By Osamuyimen T. Stewart, Ph.D.
The World Health Organization estimates that almost 10,000 cases of the Ebola virus disease have been reported since the latest outbreak was first reported in March 2014, resulting in more than 4,800 deaths. According to the WHO, widespread and intense transmission is occurring in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, while localized transmissions have occurred in other countries, such as the U.S.
Of the many daunting challenges facing local governments and aid organizations as they try to contain and manage the virus is the collection and analysis of information — current and insightful data about the situation on the ground, such as the needs of affected people, the supplies and services they require and the need for education to address socio-cultural obstacles.
If we can map all the data, we can figure out what needs to be done and who we need to partner with to get it done. Continue Reading »
One year ago, IBM, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the Fund for Lake George announced the Jefferson Project, an ambitious effort to model the entire lake – its depths and shoreline – to get a holistic and accurate view of everything happening in and around one of the United State’s pristine lakes.
The goals of the project are multifold and include understanding and managing the complex factors impacting the lake, from invasive species, pollution, and other factors, to developing a template to use in other fresh water bodies around the globe. Continue Reading »
By Harry van Dorenmalen
Societies across the world are reaping huge benefits from the new natural resource that is data. But at the same time that people are experiencing improvements in public safety, health care, flood protection, weather prediction, transport planning or water resource management, politicians around the globe are grappling with how to legislate data.
Here in Europe, the European Commission’s DG Connect has been instrumental in promoting an innovative Digital Economy. However, rhetoric that is currently emanating from parts of Europe reminds me of this: that in mid-19th century Britain, laws forbade the use of self-propelled vehicles without a person walking in front, waving a red flag to warn pedestrians of a vehicle’s approach and to slow its speed. This dramatic measure hindered early automotive adoption. Continue Reading »
By Andrew Maner
As IBM’s Center for the Business of Government recently discovered, government CIOs don’t want sole ownership of Big Data. The irony isn’t lost on me since CIO does stand for Chief Information Officer. But when you peel back the onion a bit, their position starts to make sense.
Big Data is a new frontier for the public sector and it’s being generated by everything around us – all the time. It’s arriving from multiple sources at high velocity, volume, and variety. As it grows, CIOs and government leaders are trying to understand how to extract value that improves the functions of government while simultaneously addressing privacy and security issues.
So why don’t more government CIO’s see the importance of having IT units own the Big Data projects? Big Data is proving to be a useful resource beyond the back office. Many front office roles are starting to get more hands-on in their use of data and, frankly, they have a better understanding of their own needs and opportunities for innovation. Continue Reading »
By Steve Hamm
IBM researcher Solomon Assefa likes to operate at the intersections of scientific domains and social institutions. It allows him to envision ways of using cutting-edge technologies to tackle new challenges. In a recent example of how his approach can pay off, he made the connections that resulted in a small team of IBM scientists helping boost a United Nations Children’s Fund social networking project that could improve the lives of millions throughout the continent of Africa. Continue Reading »
By Erich Clementi
The U.S. Department of Interior is embarking on a multi-year process of shifting its traditional information technology systems to a cloud computing-based delivery model. The agency’s 16 bureaus and offices, which manage assets ranging from national parks and monuments to wildlife refuges, dams and reservoirs, spend in excess of $1 billion a year on IT—but have promised to save $100 million per year from 2016 to 2021 via the shift to the cloud.
The financial impact of the move will be substantial, but, in addition, the Interior department is putting in place a long-term strategy aimed at using the cloud to help transform the way it operates—making it more nimble, innovative and responsive to the needs of its constituents. It plans on using the savings it reaps from the shift to fund investments in new capabilities. Continue Reading »
By Amitabh Kant
By John Tolva
When I left IBM just over two years ago to become the first Chief Technology Officer for the City of Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel gave me clear marching orders. I was to take the lead in setting high standards for open, participatory government to involve all Chicagoans. At the time, Chicago lagged behind other American cities in open data access and other digital city initiatives.Thanks to a lot of work and creativity by Chicagoans in government, non-profits, businesses and community groups—not to mention individuals–we have more than caught up. We achieved great progress in making city data available to all, in catalyzing an app economy and in improving digital literacy. Yet I feel that we have just scratched the surface of what’s possible when it comes to fostering participatory democracy. Continue Reading »
By Kaethe Engler
I grew up on a farm in Germany where my family raised cattle, horses and sheep, but I had never seen anything like the scene I recently witnessed at a cattle market in Adama, Ethiopia. The market was a sprawling collection of huts and outdoor pens crawling with all manner of livestock. Farmers, traders and buyers sized up the animals and dickered to make deals. It seemed like chaos to the untrained eye.
In fact, it was more like a puzzle to be solved. Two IBM colleagues and I who are members of the Corporate Service Corps team in Ethiopia were visiting Adama to learn how livestock markets in Ethiopia work. Our goal was to be able to make recommendations on how information technology could help them work better.
IBM isn’t known for having expertise in agriculture, but part of the company’s commitment to Africa is being willing to listen to the local people, understand their needs, and produce technology-based solutions that improve local businesses, economies and society as a whole. To read more, go to the CitizenIBM blog.
Rachel Haot is the chief digital officer for New York City, heading the NYC Digital program. Mayor Michael Bloomberg appointed her to the newly-created post in 2011. Previously, Haot founded GroundReport, a crowdsourced news Web site based in New York. She recently answered some questions for the A Smarter Planet blog about what it takes to make a digital city. Here’s an edited version of the interview:
A Smarter Planet: Why did you accept Mayor Bloomberg’s offer to become New York’s first chief digital officer?
Haot: I had always been interested in the intersection of technology and government, so I saw his offer as a phenomenal chance to serve the greatest city on earth and to help to galvanize the momentum that I already saw building. Our goal at the start was to create the first digital roadmap that any city has produced, and to use that roadmap to make a difference in the lives of New Yorkers.
Here’s Haot talking about how to run a successful hackathon: