IBM to Launch Smart Infrastructure Lab at CMU

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2010-07-29

IBM to Launch Smart Infrastructure Lab at CMU

IBM and Carnegie Mellon University July 29 announced their intent to create an IBM Smarter Infrastructure Lab at CMU "to undertake research and create technologies to help cities, governments and industries worldwide develop smarter infrastructures."

The IBM statement continued, "The new lab is part of the Pennsylvania Smarter Infrastructure Incubator (PSII) and will be located within the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering on the CMU campus in Pittsburgh, Pa."

Plans are for the lab to be operational in the fall of 2010, Wayne Balta, vice president of corporate environmental affairs and product safety at IBM, said in an interview with eWEEK.

IBM said:

"The IBM Smarter Infrastructure Lab at Carnegie Mellon University will develop technologies that are consistent with IBM's Smarter Planet initiative, IBM's offerings in Business Analytics and Optimization, and CMU's work within its Center for Sensed Critical Infrastructure Research. The new lab will be a focal point and catalyst for collaboration with like-minded research colleagues from IBM Research and across CMU including their engineering, architecture, public policy and business schools. It will also be an important resource at Carnegie Mellon University to educate and train future scientists and engineers to build smarter cities."

"The lab is intended to drive innovation that can make the world's physical infrastructure smarter by instrumenting it," Balta said. "As we collectively figure out ways to deploy sensors or meters on physical infrastructure-such as pipelines, railways, and bridges-we're going to have all that instrumented. And all that data will come back through a common place. Then we'll be able to look through that data, and look for patterns and see things that are problem areas before a problem occurs. And if we can find ways to foresee that problem we can avoid or prevent things like water main breaks."

IBM's statement continued:

"At the lab, researchers will collect and analyze massive amounts of data about the physical condition and energy efficiency of buildings, water pipelines and other infrastructure on which governments, businesses and societies depend. One of the research initiatives the lab will undertake is to explore physical infrastructures with innovative digital sensor networks that will produce large amounts of new data that will be acquired in real time and integrated with advanced analytical tools. Such analysis will be directed to detect patterns, understand exposure to risks, and help predict outcomes of management and operational decisions with greater certainty.

"At Carnegie Mellon, we've been working for a number of years on interdisciplinary research to help better manage critical infrastructure using advanced technologies. Our goal has been to deploy a variety of sensors to collect significant amounts of new data that can be analyzed and turned into actionable information so that people who build, maintain or manage infrastructure can do so in a more efficient and cost-effective manner," said James H. Garrett, Jr., the Thomas Lord professor and chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. "IBM's much appreciated support will help establish a new, state-of-the-art lab where we will be able to showcase research and technology development on our Pittsburgh campus. In addition to supporting us with technology and analytical tools, our collaboration with IBM will also enable highly valuable interactions with IBM researchers worldwide in this domain."

Government agencies at the municipal, city, state and federal level along with businesses from diverse industry sectors will be invited to partner with the lab. Some of these partners will make data from their diverse infrastructures available to the lab while others may provide complementary technologies or support additional research activity. The lab will also be integrated with a new Collaboration and Distance Learning Center to be located in CMU's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, where leaders can meet-either physically or virtually-to learn how smarter infrastructures can make them more competitive".

"Making the infrastructure of our cities, communities, and industries more instrumented, interconnected and intelligent can make it more sustainable from both an economic and an environmental perspective," Balta said in a statement. "With Carnegie Mellon University's renowned reputation in engineering and IBM's leadership regarding a Smarter Planet and business analytics, this new lab can drive innovation and develop new technologies to help leaders worldwide optimize their use of finite resources."

IBM Partners with Tridium


Meanwhile, in related news, IBM on July 28 announced it plans to "work with Tridium ... to develop new technology and solutions that will allow companies to maximize efficiency of their new and existing buildings and facilities while keeping an eye on profits."

IBM's statement continued:

"Tridium, part of Honeywell's Automation and Control Solutions group, is a global provider of software and embedded hardware that allows for integration and control of the numerous devices, systems and networks found in commercial buildings and retail structures.

Tridium's Niagara and Sedona software enable the integration and control of virtually every system and device in any facility from HVAC equipment, lighting and generators to gas pumps, ovens, and medical devices. The companies plan to integrate IBM Tivoli Monitoring for Energy Management and IBM Maximo Asset Management enterprise software with Niagara and Sedona to create secure, Internet-enabled networks that will allow for new levels of energy management, integrate thousands of disparate systems and devices, and analyze vast streams of real-time data.

Applying IBM's advanced software will let managers know if their buildings and the systems inside are operating at maximum performance and profitability, a major concern in many industries, including retail."

 "Our work to create smarter buildings will be enhanced by Tridium technology that allow many of the systems that constitute a building-heat, water, sewage and electricity-to be controlled and automated," David Bartlett, vice president of industry solutions at IBM Software Group, said in a statement. "Together we'll be able to give clients greater intelligence and control of their buildings and of the physical world."

"Our technologies embrace many communications methods in order to support the integration of these disparate systems and devices, facilitating better control and awareness," Steve Fey, president of Tridium, said in a statement. "Our focus has always been on the integration and interoperability of all of these systems, whether wired or wireless. Now, with IBM, we can deliver an end-to-end IP-based infrastructure for any type of building and deliver real-time information, asset intelligence and analysis from virtually every device and sensor in the network for decision support around the globe."

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