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Dr. David Sinclair, Senior Lecturer, School of Computing, Dublin City University

Dr. David Sinclair, Senior Lecturer, School of Computing, Dublin City University

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 »

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Sylvie Spalmacin-Roma, Vice President, Smarter Cities, IBM Europe

By Sylvie Spalmacin-Roma

If you run over a pothole or perhaps a train is delayed on your morning commute, what do you do? It’s unlikely that you would pick up the phone to call the city to report it or attend a meeting on the topic being held by your local government.  The more likely scenario is that you would take to social media to mention the location of the pothole or express your frustration with the delay.

Today’s citizens can be seen as engaged but in a very different manner.  Twitter, Facebook and other social channels serve as a 24/7 town hall meeting for an increasing number of us digitally connected citizens.  Social listening and analysis can be a valuable tool for cities.

People are passionate about their commute. Love it or hate it, we have much to say  about it. The most recent IBM Social Sentiment Index looks at sentiment in traffic around several European cities in France, Netherlands, Spain and Germany. Continue Reading »

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By Chief Frank Milstead, Mesa Police Department

Combating crime in a city like Mesa, Ariz., is never easy, but my officers here have done an amazing job of reducing crime to historic lows that haven’t been seen in 50 years. We have been able to dramatically reduce crime by 25 percent since 1991.

We’ve had a number of recent successes in reducing crime, but one incident in particular sticks in my head. Mesa PD is host of the East Valley Gang and Criminal Information Fusion Center.  The center is a combined effort between seven local law enforcement agencies to share information and we have already seen the value of sharing information.  Earlier this year, a detective in the East Valley Gang and Criminal Information Fusion Center was monitoring the patrol radio and heard a partial license plate and a vehicle description referencing a hit and run collision broadcasted over the air.  We were able to identify that four possible vehicles fit this description in near real time. This information, along with other identifying characteristics of the owner of the car allowed the detective to identify the suspect, pass the information to officers on the scene.  The officers in the field were able to quickly locate the suspect.

Through its work with IBM, the Mesa Police Department joins an elite group that includes New York, Vancouver, Northern Ireland, Memphis and many others that are using advanced analytics to protect the safety of Mesa's residents and visitors. Police Officer Todd Reed of the Mesa Police Department reviews information on a suspect in his patrol car.

While we may not always enjoy such historic low crime numbers, I am proud of the crime fighting efforts our officers have exerted in getting us here.  We will continue these efforts with vigor and continue to evaluate our processes so our citizens and visitors may continue to enjoy a safe living and working environment.  Part of this evaluation process will include a look towards technology assisted policing.  We are now embracing a Smarter Policing approach that allows us to coordinate traditional police work with more strategic use of our resources like analytics technology to gain a more holistic view of our city. Smarter Policing brings together the art and science of law enforcement that augments the experience and knowledge of our officers with the information they need to make appropriate decisions.

Smarter Policing couldn’t come at a more important time for our city. Check that, it couldn’t come at a more important time for our region because crime knows no borders. Criminals don’t care where a city’s borders begin and end. They only care about not getting caught. This has created huge challenges for me and my colleagues in neighboring cities. We were confined to our borders and really didn’t have insight into what happened a couple miles away because it wasn’t in our jurisdiction. But that is changing along with the technology to keep pace with a faster-paced, more complex world.

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Using the IBM COPLINK technology we are now able to share information with neighboring cities like Chandler, Gilbert, Tempe and almost 50 other cities throughout the state of Arizona…essentially tearing down those invisible barriers.
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By Clay Luthy, Global Distributed Energy Resource Leader, Energy & Utilities Industry, IBM

With gas prices hovering at $4.15 per gallon where I live, the talk of electric vehicles (EVs) has increased with vigor. More of my neighbors and friends are toying with the idea of making the switch – much of their reluctance though stems from the fear of inconvenience – will I find a charging station as easily as a gas pump, how will this impact my energy bill, how far can I go on a single charge? These consumer concerns are driving new innovations – uniting forward thinking players to perfect and deploy a smarter EV driving experience.

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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 and tomorrow for coverage of speeches, panels and hallway discussions.

Here’s Sam Palmisano’s speech:

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By Elly Keinan
General Manager
IBM Latin America

(Editor’s note: Keinan will be one of the hosts of IBM’s two-day Smarter Cities conference in Rio de Janeiro this week. Follow live blogging from the event on Nov. 9 and Nov. 10.)

ibmellykeinan01 cleanA year and a half ago, torrential rains in Rio de Janeiro caused floods and landslides that brought much of the city to a standstill and killed more than 100 residents. Eleven inches of rain beat down in a 24-hour period. In a city with a history of tropical rainstorms and flooding, Brazilians demanded to know why the authorities were not better prepared.

Rio’s mayor, Eduardo Paes, vowed that such a disaster would not happen again. He moved decisively to bolster the city’s defenses against weather-related disruptions. Today, the city has a new state-of-the art intelligent operations center where managers monitor dozen of screens for data concerning weather, traffic, police, medical services, and other city departments on a real-time basis and anticipate looming problems—putting defenses in place to diminish their impact.

The mayor’s actions demonstrate convincingly how bold leaders can harness the power of sophisticated technologies to transform the way a city operates—and make life better for their constituents. The technology underpinning the Rio Operations Center, which was set up by IBM consultants and software architects, has matured since the center went live almost a year ago. Now, this kind of management system is becoming available to cities of all sizes—including via a cloud computing offering, which makes it faster to deploy.

These advances represent an important moment in the evolution of cities.

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September 28th, 2011

“Hidden beneath the highways and streets of Washington DC is a sprawling infrastructure of hundreds of thousands of assets — water distribution pipes, valves, collection pipes, man holes, water meters and fire hydrants . . .

Here’s another true story from IBM’s First-of-a-Kind (FOAK) program, which pairs IBM researchers with clients to bring incredible discoveries and possibilities into view.

As DC Water discovered, bringing greater intelligence and connectedness into its operations would go a long way toward creating a truly integrated and smarter water system; and, most importantly, satisfying its thousands of customers.

And as all the FOAK projects are proving, it is the dynamic nature of this close interaction with IBM clients and the changing forces of the real world that drives innovation and brings it to market at an ever-quickening pace.

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Zia Yusuf, CEO of Streetline, Inc., a provider of innovative parking solutions

Zia Yusuf, CEO of Streetline, Inc., a provider of innovative parking solutions

By Richard Silberman, Writer/Researcher, IBM Communications

Ask Zia Yusuf what he does for a living and he’ll likely say, “I’m in the parking business.” More precisely, he’s in the business of trying to put an end to parking as we know it and utterly transform one of the most familiar and frustrating acts of daily life.

According to Yusuf, an estimated 30 percent of traffic in cities is caused by people driving around in search of parking. As CEO of San Francisco startup Streetline, Inc., Yusuf is working to deploy sensors in cities around the world to guide drivers to open parking spots and help municipalities better manage their parking and traffic resources.

Yusuf’s ultimate goal is nothing less than to change how people work and live across the world. “Pointing drivers to available parking will save them time, alleviate congestion and reduce carbon emissions,” Yusuf said. “It means happier drivers and greener cities.” Continue Reading »

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Ben Hodges, Associate Professor, UT Austin Center for Research in Water Resources

The following is a guest post authored by Ben Hodges,  Associate Professor, University of Texas at Austin Center for Research in Water Resources.

Although many of us are sweltering in record-breaking heat, a recent Wall Street Journal story about the race to shore up aging, damaged levee systems along the Mississipi River reminds us that flood season is just around the corner.  And according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the multi-billion dollar restoration won’t be done by spring.

Deciding where to begin is a complex task.  But with the right mix of technology and expertise, engineers could have a snapshot of how a river and its tributaries will behave in flood situations and other extreme weather conditions, allowing them to prioritize levee restoration efforts according to which areas are at highest risk of flooding, and when that’s likely to happen.

As part of a Research collaboration with the University of Texas at Austin, IBM has come up with a new technology that could provide such a snapshot.  YouTube Preview Image

This new flood prediction technology can simulate tens of thousands of river branches at a time and could scale further to predict the behavior of millions of branches simultaneously. By coupling analytics software with advanced weather simulation models, such as IBM’s Deep Thunder, municipalities and disaster response teams could make emergency plans and pinpoint potential flood areas on a river.

Floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States, but traditional flood prediction methods are focused only on the main stems of the largest rivers – overlooking extensive tributary networks where flooding actually starts, and where flash floods threaten lives and property.

As a testing ground, the team is presently applying the model to predict the entire 230 mile-long Guadalupe River and over 9,000 miles of tributaries in Texas. In a single hour the system can currently generate up to 100 hours of river behavior.

By combining IBM’s complex system modeling with UT Austin’s research into river physics, we’ve developed new ways to look at an old problem. Unlike previous methods, the IBM approach scales-up for massive networks and has the potential to simulate millions of river miles at once. With the use of river sensors integrated into web-based information systems, we can take this model even further.

In addition to flood prediction, a similar system could be used for irrigation management, helping to create equitable irrigation plans and ensure compliance with habitat conservation efforts. The models could allow managers to evaluate multiple “what if” scenarios to create better plans for handling both droughts and water surplus.

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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.

To see a live video of the event, click here. To learn more about the event, click here. To follow or participate via Twitter, use #icities.

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Anne Altman, general manager, Global Public Sector, IBM, talks about why cities are so important to having a sustainable planet.

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