IBM Hears Convenient Truths From Al Gore

IBM has launched a new phase of its Smarter Planet strategy – a renewed focus on smarter buildings, and former Vice President Al Gore was on hand to help

IBM has launched a new phase of its Smarter Planet strategy—a renewed focus on smarter buildings, and former Vice President Al Gore was on hand to help.

At the IBM Pulse 2010 conference of Tivoli software users here Feb. 22, IBM announced new partners and customers that are creating smarter buildings, offices, and urban infrastructure. As part of the event’s opening keynote, Gore helped to set the tone for the news while spreading his own personal view of the environment, which played right into IBM’s Smarter Planet strategy. Indeed, Gore even said the Smarter Planet play “feels right” to him.

Of course, Gore was not on hand to endorse IBM’s technology or strategy. Ironically, he was in town on the same day that his former White House boss, President Bill Clinton, was in town. While Gore spent the morning at the MGM Grand speaking to the IBM faithful, Clinton spent the evening at Caesar’s Palace talking about the challenges facing America both at home and abroad.

Meanwhile, during an often funny and inspiring speech, Gore stayed on point with his message on the challenges to the climate and what can be done to overcome the issues. “We are in the presence of one of the greatest opportunities in the history of business to become much more efficient and eliminate waste, pollution, and losses all at the same time,” he said, totally speaking IBM’s language.

The other big Al in the joint, IBM’s Al Zollar, general manager of the IBM Tivoli business unit, said that with intelligence embedded into the physical assets of an organisation via sensors and other technology, IBM is helping clients create a command center to manage not only their data centre and IT design, but also the physical assets as diverse as water mains, office equipment, door locks, printers, heating systems and fire hydrants.

Indeed, IBM official after official touted that IBM’s expertise in systems management, analytics and sensors is unmatched for bridging the physical and digital worlds and creating new intelligent infrastructures critical for buildings to operate more efficiently.

Something needs to be done, IBM officials said. For instance, buildings account for 80 percent of New York City’s carbon emissions each year, and buildings emit more emissions into the environment than cars do, said Rich Lechner, vice president of energy and environment for IBM.

Moreover, a smarter building can quickly sense and respond at every system level possible. By joining its software, research and services expertise together with industry-leading partners, IBM is helping clients:

– Manage energy use by monitoring and analyzing heat, air conditioning and power consumption so that they can lower costs and decrease emissions;

– Identify security breaches;

– Maintain equipment proactively and even predictively, preventing breakdowns and ensuring that critical assets such as fire systems, manufacturing equipment, HVAC systems, etc., will work when they’re needed; – Locate assets across facilities including tools, equipment and machinery; and

– Manage printing costs and usage in offices.

“Smarter buildings are key to the economic and environmental sustainability of urban environments,” Lechner said in a statement. “Real-time infrastructure data coupled with analytics can enable better economic decisions and environmental outcomes. Together with an array of partners, we are delivering this value to clients today.”

IBM is working with companies like Johnson Controls and Ricoh to make buildings smarter. Johnson Controls is working with IBM to optimise energy usage and improve security and comfort for clients in more than 150 countries. The new smart building solution will help clients improve asset performance, sustainability, productivity and safety across buildings and portfolios of buildings

Ricoh is working with IBM on an advanced device and printing management system that infuses office devices with real-time tracking and monitoring to help firms significantly reduce their print-related costs, improve service and cut back on carbon footprints. Gartner estimates that organisations that manage their fleets of printers, copiers and fax machines can save between 10 and 30 percent of their print costs.

IBM also announced new customers using IBM technology to create smarter buildings at world-class facilities that require utmost precision and maintenance:

– Galveston National Laboratories, one of two National Institutes of Health-funded bio-containment laboratories in the United States, is using IBM software to ensure the proper function and maintenance of all equipment within its facility.  This helps ensure biomedical equipment like air-flow handlers, decontaminating showers, and door seals and locks are working properly to assure safe and secure operations.

– The Tennessee Valley Authority, the largest public power company in the United States, is using IBM software to manage and maintain IT and physical assets across its power facilities, including fossil, hydro, nuclear and wind energy.

In other areas, IBM also is applying its IBM Research capabilities to deliver predictive and spatial analysis for smarter buildings, critical for campuses, building complexes, factories and cities. IBM Maximo software gives clients the ability to visualize and manage their assets within their building walls and beyond a city’s limits, and act on critical data about the status of their company, city, utility or building’s resources. IBM Global Business Services also offers a range of smarter buildings services including solution implementation and integration services.

In 2009, IBM created an industry alliance called the Green Sigma Coalition with companies specializing in metering, monitoring, automation, data communications and software to provide smart solutions for energy, water, waste and greenhouse gas management.  The coalition members are working with IBM to integrate their products and services with IBM’s Green Sigma solution.

IBM also is adding smarter buildings solutions to its own operations. For example, IBM is implementing smarter building analytics through Green Sigma. Anchored on IBM Tivoli and Maximo software, this solution immediately alerts site operations teams when mechanical systems are not performing to a desired specification, which has led to higher building reliability and faster response times that drive energy savings. IBM said its intent is to implement these processes across internal operations worldwide.