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By Wayne Balta

After years of progress, deforestation of the Amazon basin in Brazil has increased for the past two years running. It rose by 29% in the last recorded year, according to a recent report from the Brazilian government.

The Nature Conservancy, which is the largest environmental advocacy group in the world, has adopted a promising approach to addressing deforestation, which it calls “conservation with development.” Continue Reading »

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Drew Johnson, Vice President, Engineering, Aeris Communications

Drew Johnson, Vice President, Engineering, Aeris Communications

By Drew Johnson

As the Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communications connect millions of diverse machines over networks, the goal is to make the combination of those machines greater than the sum of each type and to provide people with greater information and insight as the ecosystem expands.

To achieve this level of interconnectivity, businesses that depend on those machines need them to work reliably, securely, and cost-effectively – without human intervention. That’s where an unexpected technology function comes in to help: crowdsourcing.

Crowdsourcing typically conjures up images of people-driven programs, like traffic information gathered from thousands of commuters or weather reports created by people supplying pictures and information from their mobile devices. Continue Reading »

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The Brazilian Amazon rainforest. Photo credit: Haroldo Palo Jr.

The Brazilian Amazon rainforest. (Photo: Haroldo Palo Jr.)

By Steve Hamm, IBM Writer

With its warm, wet climate and vast expanse of 2.7 million square miles of land, the Amazon River basin has the potential to become one of the world’s most productive agricultural regions—essential for feeding a global population that’s fast-approaching eight billion.

Yet, at the same time, the Amazon rainforest is an invaluable—and imperiled–natural resource. According to The Nature Conservancy, no other place is more critical to human survival. The basin, which is about the size of the United States and touches eight countries, harbors one-third of the planet’s biodiversity, produces one-fourth of the fresh water and plays a key role in warding off the worst effects of climate change. Continue Reading »

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Eric Engquist, assistant VP, USAA

Eric Engquist, assistant VP, USAA

By Eric Engquist

When I left the US Army in 2005, it was an incredibly stressful experience. In fact, I tell people today that I’m the quintessential example of what not to do when you’re transitioning to civilian life.

From childhood, I had planned on serving in the military. It was a family tradition.  But after serving as an infantry officer for 8 years, including deployments to Kosovo and Iraq, I decided to leave the military, get married and start a family.

Problem was, I didn’t know what to expect after I exited the military. I didn’t have a career plan, or a financial plan or even a firm sense of where I would live. As a result, it took me nearly six months to land a job.

That’s why, as the assistant vice president in charge of military transitions at USAA, I am passionate about serving our military members and their families, and am determined to do everything I can to ease their journey. And, I’m happy to say that we’re getting help from IBM Watson—the cognitive computing system.

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December 20th, 2013
11:20
 

Diego Sanchez Gallo, Scientist, IBM Research – Brazil

Diego Sanchez Gallo
Research Scientist
IBM Research – Brazil

By Diego Sanchez Gallo

Walking down the street or on a sidewalk shouldn’t be hazardous to your health. But uneven pathways, cracks in the pavement, or some other unexpected obstacle trip up pedestrians all the time; and at worst, force those with disabilities to take inconvenient detours. IBM Research wants you to take a picture of your next stumbling block with the Rota Acessível (English version: Accessible Way) app – and help others avoid the same pitfall.

Inspired by another IBM crowdsource app, CreekWatch, my team in Sao Paulo developed a way for citizens to collaborate on “watching” their urban infrastructure – acting as human sensors of the city. Accessible Way geo-localizes the photos that users take, and puts them on a map visible to others using the app. Continue Reading »

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Marie Kenerson, chief collaboration and learning officer, Colleagues In Care

Marie Kenerson, Chief Collaboration and Learning Officer, Colleagues In Care

By Richard Silberman, Writer/Researcher, IBM Communications

Out of the devastation of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, a new, cloud-based model for delivering quality, sustainable healthcare to destitute populations is rising.

Marie Kenerson, chief collaboration and learning officer at Colleagues In Care (CIC), is leading the drive to virtually connect healthcare professionals from around the globe to collaborate, share best medical practices and develop training programs for healthcare workers in Haiti. It’s a model that not only promises to transform healthcare delivery in Haiti, but it can be replicated anywhere in the world to help populations in need and enable true transformational social change. Continue Reading »

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Alfred Vanderpuije, Mayor of Accra, Ghana

Alfred Vanderpuije, Mayor of Accra, Ghana

By Alfred Vanderpuije

This week at the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town, leaders will come together to discuss Africa’s future. One of the three focus themes is the importance of ‘Strategic Infrastructure’ as a foundation for the continent’s growth. As Mayor of Accra and Chief Executive of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly, I would say that there are few areas as crucial for infrastructure investment as cities.

Buoyed by an emerging oil and gas industry and a rapidly growing consumer class, Ghana’s economy is one of the fastest growing in the world. Investors are flocking to the country’s capital Accra to take advantage of new business opportunities and become part of this success story. Mastercard recently identified Accra as one of Africa’s top cities in terms of economic growth potential over the next few years. Local and foreign firms are also driving a number of urban development opportunities such as Ghana Cyber City, King City and Appolonia City which aim to set up modern, high-tech hubs within and around Accra. Continue Reading »

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Ahmed Simjee, Smarter Planet Leader, IBM South Africa

By Ahmed Simjee

When I was growing up in South Africa, my family was fortunate.  We had access to fresh drinking water. At first we lived on a small farm near Johannesburg, where we used a well. Later, when I moved closer to the city, I had good tap water. But many of my fellow South Africans weren’t so lucky, and, even today, many people in the rural areas and in informal settlements near the cities don’t have ready access to fresh drinking water. That’s why I’m extremely pleased to be spearheading an initiative in South Africa, WaterWatchers, which is aimed at using mobile phones and crowdsourcing to cut down on leaks and wasted water.

We’re launching our free WaterWatchers app today in Gauteng Province, home of Johannesburg and the capital city, Tshwane. With 12.3 million residents, the province represents 23% of South Africa’s population. We timed the launch to coincide with the United Nations’ World Water Day. If you’re in South Africa, please download the app. Continue Reading »

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Jeffrey Nichols, IBM Research Staff Member

By Richard Silberman, Writer/Researcher, IBM Communications

Jeffrey Nichols is putting a new twist on Twitter that could change the way businesses use social media to identify, engage and market to customers.

“What we actually see from Twitter is just the tip of the information iceberg,” said Nichols, who manages the social media and crowd research team at IBM Research in Almaden, Calif. “Below every tweet there’s a lot more information that people have that they’re not sharing.”

Determined to extract hidden information from social media, Nichols is developing strategies to ask questions directly of targeted strangers over Twitter. The crux of Nichols work is to move from the ubiquitous reactive approach to social media, where marketers follow and respond to what people are saying, to a proactive model where they can reach out to individuals to collect specific information. Continue Reading »

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