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 »
By Florian Pinel
Raise your hand if you have interests outside of your day job. Probably most everyone, I imagine. Now, how often do they serendipitously collide? Probably not that often, right? But that’s what happened for me two years ago when I applied my computer science skills to my love of the culinary arts as part of IBM’s Cognitive Cooking project.
If you’re attending South by Southwest in Austin from March 7-11, come meet me at the IBM Food Truck. I’ll be showing how this recipe-generating technology works, while chefs will be preparing the dishes you can vote for on Twitter.
The idea started when my team was brainstorming on “Watson-like projects” – nothing so specific as “cooking,” yet. We wanted to know: could the cognitive computing that Watson uses in healthcare and other industries, also be creative?
That angle then spun into “could a machine come up with a recipe we could make into a dish that we would actually want to eat?” You can read about its early iterations, and its potential societal impacts, in the 2012 IBM 5 in 5: Taste prediction. Continue Reading »
By Paul Chang
In a 2010 study conducted for the European Food Safety Authority, 58 percent of a sample of 27,000 consumers across the European Union said they were confident that farmers would convey information on food risks. Their confidence rate for food manufacturers (35 percent) and retailers (36 percent) was much lower.
That’s good news for farmers. But what about the other players in the food supply chain? How can they start improving their confidence rankings? One way, is to start providing more information about their products. Consumers around the globe are growing increasingly savvy and increasingly hungry for information. So why not give it to them?
Traceability has become a hot topic as global companies try to stay ahead of real-time consumer reaction that spreads like wildfire on social media. From fruits and vegetables to pharmaceuticals, traceability systems are being used to track product ingredients, movements and ownership throughout the supply chain to improve products and services.
This was a major topic in February at the first meeting of the Innovations for Environmental Sustainability Council, which the IBM formed with the World Environment Center and companies including Boeing, CH2M Hill, Coca-Cola, Dow Chemical, F. Hoffman-La Roche, General Motors, Ingersoll Rand, Johnson & Johnson and Walt Disney.
We agreed that as advances in technology have made it easier to acquire and analyze information about product development, distribution and use, the issue of traceability has moved front-and-center for business and competitive strategy.
Rio De Janeiro is a bustling metropolis in a booming country–and, increasingly, an example of how government and business leaders can cooperate to make cities work better. Join the live blog today for a second day of coverage of speeches, panels and hallway discussions.
Here’s Ginni Rometty, IBM’s senior vice president for Sales, Marketing and Strategy (and IBM’s next CEO) talking about how to build a smarter city.
By Robert Atkinson
Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.
Robert Atkinson, president of the non-partisan public policy think-tank ITIF, today moderated a panel of experts on emerging technologies in the fields of health care, transportation and energy at IBM’s Frontiers of IT Capitol Hill briefing.
Here’s the Washington Post’s Post Tech blog curtain-raiser on the event.
Recently considerable attention has been drawn to the emergence of “Big Data”—large scale data sets that businesses are using to unlock new value using today’s computing and communications power. As a McKinsey Global Institute study recently showed, Big Data offers a wide range of commercial opportunities in virtually every sector of the economy for the United States. To take one example, the authors estimate that better use of big data in health care could generate an additional $300 billion in long-term value, with approximately two-thirds of that coming from a direct reduction in national health care expenditures.
The use of Big Data should not be confined to just the private sector; data offers incredible new opportunities to the public sector as well. Policymakers have the opportunity to use Big Data to improve government in areas such as public safety, public health, public utilities and public transportation. ITIF has discussed many of these opportunities before.
Consider the following:
- Electric power utilities can use data analytics and smart meters to better manage resources and avoid blackouts,
- Food inspectors can use data to better track meat and produce safety from farm to fork ,
- Public health officials can use health data to detect infectious disease outbreaks,
- Regulators can track pharmaceutical and medical device safety and effectiveness through better data analytics,
- Police departments can use data analytics to target crime hotspots and prevent crime waves,
- Public utilities can use sensors to collect data on water and sewer usage to detect leaks and reduce water consumption,
- First responders can use sensors, GPS, cameras and better communication systems to let police and fire fighters better protect citizens when responding to emergencies, and
- State departments of transportation can use data to reduce traffic, more efficiently deploy resources, and implement congestion pricing systems
If you have any familiarity with Milwaukee, Wisconsin, you know that it’s on the shores of Lake Michigan, one of the largest fresh-water lakes in the world, and it’s located in the American Midwest, one of the world’s most fertile and productive farming regions.
So why does Milwaukee aim to become a model for smart water management and urban food production? And why is it experimenting with aquaponics–systems that combine soil-less vegetable growing with fish farming?
Milwaukee is concerned about water because its traditional industries, including meatpacking, tanning, shoe making, beer brewing and heavy manufacturing, are all major water users. In addition, the city experienced the largest waterborne disease outbreak in US history in 1993 when the protozoan parasite cryptosporidium appeared in the municipal water supply and made more than 1.6 million people sick. Two years ago, the city formed the Milwaukee Water Council, made up of representatives of government, academia and industry, with the goal of making the city a recognized global leader in water-related technologies.
The city is interested in urban farming because some of its neighborhoods are so-called food deserts. Large grocery stores don’t locate outlets there, so people rely on small stores, which often charge high prices for processed food. There’s a shortage of healthy food such as fresh vegetables and fish. So city leaders are promoting community gardening, large-scale composting and the nascent aquaponics industry. “The urban agriculture movement in Milwaukee is bringing local food production to the block level,” says Rocky Marcoux, commissioner, Milwaukee department of city development. “We can feed our population more economically and sustainably. We can put our neighborhoods in charge of their own destiny.”
In June, a team of five IBMers spent three weeks in Milwaukee as part of the company’s Smarter City Challenge grant program with the goal of helping city leaders explore the feasibility of their urban farming initiative.
IBM has plenty of company when it comes to deep concern and deep thinking about the future of cities. Today, at the Intelligent Cities Forum in Washington, D.C., hundreds of urban planners, city leaders and data mavens are gathering to share insights on ways to make cities more successful and sustainable using data, analytics, collaboration and foresight. The A Smarter Planet blog will feature live blogging from the event, so please return here frequently to see updates.
Anne Altman, general manager, Global Public Sector, IBM, talks about why cities are so important to having a sustainable planet.
IBM has plenty of company when it comes to deep concern and deep thinking about the future of cities. Monday, at the Intelligent Cities Forum in Washington, D.C., hundreds of urban planners, city leaders and data mavens will gather to share insights on ways to make cities more successful and sustainable using data, analytics, collaboration and foresight. The A Smarter Planet blog will feature live blogging from the event, so please return here frequently to see updates.
IBM uses the term smarter cities. It’s an essential piece of the overall Smarter Planet strategy. The company believes that smarter cities drive sustainable economic growth by leveraging information to make better decisions, coordinating resources to operate more effectively and anticipating problems so they can be resolved before they get too big. If cities manage their knowledge wisely and aggressively, they’ll become better places to live and will create abundant economic opportunities for their citizens in a rapidly changing world.
There’s no shortage of contests for tech startups in this world, but IBM’s SmartCamp is different. The focus is on companies that aim to make the world work better, and is aligned with our Smarter Planet agenda. We launched the program last year in Dublin and conducted regional contests this spring and summer in Stockholm, Boston, Tel Aviv, London, and Silicon Valley. (This video tells the Silicon Valley story.) There are still two contests left, in Paris on Sept. 24 and Copenhagen on Oct. 7, before the finals in Dublin on Nov. 16. So there’s time for entrepreneurs to get involved. Check it out at www.ibm.com/ie/smarterplanet/smartcamp.