When it comes to Smarter Cities, IBM is not playing games. However, the systems giant has created what it calls a "serious game" to help individuals recognize the importance of solving problems with the environment, as well as city infrastructure and logistics.
LAS VEGAS-When it comes to
Smarter Cities, IBM is not playing games.
However, the systems giant has created what it calls a "serious game"
to help individuals recognize the importance of solving problems with the
environment, as well as city infrastructure and logistics.
IBM will release details of its new game,
CityOne, on May 4 at the IBM Impact 2010
conference here. Impact is IBM's annual
event geared toward service-oriented architecture (SOA) based solutions. Based
on decades of experience in solving business challenges in creative ways, IBM
"serious" games are designed to train the workforce of tomorrow. At the Impact
2009 conference, IBM introduced Innov8,
a game that was essentially a business process management (BPM) simulator.
With an estimated 1 million people around the world moving into cities each
week, experts predict the population in the world's cities will double by 2050.
Today, cities consume an estimated 75 percent of the world's energy, emit more
than 80 percent of greenhouse gases and lose as much as 20 percent of their
water supply due to infrastructure leaks. As these urban populations continue
to grow and these metrics increase, civic leaders will face an unprecedented
series of challenges.
For these reasons, IBM projects that
cities must grow smarter, and Big Blue has a plan to help them as part of IBM's
overall Smarter Planet Initiative. City infrastructures that deliver vital
services such as transportation, energy and water must rely on a wealth of new
information and technologies that will allow them to sense and respond
intelligently to the needs of their growing populations, IBM
officials said. With CityOne, IBM is
providing a virtual environment that will help tomorrow's leaders learn how to
apply advances in technology and better understand how these systems work.
IBM's CityOne game will be a no charge, "Sim-style"
game in which players are tasked with guiding the city through a series of
missions involving the energy, water, banking and retail industries. For
example, one mission involves a city where water usage has increased at twice
the rate of the population growth; supplies are becoming strained (and possibly
polluted); the municipality is losing as much as 40 percent of its water supply
through leaky infrastructure; and energy costs are steadily increasing. To
complete this mission, the player would be challenged to institute a water
management system that would include accurate real-time data to make decisions
on delivering the highest water quality in the most economical way, IBM
Players who promote a more customer-centric business model to the banks
represented in their city will discover how mobile payments, dynamic invoicing
and micro-lending can impact business goals. In all of the missions represented
in the game, the player will need to determine the best way to invest to meet
the financial, environmental and sociological goals of the city's industries
while balancing their budgets and the needs of the citizenry. In parallel,
players will learn how the components of service reuse, process management,
cloud and collaborative technologies make business models more agile, IBM
"Serious games allow professionals to inherently comprehend system
interactions, and accurately model the potential business outcomes that can
result, in a way that no other medium can do," said Nancy Pearson, IBM
vice president of SOA, BPM and WebSphere, in a statement. "CityOne will
simulate the challenges faced in a variety of industries so that businesses can
explore a variety of solutions and explore the business impact before
"Enterprises are increasingly adopting Web 2.0 collaboration tools to
appeal to a new generation entering the workforce that grew up immersed in
social media technologies," said Lisa Rowan, director of HR, Learning and
Talent Strategies at IDC, also in a
statement. "Training will need to follow suit by incorporating interactivity
and gaming to be relevant to this new workforce."
In addition to CityOne and Innov8, IBM
has over the years released a number of games, including RoboCode and PowerUp,
that are used by schools, businesses, museums and conferences.
Additionally, IBM has conducted an extensive
study of massive multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs), and the
results have underscored how a rotating leadership model is likely to affect an
enterprise. Indeed, IBM's Innov8 series of
games, which teach the fundamentals of BPM using a 3D environment, is now being
used by more than 1,000 universities worldwide and is offered for free to
schools via IBM's Academic Initiative.
Mark McGibbon, a professor of IT and business at a leading university, has
used Innov8 in three of his classes: Process Improvement, Software Acquisition,
and Analytics and Simulation.
"Using serious games like Innov8 to teach something as slippery as business
process management has really helped my students visualize directly the impact of
these systems on a business," said McGibbon, in a statement. "We are greatly
looking forward to the next IBM game."
Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.