IBM Intelligent Operations Center: A Breakthrough in Information Technology for Smarter Cities
Ruthie D. Lyle
Smarter Cities Technical Strategy
A smarter city is one that makes optimal use of all the interconnected information available to better understand and control operations and to optimize the use of limited resources. In support of this vision IBM has established an Intelligent Operations Center that enables the optimization of critical information stored in disparate systems across multiple departments for the benefit of the city’s population, economy, and greater ecosystem. This paper provides an overview of the IBM Intelligent Operations Center and briefly presents examples of its real-world application.
THE PRINCIPLE OF “SMART”
IBM’s Smarter Planet Strategy can be described as an articulation of capabilities that are realized by leveraging technological advances and insights. Intelligence is infused into the systems, processes, and infrastructure that make up our world, making it “smarter.” As a result it is possible to make decisions based on evidence instead of habit or opinion, and to anticipate and respond to events rather than simply reacting to them after they have occurred.
The digital and physical worlds are converging such that systems, processes, and infrastructure are becoming intelligent, interconnected, and instrumented. Embedded instrumentation such as actuators, programmable logic controllers, and distributed intelligent sensors are in everything from traditional infrastructure such as bridges and pipelines to personal devices such as smart phones, appliances, and even living organisms such as agriculture, livestock, and human beings.1
A city can be thought of as a complex system of systems with dynamic interconnections and interdependencies across individual systems or domains. Interdependency is inherent in complex systems. Health care, for example, can be dependent on domains such as transportation, environment, and agriculture; green transportation options for walking and biking in a city can enhance citizens’ health, as can decreased emissions, better air quality, and improvements in the quality of drinking water and food.
Cities all over the world are in a state of unprecedented growth, especially in emerging nations, placing a huge strain on the underlying processes and systems that support them. Unbridled consumption of energy, increases in emissions of greenhouse gases, and the unavailability of drinking water are examples of the challenges that impair quality of life. There is thus a tremendous mandate for positive change.
What if cities could achieve effective and efficient operations by using information that is, in some cases, already available and applying insights based on this information?
CITY OPERATIONS AND MANAGEMENT SOLUTIONS
Critical information in a city is typically stored in multiple disparate systems across multiple disconnected departments. A fundamental change is needed for a city to become effective and efficient by using available critical information to become “smarter.” The IBM Intelligent Operations Center (IOC) for Smart Cities is designed to enable this fundamental change.
IOC enables city leaders, managers, and planners to leverage information across all city agencies and departments, anticipate problems and mini-
1 “IBM Offers Smarter City Assessment Tool to Help Cities Prepare for Challenges and Opportunities of Unprecedented Urbanization,” June 24, 2009, available at www.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressureless/27791.wss.
mize the impact of disruption to services and operations, and coordinate cross-agency resources to respond to both real-time and anticipated issues. This approach for managing the city creates a fully integrated and interconnected holistic perspective as shown in Figure 1. Among the features of this system are gateways connecting IOC to various sources of data in the city (e.g., traffic and public safety), a visual interface between IOC and its operators, and bidirectional communication and interaction with citizens. Finally, analytic computational capabilities enable customization of solutions.
In terms of usability, the IOC provides an enhanced visual user interface that can be customized based on operator role. The interface makes it possible to
• bring together different data sources to provide a comprehensive perspective,
• present easily consumable critical information,
• display summarized data that can be analyzed to give insight, and
• support real-time workflow and alerts.
FIGURE 1 IBM Smarter Cities Cross-Domain Operations Center. KPI = key performance indicator.
FIGURE 2 IBM Intelligent Operations Center User Interface
Figure 2 shows IOC being engaged by various operators. Wall monitors show multiple sources and types of information such as weather forecast data and traffic flow data. The interface can be thought of as a visual control center with multiple dashboard views available depending on the role of the user.
USING IOC TO ADDRESS REAL-WORLD ISSUES
IOC-based solutions are amenable to private- as well as public-sector application (Figure 3). Of particular interest and relevance are large sports stadiums, which have many of the same issues as a typical city. Following is a summary of two examples, Smarter Cities and Smarter Stadiums.
Smarter City Implementation
Rio de Janeiro is the second largest city in Brazil and the third largest metropolitan area in South America. In April 2010, faced with what is believed to be the worst flood in its history, the city leaders scrambled to leverage available resources in response. At their request, IBM helped to implement IOC together with IBM’s Deep Thunder weather monitoring, creating a much smarter city with diverse “smart” capabilities. Initially the focus was on preventing death from annual flooding, but with positive political will the solution expanded to enable monitoring of multiple emergency situations.
Smarter Stadium Implementation
At the request of the Miami Dolphins football team, IBM, using the IOC, helped to transform the Sun Life Stadium into an entertainment destination
FIGURE 3 Types of IBM Intelligent Operations Center Uses
for fans. The stadium’s mission is to become nationally and internationally recognized as the premier sports and entertainment center in the Americas. During games and other live events the stadium becomes a vibrant “mini city.” The customized IOC solution enables information to be managed across all stadium assets and departments to facilitate data-driven decision making, anticipate problems to minimize the impact of disruption to stadium operations, and coordinate resources to respond to issues rapidly and efficiently, all of which helps to ensure the best fan experience possible.
The principle of “smart” is fundamentally about recognizing the interconnectivity and interdependency of a complex system and applying technology to gain insight and formulate decisions. Smarter Cities efforts are about using information more intelligently to make better predictions and decisions that can improve both safety and quality of life. IBM’s Intelligent Operations Center provides the tools to analyze and act on that information.