Speaking in London, IBM CEO Sam Palmisano spoke about the successes in the company's Smarter Planet initiative, which involves the increased intelligence in digital devices and using the data collected to improve everyday life. He touched on the benefits to everything from traffic congestion to power consumption, and also noted concerns around security and privacy when talking about the collection of vast amounts of data on people.
Just over a year after introducing his company's Smarter Planet strategy,
Sam Palmisano, IBM's chairman, president and
CEO, is pitching the success-and concerns-of
Speaking to business and civic leaders Jan. 12 at the Chatham House in London,
Palmisano cited successes of the Smarter
, from reduced traffic congestion in some cities to more
efficient health care to a decrease in power consumption by households that use
smart metering technology.
At the same time, he noted the concerns that arise over privacy and security
when mountains of data are collected and analyzed. Pointing to public cameras
in cities like Chicago and London
that are used by police and emergency medical professionals, Palmisano said
having those cameras running around the clock can cause some uneasiness.
"Some citizens have expressed discomfort at living in ... not a safer society,
but a -surveillance society,'" he said.
However, the successes in the Smarter Planet initiative can't be overlooked,
The strategy is built around the idea that more and more digital devices are
not only collecting data on everything from power consumption to water usage to
traffic, but they're being found in such diverse places as hospitals, banks and
city streets. In addition, the computing power and software capabilities can
now take that data and analyze it, giving users the intelligence to act
proactively in ways that help reduce cost and waste, he said.
It's also going to be increasingly important as the amount of data flowing
over the Internet increases, to more than half a zettabyte-or 1 trillion
gigabytes-over the next three years. The key will be to take that data and turn
it into intelligence that can then be acted upon, he said.
"As I said, all this data is far more real-time than ever before," Palmisano
said. "Most of us today, as leaders and as individuals, make decisions based on
information that is backward-looking and limited in scope. That's the best we
had, but that is quickly changing. ... We now have the capability, with advanced
software analytic tools, to extract value from data-to see the patterns, the
correlations and the outliers. Sophisticated mathematical models are
helping us begin to anticipate, forecast and even predict changes in our
systems. That's the promise of a smarter planet."
The benefits can be seen already, he said, ticking off a list of savings
achieved through the use of smarter technologies: $15 million saved yearly by
cities that use traffic congestion solutions, operational efficiency up 10
percent in hospitals and health clinics in Spain that use smart technology, and
a 15 percent drop in the amount of power used by households with smart metering
devices installed as part of larger smart
Palmisano noted the interest worldwide in such intelligence in technology
devices-IBM executives have been in more
than 50 countries pitching the strategy, and have attracted almost 2,000 civic
leaders to 100 presentations on the subject of smart cities. In addition, IBM
has built more than 1,200 smarter solutions.
In dealing with the concerns over security and privacy, Palmisano said IBM
has been working to build coalitions to deal with the issues. For example, the
company is working with Security and Defense Agenda, a Brussels-based think
tank, to sponsor what they're call SecurityJam, which will take place in
February and will bring together thousands of experts, government officials and
organizations to talk about threats to international threats and security.
Recommendations from the event will be forwarded to the European Union and NATO
The idea of smarter technology makes more sense now given the difficult
economic times, Palmisano said.
"The world economy has stabilized somewhat, although significant challenges
remain," he said. "Stimulus programs are making an impact, but they cannot
and should not last forever. In fact, for the foreseeable future, we will be
faced with addressing many pressing global issues with less, rather than more,
"Indeed, applying smarter technologies to drive cost out of our legacy
systems and institutions-doing more with less-will be critical to our near-term
and long-term economic prospects."
And the pitch for IBM officials is that
their products and services-from hardware systems to such software portfolios
as Tivoli and Maximo
best suited for this smarter world, though other vendors also are pushing the
idea of greater intelligence in their offerings. For example, Cisco Systems is
aggressively pursuing smart grid projects.