This morning at Web 2.0, David Barnes, program director of emerging technologies of IBM, spoke about the company’s vision of smarter cities and a smarter planet. It’s a more literal notion of “big data,” one that involves sensors everywhere to measure the living, breathing planet. Most Web 2.0 presenters have talked about user data from Web services. This is about the whole planet’s user data.
This is the Web in a sense, but it’s not about personal computers. IBM wants to build a Web of sensors producing massive amounts of big data for governments, health care providers, first responders and businesses. It wants to measure the weather, the sewers, the vehicles, the buildings and the people. Barnes offered five bullet points about how IBM thinks big data will change the world around us in the next five years.
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1. Cities Will Have A Healthier Immune System
We’re moving into cities at an unprecedented rate, and the immune system is at risk. Crowded cities are hotbeds of infectious diseases. Sensors will help health care providers, businesses, schools and governments prepare for health crises in advance.
2. City Buildings Will Sense And Respond Like Living Organisms
Buildings have lots of systems – heating, cooling, electricity, plumbing, et cetera – but they don’t all work together. Better data could enable management of these systems in an integrated way, increasing efficiency, reducing waste and decreasing impact on the climate and environment.
3. Cars and City Buses Will Run On Empty
A smarter electric grid will be able to more efficiently manage power delivery to electric vehicles, but that’s only part of the benefit. Vehicles generate electricity through kinetic energy that can be returned to the grid. IBM has partnered with the Danish EDISON Research Consortium to create a smarter grid to power transportation.
4. Smarter Systems Will Quench Cities’ Thirst For Water And Save Energy
Barnes says big data can help manage the mounting global water crisis. He says that one in three city dwellers doesn’t have access to clean water. IBM is working on a sewer system that can monitor the water for impurities and help governments mitigate risks.
5. Cities Will Be Able To Respond To Crises – Even Before Receiving An Emergency Call
Sensors will be able to detect little problems, like blocked sewer lines, and combine them with other data, like impending rain and nearby trucking routes, to alert officials to a crisis before it arises. IBM’s vision of big data will create a platform for governments and first-responders to benefit from these data and connect the dots before there’s already an emergency underway.
Check out the Web 2.0 schedule and watch the events live here.