IBM Helps Cities Get Smarter, Greener

The tech giant has been outlining its vision for making cities more energy efficient at a conference in Berlin

IBM has launched what it calls a Smarter City Assessment Tool designed to help conurbations use technology to improve the efficiency of their infrastructure, avoid wasted energy and reduce carbon emissions.

Announced at IBM’s SmarterCities Forum event in Berlin this week, the tool will allow a city to benchmark the performance of its infrastructure and services against similar sized metropolitan areas around the world and then work out where to make improvements.

“Cities are in the midst of a realignment of power – with greater influence highlighted by greater responsibility,” said Peter Korsten, global leader for the IBM Institute for Business Value. “Aspects of a city’s operations that city managers have previously been unable to measure – and therefore unable to influence – are increasingly being digitised, creating brand new data points. With the greater digitisation of its core systems and the use of advanced analytic capabilities, cities can enhance decision-making and improve urban planning.”

IBM defines a smarter city as one “that makes optimal use of all the interconnected information available today in order to better understand and control its operations and optimise the use of limited resources”.

Also announced at the SmarterCities forum, the city of Rotterdam announced a collaboration with IBM on the design and testing of a monitoring and forecasting system for smarter water and energy management.

According to IBM, the system will collect and analyse real-time data on the rivers, ocean, weather, and more, creating what the company calls the “world’s first Smart Delta City”.

Using an information portal designed by IBM, Rotterdam hopes to be able to better monitor flood and drought threats for example and even changes in water conditions that could harm fish and other aquatic life.

“We are committed to reducing carbon dioxide by 50 percent and reaching a climate adaptive situation while also strengthening our region’s economic condition by 2025,” said Paula Verhoeven, Rotterdam climate office director. “To reach these goals, we have defined a holistic approach to climate change and water management, considering economic and spatial planning factors in the decision-making process. This collaboration is important to help Rotterdam evolve to a Smart Delta City.

In February 2008, IBM opened the Global Center of Excellence for Water Management in the Netherlands. “Governments and companies that don’t understand how climate changes will impact their operations will increasingly find themselves at a disadvantage,” said Sharon Nunes, vice President, Big Green Innovations, IBM. “Over the next few years, the business impact of either too-much or too-little water will be devastating in many parts of the world. The Smart Delta City initiative addresses the need to start thinking and acting in new ways to make our systems more efficient, productive and responsive.”