IBM unleashes new tools to accelerate data-driven cities

May 29, 2014 by Holli Haswell

IBM today announced that the cities of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Montpellier, France, are working with IBM to make data-driven decisions to rapidly transform the way they provide water, transportation and emergency management.

These and other cities around the world are increasingly using data to make better decisions and allocate resources to sense and respond to challenges in city infrastructure. From improving traffic management, responding rapidly to incidents, using effective communication channels with citizens and ensuring sustainable natural resources, data and analytics are providing new insight to create more effective cities. As a result of helping create thousands of Smarter Cities, IBM has isolated the most pressing challenges and is bringing together a new way to help municipalities use Big Data and analytics via the cloud to improve economics and address the strategic issues that are critical to their future.

The availability of three new cloud-based Smarter Cities management centers for transportation, water and emergency management announced today serve as a springboard for development to allow cities to quickly begin to use their own data, as well as open data, to attain new insight into citizen services and improve decision making for city leaders. For citizens, this means improved access to city services, the ability to predict and respond to situations before they impact the daily lives of people, and enabling better feedback to empower citizens.

"For the first time, we have the tools that can be applied broadly across city departments to give us greater flexibility to see reality and turn data into decisions," said Otto Doll, chief information officer, City of Minneapolis. "In any city, an issue may reside in one department, but the answer lies in another. Analytics can enable a city to tell meaningful stories about what is going on in real-time through data."

In Minneapolis, the city is using IBM's cloud-based Smarter Cities technology to make more effective decisions, allocate city resources more efficiently and drive change by ensuring multiple departments are aligned and working together on a single initiative. IBM Intelligent Operations software is also helping the city do pattern discovery, and providing city leaders with metrics to track performance improvement and ensure they are meeting their goals.

In Montpellier, the fastest growing city in France, IBM Intelligent Operations delivered via the cloud serves as the foundation for the city's effort to improve water management, mobility and emergency management. This capability aggregates Montpellier's data sources and provides city leaders the ability to analyze this data in detail. It also allows new insight to be shared across multiple parts of the city, universities and with partner organizations delivering services to the region.

Montpellier is also creating a living laboratory for open innovation in cooperation with the University of Montpellier 1 and University of Montpellier 2, encouraging the development of new technology, urban innovations, new start-up organizations and the exploration of new economic models. These efforts have already resulted in a 10 percent improvement in water yield, and future goals are to reduce flooding by 20 percent and reduce automobile traffic by 10 percent through a partnership with leading French public transportation provider Transdev. Montpellier plans to achieve these goals while keeping up with growing demands on city services.

Transportation, Water and Emergency Management Centers

Built with cities, the three new smarter cities Management Centers for transportation, water and emergency management bring together IBM's vast portfolio of leading Intelligent Operations software, IBM Global Business Services expertise, and IBM's broad analytics capabilities. This provides cities repeatable models for urban development. The solutions are available via the cloud or on premise through a combination of hardware, software, services and preconfigured analytics models for best practices in city management. Rather than complex, customized projects, cities can begin getting insight from their data in a little more than a week.

  • Transportation Management - provides citywide traffic visibility to help alleviate congestion, improve traffic management, optimize road capacity, rapidly respond to incidents and enhance the travel experience by delivering travel advisories to citizens. The solution has been proven to help some cities reduce congestion by 25 percent.
  • Water Management – provides the ability to use analytics and decision support to improve flood protection, water quality and integrated water resource management. It also helps forecast future demands on the water supply and helps city leaders coordinate responses to flood or drought. The solution has been proven to help some cities reduce leaks by 20 percent.
  • Emergency Management - provides geospatial intelligence and analytics to help harness information and data streaming in from multiple sources to provide a central point of command for emergency management. It can provide emergency managers with critical information from first responders, scenario planning to streamline and integrate response to emergencies, and advanced communications for first responders and emergency personnel. Some cities using this solution have reduced response time by 25 percent.

"Cities need a foundation for modernizing their systems and the basis of their technology should be flexible, open and easy to use," said Michael Dixon, general manager, IBM Smarter Cities. "City leaders and citizens will all benefit from this integrated approach, predictive analytics and resulting outcomes that will allow cities to begin to transform in ways that just a decade ago were unimaginable."

The new pre-configured offerings and services signify a strategic shift by IBM to accelerate into the marketplace a new class of Smarter Cities solutions that combine analytics, mobile and social to provide predictive insight and help cities deliver better results by making sense of the massive amounts of Big Data generated every day.

Citizen Engagement Through People for Smarter Cities

IBM also announced today a new digital platform for citizen engagement, People for Smarter Cities,to provide citizens, academia and forward thinkers around the world a place to share ideas and engage in public discussions on how to make cities smarter. To mark the launch of People for Smarter Cities, IBM collaborated with Zooppa, a crowdsourcing community with more than 200,000 members—including filmmakers, influential bloggers, and environmental communities—- to invite citizens from around the world to submit their ideas through video on ways to improve life in their cities. The winning Smarter Cities videos can be viewed at people4smartercities.com

Explore further: Researchers use Twitter to predict crime

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