IBM Steps Up Pace and Power of Software for Smarter Cities

IBM opened its annual Pulse conference this week with a surge of new software with increased monitoring and analytic capabilities to make management of energy and other resources easier and more effective for cities and universities, the buildings in them, the hospitals and water systems that serve them and the railways that connect them.

The company began introducing its latest software and other developments in its Integrated Service Management platform Monday at the Pulse2011 conference in Las Vegas. The Integrated Service Management platform, which has the IBM's Tivoli framework at its core, is a broad array of software products, systems, best practices and expertise whose aim is to optimize the world's infrastructure.

Throughout the Pulse event, which concludes today, IBM also detailed applications of several of the solutions devised by IBM and its business partners.

The "wow-factor" of the first batch of developments, said IBM's Vice President of Industry Solutions and and Smarter Buildings David B. Bartlett, is the extent to which the new solutions can now harness data, analyze and integrate a wealth of data.

The architecture for solutions does not vary much from industry to industry, he said. The challenge and the difference lie in determining the optimal the integration points for each industry application. Finding those sweet spots yields information that helps businesses, cities, utilities and universities answer "the where question" in monitoring and managing facilities, property portfolios and infrastructure, Bartlett said.

Where questions can range from where precisely is a network most vulnerable and where should work crews be sent to provide the most effective maintenance or emergency services, to where exactly is the system failure, or simply where did a critical piece of equipment go?

"Earlier solutions have answered the what and why questions," Bartlett said. The new solutions help customers "trace the root of a problem and help them see it in spatial context."

The new products the include:

IBM Tivoli Netcool/OMNIbus. The powerful analytics software is designed to be scaled to complex networks, such as transportation or telecommunications lines, and make predictive monitoring and event management possible across those systems, regardless of their size and location. IBM likens the product to a vast nervous system because it helps acquire, relay, process and analyze data swiftly and enables its users to locate issues and address them before they become major disruptions. The software also is designed to help users respond quickly when problems occur.

IBM Intelligent Metering Network Management. With more than 300 million smart meters for energy, water and gas expected to be in use globally within a few years, the software is designed to help utilities better control and automate growing smart meter networks. By doing so, the software helps utilities monitor data from the meters, forestall outages and manage customer service more effectively in situations ranging from basic maintenance to emergencies. The software can also function as a boss of bosses by integrating the service management of multiple networks into a single network. IBM is integrating its Intelligent Metering Network Management offering with smart grid communications systems by Trilliant and other business partners for use by utilities.