Instrumented Interconnecteds Intelligent
February, 23rd 2012
15:29
 

IBM has been helping cities develop sophisticated monitoring and management systems for several years, but, until now, most of the technology solutions it provided were made to order. That’s not sustainable. A just-announced engagement with Zhenjiang, a  a tourist destination in northern China, represents the first publicly-discussed example of a smarter cities solution that is being built on a single sophisticated software platform, called the Intelligent Operations Center.

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Think of the IOC as an operating system for cities.  IBM scientists, engineers and consultants fashioned the IOC by incorporating the lessons they learned about how cities work and how to use technology to make them work better. These lessons came from engagements with New York City, Stockholm, Singapore, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and other places. The IOC platform integrates streams of data from many sources, public and private. The developers are making specialized software application modules that click into place in the IOC platform like Legos—starting with transportation, which is being used in Zhenjiang.

Leaders in Zhenjiang, which has a population of 3 million, realized that the city could not continue to grow rapidly and remain an attractive tourist destination. So they decided to come to grips with growth before it does real damage to the quality of life.

The plan is to make over the city’s public transportation system and steer traffic more efficiently. Using data gathered from sensors, video cameras, satellite images, the IOC will provide a comprehensive, real-time picture of the city’s transportation network. City managers will be able to anticipate traffic problems and reroute vehicles using programmable traffic lights and other signals. They’re also using the data to optimize the schedules for 1,000 buses serving 400 bus stations. Technology from IBM Research provides the predictive analytics that will make it possible for managers to anticipate problems and avoid them.

One of the key elements of making cities smarter is being able to recognize patterns that are common to boomtowns in Asia, industrial cities in the American midwest or cultural capitals of Europe. Once you spot the commonalities, you can design expert systems for managing those aspects of cities. The IOC software is a major (yet still early) step along the path to providing cities with affordable technology that will help them transform the way operate.

Here’s the story of Rio’s intelligent operations center:

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4 Comments
 
September 6, 2012
5:43 am

you don’t understand a shit about systems theory if you try to control and monitoring it. You forget a lot of things ( from physics, to human behaviour). Smart cities, as other smart things in universe, are SIMPLE, with EMERGENT properties ( not planned ones), and (YES, sorry) where invented thousands years ago. Read a bit, please.


Posted by: dazzler
 
February 24, 2012
5:09 am

Awesome that you are on this and getting the news out in understandable terms. Thank you.


Posted by: Building management system
 
February 23, 2012
9:01 pm

This project is really inspiring for a soon-to-be systems engineer / computer scientist. I truly believe this is a great lesson for us to see how far our minds and current computing can go, and how systemic the whole world is.

I think such projects are not only useful in such developed -and growing- cities: imagine trying to solve the chaos existing in third world cities, like the one I live in (Bogotá, Colombia, a city with more than 7 million inhabitants and no tram/subway/etc)! Although there must be a huge investment on infrastructure in order to get to such results, which such cities perhaps can’t afford, using the power of data, analysis and passion for a sustainable living could help us live much better :).

I’m loving this project and hope (believe) this approach is successful: Hopefully, we won’t need too long to gather information about the kind of city I’m talking about – maybe we’ll also be able to have a more sustainable life soon over here :)


Posted by: Ligia Pastrán
 
February 23, 2012
5:41 pm

I very much like the idea of operating systems (OS) for cities for two reasons: (1) it shows how the concept and logic of OS can be extended beyond personal computers and mobile devices; and (2) it allows for viewing a city as an ecosystem of complementary players whose actions and interactions impact the welfare of the system.

Too often, we have looked at improving the efficiency of cities in piecemeal fashion, using a disjointed frame. By imposing the logic of architecture of OS, we can bring much needed clarity of the coordination necessary for order-of-magniture improvement in how cities function.

To me, it is also about the shift to digital networks away from the industrial era view of cities and urban planning. We need a new frame.


Posted by: N. Venkatraman
 
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July 28, 2012
5:02 pm

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