I attended IBM’s Pulse conference last week and the big surprise for me was the amount of attention being paid to Smarter Buildings and Smarter Cities. With 600+ sessions over six parallel tracks it is only to be expected that there be some Smarter Building content but at this event Smarter Buildings and Smarter Cities were mentioned in most of the keynotes. The Smarter Buildings market has obviously been identified by IBM as one to chase.
IBM also timed two related press releases to coincide with the event – in the first IBM talk about how they worked with McMaster University to improve the energy supply and use in its 60 campus-wide buildings and a university hospital. In the second announcement IBM released the names of several cities it is working with on Smarter Cities initiatives (Washington D.C., Wilmington, N.C. and Waterloo, Ontario).
Smarter Buildings are obviously a big play what with buildings being responsible for anything up to 40% of the world?s energy use, and approximately 33% of the world?s greenhouse gas emissions – and then there is the market size to consider – every building on the planet potentially.
Buildings are complex animals and they are not exactly dumb today – so how do we go about making them smarter? Most buildings have many disparate data sources (lights, heating, aircon, running equipment, doors, lifts, etc.). Where the likes of IBM can help is in pulling all this information together into a single window, and allowing building managers to view the information in context. IBM then layers its analytics on top of the information to show trends in energy use, highlight problems, as well as helping forecast and optimise energy consumption.
Similarly, but on an even bigger scale, IBM is helping cities manage their systems. Everything from traffic congestion and lighting optimisation, right the way through to water use optimisation and first responder call outs can be managed electronically right now. Again these systems have lots of disparate data – but it is in consolidating this data that IBM excels. Right now they are working with cities on individual projects around things like water use and traffic but look out for announcements soon from IBM on a product for the management of entire cities. That’ll be one to get really excited about!
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Photo credit Tom Raftery