IBM Makes Cities and Utilities Smarter with New Technologies

by | Sep 21, 2009

IBMcorecitysystemsMoving forward with its strategy for a Smarter Planet, IBM is helping cities and utilities become smarter by providing new technologies and tools to help them better manage their resources, while reducing cost, increasing reliability and lowering energy and water consumption.

A new report from the IBM Institute for Business Value, “A Vision of Smarter Cities,” makes the case that cities must use new technologies to transform their systems to optimize the use of finite resources.

As an example, IBM and the City of Dubuque, Iowa, with a population of 60,000, are collaborating to make Dubuque the first “smarter” sustainable city in the U.S. IBM and Dubuque outlined their plans to develop new “smarter” technologies and implementation strategies to create an international model of sustainability for communities of 200,000 and under, where over 40 percent of the U.S. population resides, said IBM.

Dubuque has made sustainability a priority since 2006, and has identified 11 principles of sustainability to guide the city’s actions and policies. IBM, Dubuque, and other partners will revitalize the city’s systems to become smarter and more efficient in order to meet the city’s vision for sustainability.

The first phase of the smart city partnership includes two projects that focus on energy consumption and water management, in order to reduce costs and the overall carbon footprint. IBM will build a platform for real-time integrated sustainability monitoring to provide the city with an integrated view of its energy management, including energy consumed by the electric grid, water system, and general city services.

IBM’s technology will interface with the city’s water systems to provide real-time visibility into its water consumption. IBM Research will also build new service systems integration, data management, and analytic technologies that will create new insights for consumers and city policymakers.

IBM also opened a new technology services delivery center in downtown Dubuque, Iowa, which will employ up to 1,300 people by the end of 2010.

IBM, with business partner Consert, also announced the completion of installations for a smart-grid pilot project in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Through a partnership with the Fayetteville Public Works Commission (FPWC), the six-month pilot has helped nearly 100 local businesses and residents achieve up to a 40 percent energy savings.

The pilot aimed to reduce “ghost” consumption on devices such as air conditioners and water heaters that draw energy when no one is home to use them. Click here for a demonstration of the Consert and IBM technology.

Real-time energy monitoring and modifications can help the typical consumer save, on average, 15 percent or more of their normal energy use with no change in comfort or lifestyle, according to IBM. In addition, the FPWC now can calculate carbon savings at the device level, rather than at the point of generation.

To make it easier for utility companies to operate more efficiently and to speed up the development of their smart utility programs, IBM has developed a new standards-based software platform.

The new IBM Solution Architecture for Energy and Utilities Framework (SAFE) is part of the IBM Smarter Planet strategy, which provides a common vision for how utility companies can combine new and existing technologies to improve efficiency, said IBM. This includes adding new green technologies such as emissions monitoring and smart distribution, as well as renewable energy sources such as wind, hydro, solar and biofuels.

IBM said this open platform will help utilities reduce costs to protect their digital distribution networks against hacking and lower customer costs with new tools to manage consumption.

This new framework uses elements of IBM’s entire software portfolio including WebSphere, Tivoli, Rational, Lotus and Information Management products, and offers technologies centered around seven focus areas faced by every utility including asset lifecycle management, informed decision making, business process automation, improved customer experience, security, as well as asset, device and service monitoring and regulatory, risk and compliance management. Click here for more information about IBM’s smart utility services.

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