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IBM Steps Up Pace and Power of Software for Smarter Cities

<p>More than 7,000 IT, building, infrastructure and other professionals flocked to IBM's annual Pulse conference in Las Vegas to hear about the company's latest solutions for making the built environment smarter, more efficient and better connected.</p>

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.

IBM Real-Time Asset Locator for Healthcare. The average hospital misplaces or loses as much as 20 percent of its high-value medical equipment each year, says  IBM, citing industry experts. The company's new software for the healthcare industry helps medical facilities prevent such losses by tracking the location, use and maintenance of clinical, biomedical and other costly equipment to ensure the devices are available when needed and in good working order. The product also can help track patient and staff whereabouts in a facility. Integrated with IBM's Maximo Asset Management software, the solution for healthcare can be facilities management duties such as ordering or scheduling the cleaning and maintenance of patients' rooms.

IBM Smarter Buildings Software. Available to clients in open beta release, the solution provides real-time monitoring and analysis, facilities and space management, and advanced dashboards to help building professionals and owners improve management and performance of their properties. The solution includes a feature from IBM business partner Esri, an expert in mapping and geographic information software, that helps building operators "see" their facilities. The feature provides bird's-eye to drill-down views of properties and the mechanical, plumbing, heating and other systems within and beneath structures so that operators can visualize trouble spots and other areas needing work to improve building performance. IBM estimates the software can help cut energy use by as much as 40 percent.

Several of the solutions devised by IBM, some of them in collaboration with business partners, also were showcased at Pulse2011, including:

New Smarter Cities projects involving the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority of Wilmington, N.C, and the city of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, which both use IBM's smarter water solution, IBM Maximo software and Esri's mapping and geographic information software to manage their water and wastewater systems. IBM also said the Washington, D.C., Water and Sewer Authority expects a 20 percent increase in effective completion of work orders and a 20 percent cut in fuel consumption as a result of participation in IBM's First-of-a-Kind smarter water system project, which is now in its second year.

A First-of-a- Kind project in collaboration with McMaster University in Canada that will produce new technology for identifying energy savings and cutting greenhouse gas emissions through advanced assessment, modeling and forecasting of energy consumption by the university's 60 campus buildings and hospital.

Working with Alcatel-Lucent to help Switzerland's national rail system, the Schweizerische Bundesbahnen, detect potential problem areas and improve them to prevent service disruptions along the railways that transport 900,000 people and more than 220,000 tons of cargo daily. The rail system, which uses IBM Tivoli Netcool and other software in the Tivoli family, says it can locate and repair more than 50 percent of the problems that can delay trains before the situation becomes serious enough to cause a disruption.

More than 7,000 people are attending IBM's Pulse2011, 30 percent more than last year. Further coverage of the event is available on IBM also provides video and other recaps of its presentations on its website.

Images courtesy of IBM.

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