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:
By Dr. David Sinclair
What skills will tomorrow’s city leaders need?
This is a very broad question, but it has a specific set of answers. Tomorrow’s urban leaders must organize, analyze and understand the resource that is Big Data. They will need to be able to use the sea of data pouring into their systems to predict how the city will operate and then build adaptable and informed plans to deal with the inevitable disruption and change. This set of skills fall under the heading of data analytics.
It is with these skills in mind that we have designed a Data Analytics Master’s programme at Dublin City University in partnership with IBM Research Dublin. The goal of the programme is to provide future planners with a deep understanding of the issues, as well as the techniques and tools needed to explore large amounts of raw data and extract meaningful conclusions from it. With such a skill set, tomorrows’ urban leaders will be positioned to build smarter, sustainable cities. Continue Reading »
By Rich Michos
An increasing percentage of the world’s population lives in cities, but many of the old problems persist even as new opportunities emerge. Fortunately, a new generation of leaders, comfortable with technology, is embracing the value of data analytics in decision-making in hopes that it will help them transform their cities.
As a result, in spite of financial pressures, many cities around the globe are aggressively adopting Smarter Cities technology. In a just-issued report, Navigant Research estimates that the global market for Smart Cities technology will grow from $6.1 billion annually in 2012 to more than $20 billion in 2020, a compound annual growth rate of 16.2%. This represents a cumulative investment of over $117 billion in smart city technologies between 2012 and 2020. The same report named IBM as the #1 supplier of smart city technology. Continue Reading »
By Ryan Prox
The Great One, Wayne Gretzky, once said, “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.” To keep communities safe, police need to stay several steps ahead of criminals and engage crime on a proactive basis rather than the traditional reactive model. This has been the approach of the Vancouver Police Department.
Since the deployment of investigative big data analytics software from IBM and geospatial mapping software from Esri in 2009, the Vancouver PD has been able to spot where crime is headed, and, in many cases, help stop it before it otherwise would occur. Property crime rates have dropped city-wide per 1,000 residents by 24 percent and violent crime rates have decreased by nine percent from 2007 to 2011. Here are videos about the project.
By Steve Hamm
In an event that some observers say marked a shift in the history of computing, China has for the second time placed a machine atop the list of the world’s highest-performing supercomputers. The MilkyWay-2 system was designed and developed by China’s National University of Defense Technology.
For a group of legislators and science and technology leaders gathered in Washington, D.C. today, the news of China’s triumph, which came on Monday, served as a wake up call about the importance of investing in national competitiveness. “American national security and competitiveness depends on the US not falling behind in this critical area of science and technology,” said Congressman Randy Hultgren (IL-14).
Hultgren was one of a group of Congressmen who are crafting the American Supercomputing Leadership Act, a bill aimed at funding research in high performance computing at the national laboratories. Yet it was clear from remarks made by a scientists and government officials at the event, “Cognitive Computing: A New Way of Thinking,” that for the United States to retain its leadership in computing a collaborative effort involving not just government but academia and industry will be required. Eric Isaacs, director of the Argonne National Laboratory, cautioned that science and research “should not be funded in stovepipes.” He called for the creation of co-design centers, where people from multiple government agencies, universities and private companies can work together on the most challenging problems facing humanity.
To read more about the era of cognitive computing, download a free chapter of the coming book Smart Machines, by IBM Research Director John Kelly, at http://www.cup.columbia.edu/static/cognitive.
By Karen Parrish
This week, professionals from around the world are attending eHealthWeek to discuss trends, innovations and solutions to address the ongoing challenges in healthcare. There certainly won’t be a lack of data and discussion about cost, wellness, aging populations and dealing with chronic conditions. While there are plenty of opinions, what’s missing from this deluge of points of view is a holistic approach to meeting needs of individuals – an approach IBM calls Smarter Care.
We’ve known for decades that health and social systems are interdependent and have a critical impact on each other. Yet the complex matrix of public and private stakeholders in the health and well-being of citizens still operate largely within silos, providing separate and disparate care. Continue Reading »
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 »
By Takreem El-Tohamy
There’s a wonderful word in Swahili that I think expresses one of the imperatives for the future of Africa. The word is “harambee.” It means pulling together, collaborating and supporting each other. I believe that one of the key factors in the ability of African countries to create sustainable and equitable economic growth will be the emergence of innovation ecosystems. Harambee perfectly captures an essential element of such ecosystems—the ability of institutions and individuals to pull together and build a mutually supportive environment.
Innovation ecosystems are complex organisms that are difficult to create yet tremendously powerful when they work. Think Silicon Valley. They require a melding of all of the capabilities of governments, businesses, financiers, universities, and individuals. Together, these organizations and individuals provide the web of support that makes it easier for startups to launch and grow quickly, and for established companies to innovate more aggressively. With that kind of support, African entrepreneurs and businesses will find it easier to produce new products and services, or even create whole new industries. You can think of an innovation ecosystem as a collective intelligence—harnessed for the good of society. Continue Reading »