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James Spohrer, Director, IBM Global University Programs

James Spohrer, Director, IBM Global University Programs

By Jim Spohrer

Moore’s Law describes the phenomenon that drives rapid progress in the electronics industry.  Taking advantage of the laws of physics, engineers have been able to pack transistors ever more densely onto semiconductor chips, doubling their capacity every 18-24 months. The effect of this so-called “scaling” phenomenon is the ability to do more with less space, continuously increasing the capabilities and lowering the cost of computing. Rapid progress is built into the system.

Society’s efforts to scale higher education have not been so successful. Sure, the world’s developed economies handle an immense quantity of university students. In the United States alone, nearly 5,000 institutions of higher education serve more than 20 million students. Yet the way we have scaled up to produce the number of knowledge workers required by modern society is ineffective and unsustainable. In the US, the cost of higher education has increased by 1,120% over the past 35 years, four times the increase in the consumer price index.  And stasis, rather than progress, is built into the system. Continue Reading »

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Kala Fleming, Water Research Scientist, IBM Research - Africa

Kala Fleming, Water Research Scientist, IBM Research – Africa

By Kala Fleming

On the tiny island of Antigua where I grew up we always had enough water. We never had to call a water truck and to our knowledge, no one ever got sick from drinking the water in its natural state. The ‘natural’ state of water on Antigua is straight to the downpipe from the roof and into a concrete tank in the ground under each house. Community ponds also captured extra rainfall that others used for watering animals and washing cars.

Rainwater harvesting in the Caribbean provides a more reliable source of supply than piped systems and the geology of the region limits the availability of ground water. In the Virgin Islands, building regulations even require all new houses to harvest rainwater. So, in places such as urban Africa where ensuring water security has become increasingly tricky, why has this approach not caught on? Continue Reading »

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Dr. Eoin Lane, Master Inventor, IBM Intelligent Water Architect - Smarter Cities

Dr. Eoin Lane, Master Inventor, IBM Intelligent Water Architect – Smarter Cities

By Dr. Eoin Lane

On World Water Day this year, IBM is exploring how fundamental shifts in technology can help address the world’s water problem. Dr. Kala Flemming from the IBM Research Lab in Kenya is an expert in this area and is working on a water project to solve ground water problems in sub-saharan Africa using something as simple as an app, a hashtag and citizens acting as sensors.

For much of Africa, people rely on boreholes as a source of water. This is a narrow shaft bored vertically in the ground and allows access to the underlying groundwater or aquifer. A borehole will have location coordinates (such as latitude and longitude), depth and also how much water is drawn from the borehole. Aquifer and groundwater constantly get replenished with rain water. However, if the aquifer is being drained faster than is it being replenished there is an issue. Continue Reading »

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Matt Gross, Founder, Mobile Monday Boston; Mobile First Software

Matt Gross, Founder, Mobile Monday Boston; Mobile First Software

In February at Mobile World Congress, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty launched the IBM Watson Mobile Developer Challenge, a first of its kind, global competition to encourage software developers to create mobile consumer and business apps powered by Watson. The IBM Watson Mobile Developer Challenge encourages the millions of mobile developers around the world to build sophisticated cognitive apps that can change the way consumers and businesses interact with data using mobile devices. For more insight on the challenge and app development trends in general, the Smarter Planet blog turned to Matt Gross, founder of Mobile Monday Boston, a community of nearly 8,000 professionals interested in mobile, and Mobile First Software, a mobile strategy consultancy.

Smarter Planet: Analysts predict that by 2017, there could be 200 billion downloads of mobile apps. What do you view as the major factors driving that volume?
Matt Gross: The popularity of apps is driven by smartphone penetration, which is growing by leaps and bounds.  It’s well over 50% in the developed world, and continues to accelerate in major emerging markets.  In parallel, the data plans offered by carriers are falling in price and becoming less restrictive, while free Wifi access is also expanding.  These converging factors continue to spur device usage, and make it easier than ever for users to download and utilize more apps. For many consumers, apps are becoming a primary channel to connect with brands they care about, and for organizations to extend offers to build customer loyalty and engagement. Continue Reading »

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Paige Poore, BCRS Director and CTO, IBM Global Business Continuity Management

Paige Poore, BCRS Director and CTO, IBM Global Business Continuity Management

By Paige Poore

In today’s world of economic, social and political uncertainty, organizations are confronted with an ever-increasing range of risks to deal with. Meeting these demands in a global economy means today’s enterprise must be highly resilient and able to anticipate multiple risks. For IT risk management, this requires understanding of which of the most common threats are most likely to cause business and IT disruptions.

Virtually every aspect of your business is vulnerable to disruption. Some continuity issues could take your business offline for days, but even minutes of downtime can prove costly. Business and IT disruptions that result from business continuity and IT security failures will cost organizations an estimated average total of $19.6 million over the next 24 months.

With costs this significant, IT professionals, C-suite executives and business owners alike requirefact-based insight into the causes and financial consequences of these incidents—including the cost of damage to reputation and brand value. Continue Reading »

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Sean McKenna, Senior Manager at the IBM Smarter Cities Technology Centre, Dublin, Ireland

Sean McKenna, PhD., Senior Manager at the IBM Smarter Cities Technology Centre, Dublin, Ireland

By Sean McKenna, PhD. 

In heavily populated regions of the world, the available water is fully subscribed. That is, claims have been made on all the available water for different uses including recreation, drinking water supply, industry, agriculture, and energy production.

As global energy consumption continues to rise (estimated 56 percent growth between 2010 and 2040 – US Energy Information Administration, 2013), additional water will be needed to increase energy production.

Finding water that is not already claimed is becoming difficult. However additional efficiencies can be obtained through improved management of the existing water resource. Generating energy through less water intensive means is another approach, but even Solar PV and wind turbines require water to mine and manufacture the materials that comprise them. Continue Reading »

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Theresa Payton, Founder, Fortalice, LLC; Author

Theresa Payton, Founder, Fortalice, LLC; Author

From 2006-2008, Theresa Payton served as the White House CIO for the Bush administration. In 2008 she founded Fortalice, a security consulting firm focused on fraud issues related to consumer protection. She spoke today at IBM’s Counter Fraud Summit in New York. A Smarter Planet caught up with her to get her perspectives.  Here’s a snapshot of that conversation.

Smarter Planet: What types of fraud do you believe businesses should brace themselves for in 2014 and beyond?
Theresa Payton: There are multiple types of fraud consistently reported by businesses around the globe. They include the back office type, such as asset misappropriation, accounting fraud and procurement fraud. There are also fraud and financial crimes related to money laundering, and false claims. And then there’s also cybercrime. With all the digital smokescreens now available, I believe you will see these types of fraud continue. But you will also see cybercrime as a percentage of overall fraud numbers climb as the entry point to fraudulent activity. Continue Reading »

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Robert Griffin, Vice President, Industry Solutions, IBM

Robert Griffin, Vice President, Counter Fraud Solutions, IBM

By Robert Griffin

“Fraud is a normal cost of doing business.”

Any organization that subscribes to this long-standing mantra needs to rethink their priorities. With 2.5 billion gigabytes of data created every day, fraud is taking on a new face in the Big Data world.

According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), organizations forfeit five percent of annual revenue to fraud, which by conservative estimates amounts to more than $3.5 trillion lost each year to global fraud and financial crimes. Fraudulent activity has grown in scope, volume and complexity, with the brash sophistication of recent attacks — and magnitude of damage, both to the brand and bottom line — elevating the anti-fraud conversation from acceptable loss to C-Suite imperative.

Today’s generation of organized and digitally-savvy criminals are using the same technologies that deliver efficiency to business and convenience to consumers — such as mobile devices, social networks and cloud platforms — to constantly probe for vulnerabilities and weaknesses. The pace of this threat continues to accelerate. Identity fraud impacted more than 12 million individuals in 2012, resulting in theft of nearly $21 billion, and each day the U.S. healthcare industry loses $650 million due to fraudulent claims and payments. Continue Reading »

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Robert B. Darnell, MD, PhD, President and Scientific Director, New York Genome Center

Robert B. Darnell, MD, PhD, President and Scientific Director, New York Genome Center

By Robert B. Darnell, MD, PhD

When I was studying for my PhD in molecular biology in the 1980s, I labored heads-down for a year in a wet lab sequencing 140 base pairs of genes. It was hard work. Today, using the most advanced gene sequencing machines at the New York Genome Center, this year we will sequence 65 million base pairs every second (4 billion every minute). Stunning.

The genetic revolution that began when James Watson and Francis Crick discovered the double-helix structure of DNA in 1953 is racing ahead at a dizzying speed. The epic Human Genome Project in the 1990s mapped the entire genome, giving scientists a much clearer understanding of how the body works. And, over the past decade, gene sequencing machines have made it possible to affordably sequence every base pair in an individual’s entire genome.

But to make this technology truly relevant to human disease, something was missing. There has been a mismatch between the amount of data generated and powerful analytical tools capable of making sense of that vast amount of genetic information—the Big Data of human biology. Continue Reading »

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Kala Fleming, IBM Research scientist

Kala Fleming, IBM Research scientist

By Kamal Bhattacharya

Kala Fleming grew up on the Caribbean island of Antigua. Her father repaired cars and her mother worked as a nurse. She always dreamed of going to college, and her wish came true. Not only did she graduate with a degree in chemistry from a college in the Virgin Islands, but she went on to get a PhD in civil and environmental engineering at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, focusing on water distribution and quality. After 10 years as a professional, she has brought all of that knowledge and expertise to her job as a scientist at IBM Research – Africa.

But Kala didn’t come to Africa convinced that she had all the answers. She understands that in order to create innovations that are relevant and commercially viable in Africa, she has a lot to learn from the people here. Indigenous knowledge and ingenuity will be required to produce innovations capable of transforming societies. Continue Reading »

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