh water.  Every single supply chain or production line in the world has water as one of its key components, using practices that did not necessarily factor in the finiteness of this resource.  The 2009 Global Innovation Outlook Report on Water provides some interesting insights into the volume of water required to produce various goods, including:

  • 70 litres of water to make one apple
  • 140 litres of water to make one cup of coffee
  • 1,300 litres of water to make one kilogram of wheat
  • 10,855 litres of water to make one pair of jeans

These calculations take into account every drop of water used in the production lifecycle, from irrigation to industrial processes, to discharge.  In Australia, we are looking closely at this virtual use of water as our water resources drop to critical levels.  Unprecedented droughts, particularly over the last 10 years, have motivated our Government, industry and community leaders to address this issue, particularly at the agricultural level.  Currently, many of our farmers, who use 70% of our fresh water, still irrigate on a ‘flood the field’ basis, losing up to 75% of the water to evaporation.  As a result, these traditional irrigation systems take up to four times the water they need to produce each tonne of grain.  Thankfully we all recognise that to make our economy sustainable and to manage our most precious resource, we need to create an integrated, intelligent water system.  A smart network that monitors its own health, remotely senses damage, assesses water availability and predicts demand.  A system that helps manage end-to-end distribution, from reservoirs to pumping stations to smart pipes to holding tanks to intelligent metering at the user site – so we can manage water consumption efficiently.  In the following light-hearted video, we demonstrate how we will evolve to meet our water use needs for domestic, agriculture, community and environmental purposes.  We have an opportunity to transform the way Australia manages water to create an integrated, intelligent system that helps us to use water wisely.

Shalome Doran

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August 27th, 2009

A lot of the commentary about Ted Kennedy’s death has focused on his involvement in health care legislation over the years, and has speculated about how his absence from the Senate might affect the current debate. But there’s another aspect of his death that is equally relevant to the debate….the manner of his dying itself.

Today’s New York Times contains reporting by Mark Leibovich that outlines how Kennedy controlled the process and the experience of dying, so that he would have a “good ending.” Yes, upon his initial diagnosis, he did take “prudently aggressive” treatments of surgery, chemo and radiation. But when it became clear in recent months that these would not halt the progress of the disease, he re-oriented himself to making the most of the days he had left, and apparently didn’t attempt heroic life-extending measures at the end.

If everyone who is in the final stages of a terminal illness did that…..just that….only that…….it would go a long way towards “bending down” the health care inflation curve. You’ve seen the statistics about what a high portion of Medicare is spent on people in the last six months of their lives. Obviously, each of us is going to be in that zone at some point. How we behave when we get there, the choices that we and our families make, will have a profound impact on our ability as a nation to pay for health care.

When my Father was dying of kidney failure at the age of 86 (ironically, in the Hyannis hospital, a few miles from the Kennedy compound ) it would have been quite possible to “save” him by putting him on near round-the-clock dialysis. But to what end? He had said all along, when he was still fully clear, that he didn’t want a life where he would spend most of his waking hours hooked up to a pain-making machine. And even in the fog of his actual dying, when dialysis was offered to him by the hospital staff, he didn’t accept. “I don’t know” was the diplomatic most they could get from him, a decline that to me reflected both his faith and his courage about taking “the big trip.”

But as medical technology invents ever more sophisticated (and more expensive!) ways of keeping people alive beyond their body’s natural abilty, I believe it will eventually come to a point where not just “Grandma”, but every single one of us, will have to ASK to have “the plug pulled”, or even turned it down in the first place. When that choice comes, let’s hope we can all follow Senator Kennedy’s example. If we don’t, there is no hope at all of controlling medical costs.

John Mihalec was a White House speech writer for President Ford, and an aide to US Senator Lowell Weicker and Illinois Governor James R. Thompson. He joined IBM in 1978, and has been a Vice President in IBM Communications since 1995.

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IBM’s Almaden Research Lab in San Jose, Calif.

For those who follow any topics related to energy, smart grids, renewable energy and the future of the automobile industry, the current limitations in electrical energy storage and battery technologies are well known. We even published a podcast on this topic Monday. These limitations and the implications it has for future sustainable energy programs will be the topic of discussion today at The Almaden Institute, an annual conference hosted by our colleagues and friends in IBM’s Almaden Research Lab.

Among today’s speakers are luminaries such as Nobel Laureate Burton Richtor, Daniel Sperling, author of Two Billion Cars, and Ted Miller, from Ford Research. You can see more of the agenda on the IBM Research blog.

But don’t fret if you weren’t invited, you can watch the conference live below, beginning right now.

The event is now closed. For more information on this subject listen to a podcast on electric energy storage.

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Today, a vast majority of the world’s oil is burned for transportation. Energy sources such as wind, geothermal and solar power, fluctuate continuously and can do little to reduce oil consumption unless the energy produced can be harnessed and stored.

Many experts believe the solution may lie in the development of an efficient, affordable energy storage network. Simply stated, energy storage – not energy generation – is seen as an important step toward the future.

A key part of current electric energy storage research will be influenced by the work of a consortium that hopes to develop next generation lithium batteries able to power electric vehicles for 300 to 500 miles on a single charge. This research may uncover major advances in larger-scale power storage for future electric grid applications. This next-generation battery is called Lithium-air.

On this episode of Building a Smarter Planet, Winfried Wilcke – Chairman of the Almaden Institute, and Senior Manager of Nanoscale Science & Technology at IBM talks about the research and development behind Lithium-air and why he feels it is so important to the future of energy storage.

Audio Content

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August 21st, 2009

IBM recently did a survey about how people think about primary care. As a nurse, IBM consultant and mother, I think about the survey results and wonder if healthcare information technology was leading the way, and the patient was following, would topics such as prevention, wellness, quality, chronic disease, and primary care still be highly debated?

I think so, as we look more intensely into the thought of forming a more expansive primary care/ medical home approach. However, there are several cornerstones of success that will need to be identified and normalized to change the overall perception and understanding of health care:

  • - Society must shift direction and place the utmost importance on preventative measures and wellness. Addressing barriers related to annual wellness visits, compliance and medication will ultimately support healthy behaviors thus reducing overall costs.
  • - We must identify and ultimately understand the causes of emergency department overuse.
  • - We must strengthen the primary care system, promoting policies and procedures that are centered on evidence-based care, clinical innovation, and information technology.
  • - We must start thinking in new ways about participating and driving our own health, and we must tackle tough topics head on such as disinterest, waste and fraud.

Prevention is supposed to help people stay healthier. If it costs money, so be it. Blending varying preventative measures (vaccinations, diagnostic testing, disease management, dietary counseling, etc) across all degrees of disease states (varying incidence and prevalence) and coming to the conclusion that some are found as not cost-effective measures should come as no surprise and is a disservice to everyone. All of us should demand the same understanding and performance around healthcare that we expect of any enterprise.

If one in four Americans do not receive a yearly wellness check-up, as the survey discovered – and despite the mounting evidence that 40 percent of deaths are due to preventable causes – cost and the inherent value of wellness visits may remain illusive to many people.

Consider this: what are the relative statistics for an oil change, given the simplicity of comparison? Most Americans understand that an oil change is instrumental to the proper functioning and a vital part of the preventative maintenance required when owning and operating a car. Without proper preventative care the automobile will shut down or be damaged beyond repair. Do the above same statistics apply? Do 93% of Americans refrain from having their oil changed in their car because of cost and unworthiness?

Brandy Killion is an IBM a healthcare business development consultant based in Bethesda, MD and a registered nurse.

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Die Ikea Stiftung hat eine Reihe von Kleinen Filmen für große Ideen zusammengetragen, die im Rahmen...

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Electric utilities executives have climate change at the top of their minds these days. But despite recognizing risks to their current business operations, it seems many are taking a wait and see approach to dealing with it. This all comes from a forthcoming report from Acclimatise and IBM.

Responding to survey questions as part of the Carbon Disclosure Project, utilities executives identified power outages, damage to operational performance, increased demand from urbanization and stress on water resources as the biggest climate-change related risks to their current businesses.

The report will be made available shortly, but for anyone wanting the full details, you are invited to join a live web-based conference call today at 3 p.m. British Summer Time and 10 a.m. U.S. Eastern Standard Time. Registration is open to the public. Be sure to register as early as possible.

In the meantime, following are a few more statistics coming from the report, as quoted in the press release:

  • While responding companies seem to have incorporated climate change in general into their governance structures, only a few electric utilities (6 percent) refer to adaptation directly as an integrated element of their governance, reporting and lobbying practices.
  • 48 percent report to manage their climate risks, however adaptation actions are generally isolated and rarely form part of climate risk management strategies.
  • 31 percent provide evidence of their climate change risks.
  • Compared to identifying climate risks (93 percent), far fewer electric utilities report that they recognise the opportunities of changing climatic conditions (59 percent).

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    The race to host the Olympics is the race to the smartest city. In order to catch the eye of the Olympic committee cities have to become smarter – more efficient, greener and more sustainable. This series explores different initiatives proposed by various cities vying for the 2016 Olympic bid. Be sure to look for upcoming posts on Madrid and Rio de Janeiro. Be sure to check out Part 1: Chicago’s Blue and Green Games.



    If you had to pick a mascot for a green campaign, what would it be? Well, Tokyo settled on an 18-meter tall robot statue called Gundam, from a 30-year old television show “Mobile Suit Gundam.” While this may sound more like a graphic novel, Gundam is the centerpiece for the real-life Green Tokyo Gundam Project, an initiative to raise money for the “Green Tokyo Fundraising Campaign Committee,” which is a key tenet of Tokyo’s bid for the 2016 Olympics. While access to see the Gundam statue is free, retailers will be selling shirts and robot models, and a portion of the profits will go towards projects that include planting roadside trees, creating low-pollen forests in the Tama area of western Tokyo, planting lawns in schoolyards and developing the Sea Forest, an 88-hectare area of land reclaimed from the ocean that will host the equestrian competitions.

    The committee is helping manage four Olympic projects to increase greenery in Tokyo. These projects are a small part of the Tokyo Big Change plan, a proposal aimed at bringing more green space and green living into urban life, in order to make the city an ideal host for the 2016 Olympic bid. Tokyo has over 12 million residents and is very densely populated. It is essential for the city to become smarter. Without changes to its current systems the city will become more polluted and not able to handle the growing population and the many visitors that would travel to Tokyo for the games.



    The Tokyo Big Change plan contains a lot of goals, one of which revolves around creating higher carbon emission standards. CO2 emissions in the Greater Tokyo Area will be reduced to 2 to 3 million tons/year (about 3 to 4% of Tokyo’s total annual emissions). By improving their transportation systems, Tokyo can greatly reduce the amount of CO2 emissions. Several loop roads would be built which would circle around the outer parts of the city. Currently the average speed of a car in the Tokyo ward area is 18.8 km an hour. By 2015 they hope to raise the average speed to 25 km an hour. In addition to the loop road, air, sea and land transportation would all be linked, creating greater convenience, time savings and freeing up some of the roads.

    While reducing carbon emissions is important. Tokyo must improve the safety of the city, particularly against earthquakes and terrorist attacks. Buildings along emergency transport roads as well as schools and hospitals would be made earthquake resistant. 90% of the homes in Tokyo would also be made resistant. In order to reduce the possibility of a terrorist attack, smart surveillance systems would be implemented including hazardous material detection systems.

    If you hail from Tokyo, does the Gundam statue make you think greener thoughts? Is the Tokyo Big Change plan a roadmap for the future? And how do Tokyo’s proposals stack up against Chicago’s Blue-Green Games?

    For more information check out Tokyo Big Change.

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    Social Energy Meter [SEM] (via WideTag)

    Wieder ein schönes Beispiel für die Verknüpfung von Sensor Networks und Social Web… In dem Beispiel wird Energiesparen zum spielerischen Wettbewerb in Echtzeit.

    Sieht auch gleich noch attraktiver als eine Digitale Anzeige aus :-)

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