IBM Makes Cities Smarter with Location-Based Analytics

At its Pulse 2011 conference, IBM announces contracts with four major cities to use the company location-based analytics to repair eroding infrastructure as part of IBM's Smarter Cities initiative.

LAS VEGAS-At its Pulse 2011 conference here, IBM is slated to announce that it is working with cities around the world to help them gain new efficiencies by visualizing and analyzing their physical and digital assets in real time.

Indeed, as part of its Smarter Cities initiative, IBM is announcing smarter cities projects in Cape Fear, N.C., and Waterloo, Ontario, among other cities, as well as new results from an IBM First-of-a-Kind Research project in Washington, D.C.

Increasingly, cities are leveraging the power of location to bring efficiency to their operations and improve the customer experience, IBM officials said. They are using IBM software to get both a bird's eye view of their city infrastructures-roads, buildings and waterways-as well as insight into their operations underground or on the street-the pipes, wires, streetlights, electrical meters, storm drains and other assets that make up a city's infrastructure. Some cities are using embedded sensors to detect faulty pipes or broken streetlights to automatically generate a work order for maintenance staffs.

"Cities around the world are getting smarter everyday by monitoring and analyzing the data in their streets, pipes and buildings," said David Bartlett, vice president of Industry Solutions at IBM, in a statement. "We see that these real-time analytical technologies are driving a new level of intelligence that helps cities-big or small, new or old-to gain more efficient, sustainable operations."

IBM's Tivoli business unit is leading the way in providing software to drive such initiatives, particularly with its Maximo software. Cities around the globe monitor and map systems using IBM Maximo Spatial software with geospatial information from IBM business partner Esri. For example:

  • With digital history delivered in real time to smartphones, workers in the field can act quickly and efficiently to resolve and even prevent problems by seeing exactly where a water main is and its relationship to other underground infrastructure.

  • IBM analytics can uncover hidden relationships such as pinpointing the cause of recurring issues and pockets of inefficiency-such as one water main that causes expansive seasonal flooding-to prevent issues before they impact service.

  • Repair crews address problems from a spatial perspective such as optimizing the driving route of their service trucks to reduce time on the road, prioritizing critical jobs and arming themselves with the detailed history of infrastructure to speed repairs.