In the aftermath of the global financial crisis and the recovery from the worst American recession since the Great Depression, government leaders have learned that they need to do more, like make improvements to infrastructure, basic services and governmental programs, but with shrinking resources.
Municipal governments have the greatest direct impact on the lives of their constituents and no matter how tight the budget, citizens expect, and deserve, action. So mayors have to think innovatively to accomplish goals, deliver services more efficiently and effectively and stimulate economic development.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter has not pared back his ambitious agenda despite reduced funding. One major focus: access to a quality education, which he refers to as “the new civil rights fight.” Mayor Nutter supports a number of creative initiatives designed to provide Philadelphians with educational opportunities and job skills to prepare them for the 21st century workforce.
Philadelphia is one of more than 60 cities worldwide that have participated in IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge program. IBM sends teams of six executives to participating cities to help them develop solutions to difficult problems. Nutter and other mayors have provided insights in to what it takes to transform cities. The lessons they learned are captured in a white paper, How to Reinvent a City.
By Steve Hamm
Patience is one of the most important virtues a researcher can possess, but some scientific pursuits require an almost preternatural calm in the face of monumental challenges. Case in point: quantum computing.
Scientists have been trying to grasp this holy grail of computing ever since Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman in 1981 challenged the scientific community to build computers based on quantum mechanics. Matthias Steffen, the manager of an experimental quantum computing project at IBM Research, believes the key to persevering in a project like this is keeping an open mind. ” You can’t stubbornly keep pursuing a path because you’re invested in it personally,” he says. “Take a breather, and be open to making changes in your approach–potentially drastically”
By Richard Silberman, Writer/Researcher, IBM Communications
Without Lubomyr Romankiw, building a smarter planet would be much more difficult, if not impossible. Personal computers, smart phones, digital cameras and DVRs may have taken much longer to become a reality. ATMs, the Internet, Blue Gene and cloud computing might still be far off fantasies.
The world as we know and enjoy it today – with its ubiquitous computers and data-storing devices – is almost unimaginable without the magnetic thin-film disk storage technology and the read-and-write magnetic head that Dr. Romankiw and Dr. David A. Thompson invented at IBM 40 years ago.
The thin-film magnetic recording head is the tiny component that reads and writes data in virtually every disk-based storage device made since 1979. Before Dr. Romankiw’s inventions of thin-film heads and the processing technology to fabricate them, data storage for even the most cutting-edge computers was cumbersome, slow and expensive.
By Kathleen Ryan
Universal Product Codes (UPCs) are part of our everyday lives. Whether we’re checking out groceries at the supermarket, getting medicine from the pharmacy, or shipping a package, the bar code and scanner are standard technologies for capturing and registering pricing and other retail information.
But it wasn’t always this way. Before bar codes, the process of pricing was laborious, time consuming and a drain on resources. Prices were placed on individual products by hand, usually with the thump of a price “stamper,” and then read by a cashier who then tapped the price into the cash register, by hand. Weekly price changes started the process all over again.
That all changed in June of 1974 when a clerk scanned a pack of Wrigley’s gum at a supermarket in Troy, Ohio. The technology rapidly took hold and today it shows up on virtually every retail product. Today the non-profit governing body for bar codes says that uniform standards for UPC codes are used by more than one million companies around the world.
One of the pioneers of bar code technology, retired IBM employee N. Joseph Woodland, died this week. He was 91.
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By Richard Silberman, Writer/Researcher, IBM Communications
Robert Waymouth, Ph.D., maintains the sense of awe that he’s had since his earliest days as a chemist, savoring those “marvelous moments where it just takes your breath away, you can’t believe something worked like that.”
Waymouth, a professor of chemistry at Stanford University, had one such moment in 2004 when he and his grad students discovered a new way to make molecules using organic catalysts. That breakthrough, followed by years of research with colleague Jim Hedrick at IBM Research in Almaden, Calif., has yielded a process to make environmentally sustainable plastics that could lead to smarter recycling methods, a drastic reduction in plastics pollution and even a safer, more efficient way to administer drugs.
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Innovation and collaboration will be crucial to boosting jobs and economic competitiveness in the the coming years. A strong example of these levers at work is the just-announced IBM Center for Advanced Analytics in Columbus, Ohio. The new center, which is expected to employ 500 people within three years, will focus on research, product development, client services and skills training in the areas of Big Data, analytics, and cognitive computing. IBM is collaborating with Ohio State University to develop new business and technology curricula to help students and mid-career professionals prepare for the high-value jobs of the future. Ohio officials hope what the center will help foster entrepreneurship and new business initiatives.
Here’s U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown for Ohio talking about his belief that innovation will accelerate economic growth in his state:
IBM Research scientist Bruno Michel is a classic intellectual omnivore, with scientific interests ranging from semiconductors and computer system design to solar energy, biology and water cooling systems. His interests are just as varied in his non-professional life. He’s a serious tap dancer, a long distance hiker and a ski touring fanatic. In fact, his trips into the Swiss alps near his home in Zurich created a bridge between his personal and professional lives. Over years of repeatedly visiting glaciers in the mountains, he has seen firsthand the effects of global warming. The glaciers are shrinking. And fast. His quest as a scientist is to find ways to use less energy in computing. Here’s a video profile in which Bruno describes his career path, his motivations and some of his ideas for saving the planet.
By Charlotte Davies
From tracking the illegal trading of ozone-depleting substances, to helping law enforcement agencies stop the trade of endangered big cats in Asia, data analytics increasingly is being used to fight environmental crime. Much like organized crime, environmental crime can be localized or global. Left unchecked, it can threaten biodiversity and species’ survival on a global level.
Part of my mission as a crime analyst is to assist the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) in protecting the last of Asia’s endangered big cats — including the tiger, leopard, snow leopard and clouded leopard — which currently face various threats including habitat degradation, prey decline and poaching for their skin and bones. Using data analytics, my ability to track the illegal trade is now easier.
- By Mary Keeling
- Water is one of our most essential resources – yet much of the water we use every day is “hidden” as an indirect, yet critical, component of something else – food, health, energy, transportation and more. And of all the water on Earth, only 1 percent of it is useable by ecosystems and humans. In other words, a little bit of water needs to go a long way.
As the world’s population increases from today’s 7 billion to an estimated 8 billion in 2025, the demand for water will rise to satisfy increased demand for food, particularly as meat consumption in global diets increase. Every time you consume a kilo of beef you many not realize that it takes 15,500 liters of water to produce it. For comparison, it takes 1,300 liters of water to produce a kilo of wheat.