Instrumented Interconnecteds Intelligent
Archive for October, 2010
October 28th, 2010

Today information pours in faster than we can make sense it. It’s being authored by billions of people – and flowing from a trillion intelligent devices, sensors and all manner of instrumented objects. And with 80 percent of new data growth existing unstructured content – from music files to 3D images to medical records to email keystrokes — the challenge is trying to pull it all together and make sense of it.

But what if you could tap into this information to uncover lucrative business opportunities? What if you had the “inside information” you needed to retain customers or improve research? What if you could inject certainty and predictability into the decision-making process?

Participants at this week’s Information On Demand 2010 forum in Las Vegas are asking these questions, and they’re finding highly intelligent and profitable answers in clever analytics software that can organize, store and mine all of the information scattered throughout their organization and provide customized intelligence to gain faster insight from this information and help them work in a smarter way.

Click below for a larger version:

Picture Story: Information and Analytics

Bookmark and Share

Picture of infarct after cerebral vasospasmRemember that cool IBM TV ad about using real-time data management technology to monitor the vital signs of preemies in a Toronto hospital? Well, it looks like the same technology could be used to help stroke victims as well.

Today, researchers at IBM and Columbia University Medical Center announced that they are investigating to find out if IBM’s InfoSphere Streams software can help detect complications afflicting stroke victims in time to save lives. If the initial study shows promising results, they’ll begin to use a monitoring system based on the technology in the medical center’s neurological intensive care unit. “If we can demonstrate that this works, there are  a lot of problems in health care we can start to tackle,” says Dr. Michael Schmidt, director of neuromonitoring and informatics at the neurological ICU. “Nurses and clinicians in ICU’s are totally overwhelmed with data. The whole field needs help.”

Schmidt and his research collaborators are looking for patterns in data that could help them identify patients who are experiencing a severe complication to ruptured brain aneurysms. In certain kinds of bleeding strokes, a bubble in a blood vessel bursts (as seen in the brain scan above).  If the patients survive this initial event and get to a hospital for treatment, they could have a complication called delayed ischemia: The blood vessels start to constrict, slowing the flow of blood to parts of the brain.

About 20% of the victims of this kind of bleeding stoke later suffer from delayed ischemia. Some of those victims don’t show symptoms of the complication, so they go untreated–which results in brain tissue damage or even death. Researchers hope to come up with techniques for detecting signs of the condition earlier so clinicians can intervene to prevent further injury.

This collaboration is an example of a multidisciplinary research that promises to deliver new kinds of innovations that weren’t possible in the past. It brings together researchers from IBM Research, the company’s software division, Columbia University, and Columbia Presbyterian Hospital.

For IBM, this is a valuable opportunity to test out its technology in a new setting and learn how to integrate a wide variety of data types, including electroencephalogram feeds, blood pressure readings and blood oxygen levels. The hope is that eventually InfoSphere Streams will be useful in a wide range of medical applications–anywhere where a lot of data of different types has to be analyzed in real time.

Bookmark and Share
October 21st, 2010

Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post from Lori Higdon, Senior Business Systems Analyst, Clark County, Nevada

How do you stay a progressive and results-oriented government that is responsive, accessible and accountable to 2 million citizens? A strong commitment to driving innovation focused on improving citizen service helps.

Clark Country Family Services Department is the local public agency in Nevada whose role is to help keep children safe, as required by the federal Adoption and Safe Families Act. We’re responsible for running many services – from child protective services to foster care services to adoption services – all of which require a large amount of data input and access.

Clark County used to operate on a system where the state was responsible for the back-end operations for child welfare, foster and adoption services. Only the front end services, such as intake and investigation, were the responsibility of the county.
However, significant changes made by the Nevada legislature over the years now makes all of those services the responsibility of the two largest counties in the state, one of which is mine. It’s up to us to service one of the fastest growing states in the nation.

To keep our quality of services on pace with the population growth, we needed to bring innovative ways to serve our citizens. We realized spreadsheets and hand counting of information led to confusion, errors and time delays in serving those in need. With the added requirements to work with the statewide system and benchmark new services, we had to find a solution that would not only streamline reporting, but also help us to comply with regulations and measure business performance – that’s where business analytics comes in.

Analytics has made a huge difference in how Clark Country Family Services Department works and delivers services. We’ve been able to solve our initial challenges around data access, information explosion and reporting. It’s helped us monitor case worker compliance with state policies and legislation more easily. We’ve been able to identify bottlenecks and improve business processes.

Our executives, for instance, can now look at a variety of measurements such as whether open investigations are being completed in a timely fashion, how many face-to-face contacts have taken place with victims of abuse and neglect, and the average length of stay for children in out-of-home placements.

Our analysts are also reaping the benefits. While it used to take the programming staff 14 hours to build a report, it now takes 6.5 hours – meaning that analysts can get their reports much faster. And with thousands of ad hoc and daily reports run annually, this adds up to an enormous amount of time saved for my department.

Saving the best for last, analytics has been instrumental in helping us identify more federal revenue sources. In fact, we’ve generated about $7 million in new revenue over the last 18 months – a significant amount that is especially needed in tough economic times.

The bottom line? Our staff can devote more time going out in the community and providing services to families and children vs. dealing with numbers and data.

Bookmark and Share
October 15th, 2010

Editor’s note:  The following is a guest post by Cameron Brooks, director, Smarter Water Management, IBM Big Green Innovations.


Science has made some pretty impressive advancements with water in recent years. We can, for example, harvest fog as a water source — it’s fairly effective in foggy havens like the coast of Chile. We also have the technology to turn certain groundwater contaminants (i.e. the nitrates used in fertilizer) into fuel. But for all the progress we’ve made, our water management systems are sadly lacking. Many municipalities across the U.S. lose up to 30% of their water through leaks, and for the majority of water agencies, there is no way to detect leaks preventively — residents have to quietly wait for disaster to strike before local governments repair or upgrade their utilities.

It doesn’t have to be that way, though. There’s no reason we should settle for this water loss rate given the technologies that are available today. With smart water grids, in which a sophisticated monitoring system composed of sensors, meters and data analytics are installed, we can use real-time data to dramatically reduce water loss rates. We can identify leaks in minutes, if not seconds, and make enlightened decisions about how to allocate resources. A solid IT system would require an up-front financial investment, for sure, but the alternative is to wait for a crisis situation before paying obscene sums of money to repair water lines piece by piece.

Bookmark and Share


Sometime this year the populations of 59 metropolitan areas in the world will exceed five million people — a 50 % increase from 2001.  What does that mean for transportation?

As readers know, we talk a lot about smarter transportation on the blog and the challenges that need to be addressed to improve our transportation systems.

This Thursday, October 7, Gerry Mooney, IBM General Manager of Global Government and Education will host a virtual event on the topic of smarter transportation.  He will by joined by a range of experts in the field to discuss solutions that can help address transportation issues as a whole not just piece by piece. The panels will also include a live Q&A session.

Here’s a rundown of the panels:

Improve the Traveler Experience – Panelists include Frost & Sullivan, IBM and Motorola

Urban Mobility and the Influence of Technology in Transportation – Panelists include Regional Plan Association, Intelligent Transportation Society of America and Transportation for America.

Predict Demand and Optimize Assets – Enterprise Asset Management for Transportation – Panelists include Motorola, Zebra and Total Resource Management (TRM).

You can find the full agenda here, which begins tomorrow afternoon at 1 PM Eastern.

We hope that you will have an opportunity to join us for some or all of what is sure to be an interesting conversation.

Please register here.

Bookmark and Share

The Obama administration is under tremendous pressure to make government more effective and efficient–but not spend money to make it happen. Tough job. It’s even tougher when you consider that the White House needs to cut the federal deficit even while improving America’s competitiveness.

But a proposal released today by leaders in the tech industry could make the task a bit easier. The Technology CEO Council, which includes the chief executives of IBM, Intel, Dell, EMC, Motorola and other companies, laid out recommendations aimed at saving the federal government $1 trillion over a 10-year period. One of the most attractive aspects of the proposal is that it doesn’t require a lot of up-front investments to produce sustainable, long-term gains.

The recommendations include reducing energy use in data centers, consolidating facilities, streamlining supply chains, sharing administrative systems, shifting from staff-heavy systems to electronic self-service, and using analytic tools to ferret out waste and fraud.  Here’s a link to the New York Times story about the proposal.

Every new US administration launches an efficiency program, and President Obama’s is no exception. Federal chief performance officer Jeff Zients (now the acting head of the Office of Management and Budget) is aggressively searching for smart ways to cut costs. And CIO Vivek Kundra, who works for Zients, is consolidating data centers and shifting some software applications to more efficient cloud computing models. Hopefully, this encouragement from the tech industry will help them get stuff done. Zients responded immediately with this blog post, Seeing Eye to Eye with the Tech Council.

The 12-page TCC report is peppered with specifics aimed at helping government agencies do more with less.  Motorola, for instance, saves about $1.2 billion a year as a result of integrating its supply chains. “Most of these won’t require big investments,” says Jonathan D. Breul, executive director of the IBM Center for The Business of Government and a former Office of Management and Budget senior adviser.  “A lot of it is management discipline. A lot of money is being spent needlessly. It’s a matter of redirecting it to activities that will save money.”

As IBM and Dell CEOs Sam Palmisano and Michael Dell laid out today in Politico, there are plenty of examples of how this can work from governments across the country.  For instance, by using predictive technology, New York State is validating tax refund requests, saving $889 million by catching improper refunds.

It’s going to take a lot of this kind of innovative thinking to solve the federal government’s money problems. Today’s announcement looks like it could help get the creative juices flowing.

Do you have any novel ideas for making government more efficient? Any new business models that would minimize technology costs for government agencies?

Bookmark and Share

phaedraprofileGame fanatics have been enjoying simulation games ever since SimCity was first introduced in 1989, and electronic games are used for military and corporate training, but IBMer Phaedra Boinodiris designs so-called serious games to help people solve complex business and social problems.

Today, IBM is releasing her latest creation, CityOne, an on-line game that can help city leaders, businesses, and students figure out how to make cities work better by simulating transportation, environmental, business and logistical problems. The free game challenges players to complete missions involving energy, water, banking, and retailing. “It’s like an onion,” she says. “You can jump in and play it for 20 minutes, or you can stay and go deep and learn how cities are actually using different technologies.”

If Boinodiris doesn’t seem like a prototypical IBMer, it’s because she’s not.  She was previously an entrepreneur and founder of two companies–one an Internet game portal and the other a game consulting company. Both her parents are IBM retirees, though.

Fittingly, it was a game of sorts that brought Boinodiris and IBM together. Three years ago, when she was studying for an MBA at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she participated in a business case competition versus another university. The task, posed by IBM, was coming up with an innovative way to get business people interested in business-process management software. Her idea was to draw them in by designing an electronic game that would simulate how BPM software works in an imaginary business.  One of her teammates was so sure that IBM would never accept a game as a solution that he up and quit the team on the spot. He was wrong.  Sandy Carter, an IBM vice president in the software group who was one of the judges of the competition, liked the idea so much that she hired Boinodiris as an intern–with the task of designing the game she had proposed.

YouTube Preview Image

Continue Reading »

Bookmark and Share