IBM employees are curious. We try to seek out relationships that lead to expanding our knowledge in exciting areas of innovation and thought. When we engage with experts from outside our company, we take the time to listen, the time to think, we ask questions. Sometimes we find ourselves in these situations where – if we approach with respect and an open ear – we afford ourselves the opportunity to collaborate, to further the conversation, to build valuable relationships. We are a global network of experts seeking to further our innovative insight through our innate curiosity, our collaborative nature, and our respect for the work and achievements of others.
As an example of this, a handful of IBMers over the last few years have visited the MIT SENSEable City Laboratory in Cambridge Massachusetts to meet with the students and faculty members there, and to learn about some of the innovative projects they have underway. Just as IBM has been exploring how to make our cities more instrumented, interconnected and intelligent, the folks at MIT have been investigating and testing their own ideas in a number of cities over the last 6 years. Their projects are fascinating.
One project from the SENSEable Cities Lab that has caught the eye of many IBMers over the past few years is called Trash Track. In a nutshell, this project involved attaching RFID tags to everyday garbage items so that the geographic movement of the trash could be tracked for up to a year depending on variables. An Internet of Things project of sorts based on Location Awareness, with mapping, analytics, and ultimately analysis of the tags as attached to their hosts traveling about — glass, metals, plastics, organic waste etc — this project provided unique and surprising lessons for all involved.
In hearing about this project, IBM Fellow John Cohn agreed to take a trip to the MIT campus — his alma mater — to participate in a discussion with SENSEable Cities Associate Director Assaf Biderman to learn more about Trash Track. This video is the result of that trip, and some of the things we learned that day.