IBM helps the Louvre, USAF and LA schools operate smarter buildings

IBM helps the Louvre, USAF and LA schools operate smarter buildings

The Louvre, the U.S. Air Force and the Los Angeles Unified School District might not seem to have a lot in common -- until you consider their basic needs.

"Each organization possesses a complex infrastructure that uses a lot of energy, is expensive to maintain and has special requirements to be highly reliable, safe and secure," said David Bartlett, IBM's vice president of industry solutions.

Bartlett, also known as the company's building whisperer, told me about IBM's work with Europe's most-visited museum, the military branch and second largest school district in the U.S. -- all of which were announced yesterday at the annual IBM Pulse conference in Las Vegas.

The theme of Pulse 2012 is "Optimizing the World's Infrastructure," and the three projects highlight how the company's Smarter Buildings solutions can be used in diverse settings to increase efficiency of infrastructure in areas ranging from energy consumption to safety.

The Louvre

The more than 200-year-old museum, covering some 650,000 square feet, is home to the Mona Lisa and thousands of other precious pieces of art. Repair and maintenance specialists make more than 65,000 repair and maintenance visits to the museum a year to keep temperature, humidity, air quality and other systems functioning properly. Until the museum enlisted IBM, all the work was handled on paper.

The Louvre decided to use IBM software to manage maintenance, repairs and related work for the entire facility in a single database that lets users see which galleries and rooms are in use, where work is needed and how to get the work done in the most efficient way, Bartlett said. The software, which unites existing equipment management systems at the museum, also helps museum managers pinpoint potential trouble spots so they can address an issue before it develops into a full-blown problem.

The Air Force

The U.S. Air Force Office of the Civil Engineer is using IBM Tririga software to boost energy efficiency and automate management of its entire portfolio of physical infrastructure, which includes the infrastructure for buildings, vehicles, runways and more.

The portfolio spans 626 million square feet of real estate, over 100 million square yards of airfield pavement and 10 million acres of land at 170 locations around the world that are used by members of the service in active duty, the reserve and the Air National Guard. The sites are much like small cities and the technology coordinates the facility management within each location as well as across the portfolio.

LA Schools

Serving 700,000 students, the Los Angeles Unified School District is the largest in California and second largest nationwide after the New York City Department of Education. The district has more than 14,000 buildings in an area of 710 square miles and typically received more than 300,000 requests for maintenance service a year. It was hard to sort them out and often seemed that it took as much time to locate and report a problem as it did to fix it.

Using a crowdsourcing solution devised by IBM and its business partners CitySourced and Esri, the district can now hone in on the areas that need repairs with help from teachers, students and staff. They can take a picture with their cell phones and send the image along with a text to the district. The picture shows what the problem is and the app tells the district where the problem is.

Uniting Factors

"The common element," Bartlett said, "is that you're taking a massive amount of data, looking at it end to end and bringing it together at one central spot. What's important is to have a holistic view of the entire operation."

Collecting and analyzing of massive amounts of data are IBM's forte and lie at the core of the company's Smarter Buildings program and its broader Smarter Planet initiative -- IBM's vision of a highly instrumented, intelligent and interconnected world. GreenBiz Group calls this concept VERGE.

The three projects unveiled Monday showcase IBM's analytic might as well as another important strength: the company's ability to scale. That factor is key to IBM's ambition to be the go-to company for solutions that serve entire cities.

Or as Bartlett put it, "IBM can pull together data to provide the big picture like no other company and to really achieve this at city-level capacity, you have to be able to scale."

David Bartlett, who talked about the importance of smarter buildings at GreenBiz forums in Chicago and Washington, D.C., last year, wiil participate in a keynote panel, "Capitalizing on Convergence," at GreenBiz Group's VERGE DC conference next week.

Top photo of the Louvre Museum CC licensed by Alvesgaspar via Wikimedia Commons. Photo of the Mona Lisa also via Wikimedia Commons. Other photographs courtesy of IBM.