Tag: ibm

IBM and ESB develop IT system for smart electric vehicle charging in Ireland

Electric vehicle charging
In August 2010 I was given the chance to test drive a pre-production model Nissan Leaf in Ireland. I was totally taken with the experience, so it was with a certain amount of delight I read last week that IBM and ESB eCars were collaborating to implement a country-wide smart charging IT system for electric vehicles in Ireland.

ESB Networks has so-far approximately 1,000 electric vehicle public charging points currently available, with a target of installing 1,500 on-street charge points and 30 fast charge points. ESB also have Android and iPhone mobile phone apps to help drivers locate charge points throughout the country.

The IT system being created by IBM and ESB will allow drivers to access, charge and pay for a car charge using an identification card. According to the release:

Electric vehicle parking place

The IBM EV platform will enable EV drivers to select convenient payment options and access all charge-points using one ID card – a process that will aggregate usage costs and simplify billing. This smart charging capability allows consumers to charge anywhere at anytime, regardless of their electricity provider and without the need to carry multiple access cards. Additionally, drivers will also have the option to use a mobile device or browser to locate the nearest charge post, check its availability, and make a reservation if the post is available.

This gives tremendous flexibility and ease of use to drivers of electric vehicles, while also providing valuable data to utilities on energy usage. This usage data will allow better forecasting of demand and help balance the load on the power grid as well as help ESB Networks to monitor the health and status of the charge-points to ensure service reliability.

The changeover to a national fleet of electric vehicles is always going to be a difficult proposition which will take considerable time and faces the familiar chicken and egg issue. However a move like this from ESB and IBM will certainly help reduce the chicken and egg issue somewhat and should contribute to a faster adoption of electric vehicles in Ireland.

Full disclosure – IBM and ESB Ireland are not GreenMonk clients (though in the past IBM has commissioned work from GreenMonk).

Image credits Tom Raftery

(Cross-posted @ GreenMonk: the blog)

(Cross-posted @ GreenMonk: the blog)

SAP’s Sustainability announcements at Sapphire Now


SAP co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe at Sapphire Now 2012

SAP co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe at Sapphire Now 2012

Technology innovation plays a major part in creating a sustainable world tomorrow

So said SAP co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe at this year’s SAP Sapphire Now conference in Orlando. He then went on to predict three major trends in computing for the coming years – according to Jim, in the next five years everything will move to Cloud, everything will be in main memory and everything will be mobile.

This wasn’t just some off-the-cuff remark – these three developments are core to SAP’s product roadmap – even in the Sustainability space.

In the mobile space for example, at Sapphire Now SAP announced a new version of a mobile app for incident management. With this app, workers can now log issues from their mobile device with a photo or video, as well as an audio recording, and send it directly to an incident or safety manager for corrective action. This crowd-sourcing of safety information also has built-in tracking of the reported incident which is hugely empowering for workers who may previously have felt their voice wasn’t heard. And for the companies deploying this solution it leads to a safer work environment and a happier workforce.

This puts me in mind of an initiative IBM rolled out with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) where they enabled students, teachers and staff to report issues like water leaks, broken aircon/heating, exposed cables and so on, by sending text messages and photos through their mobile phones. More please.

Also in the mobile sustainability space, SAP have their Electronic Medical Record app [SilverLight warning] – an app which gives doctors instant access to a patient’s electronic medical records.

In the Cloud space, SAP have made two major recent acquisitions – Successfactors and more recently Ariba at a cost of roughly $7.7bn. This is a clear indicator that while SAP maybe late to the party, it is serious about catching up…

Use open source platforms to find cloud computing’s energy and emissions footprint

 

Dials
Regular GreenMonk readers will be very aware that I am deeply skeptical about claims that Cloud Computing is Green (or even energy efficient). And that I talk about the significant carbon, water and biodiversity effects cloud computing can have.

One of the biggest issues with any claims of Cloud Computing being energy efficient, or Green, is the lack of transparency from the Cloud Computing providers. None of them are publishing any data around the energy consumption, or emissions of their Cloud infrastructure. Without data to back them up, any claims of Cloud computing being efficient are worthless.

Last week, while at the RackSpace EMEA Analyst day, we were given a potted history of OpenStack, RackSpace’s Cloud Computing platform. OpenStack was jointly developed by NASA and RackSpace and they open-sourced it with an Apache License in July 2010.

Anyone can download OpenStack and use it to create and host Cloud Computing solutions. Prominent OpenStack users include NASA, RackSpace (not surprisingly), AT&T, Deutsche Telecom, HP and IBM.

What has this got to do with Cloud Computing and energy efficiency I hear you ask?

Well, it occurred to me, during the analyst day, that because OpenStack is open source, anyone can fork it and write a version with built-in energy and emissions reporting. What would be really cool is, if this functionality, having been written, became a part of the core distribution – then anyone deploying OpenStack, would have this functionality by default…

Can IBM continue to support blatant sexual discrimination?

Ginni Rometty, CEO, IBM
I’ve always admired IBM’s achievements in the diversity and equality arena.

Some of their milestones down through the years include:

  • In 1914, 76 years before the US Disabilities Act, IBM hired its first disabled employee.
  • In 1942 IBM launched a disabled employee training program.
  • In 1943 Ruth Leach Amonette was elected IBM’s first female Vice President.
  • In 1946 IBM hired T.J. Laster, their first black sales representative, 18 years before the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  • In 1953 IBM chairman Thomas Watson issued the company’s first Equal Opportunity Policy letter.
  • And in 2011, IBM announced that Ginni Rometty would take over as President and CEO – the first female CEO in the history of the company.

Consequently, I was stunned to read at the weekend that IBM’s CEO was snubbed by the organisers of the US Open at Augusta simply because she is a woman, and despite this IBM continued to sponsor the event!

A bit of background – the Augusta National Golf Club is a private club, so it can set its own rules. Its rules have been notoriously discriminatory through the years – it didn’t admit black members until 1990, until recently it had a policy requiring all caddies to be black, and it continues to refuse women membership.

The fact that it refuses to allow female membership is now sharply in focus because the club has traditionally invited the CEO’s of the main sponsors of the US Masters to become members. By the end of this year’s tournament, despite IBM’s significant sponsorship, Ms Rometty had not been invited to become a member, because of her gender.

Now Ms Rometty is reportedly not a frequent golfer, so while it may not be a devastating blow to her game, it is a slap in the face that she wasn’t asked to be a member when her predecessors at IBM were. As were the CEO’s of the two other Masters sponsors (AT&T and Exxon Mobil).

IBM’s involvement with the event goes back many years and they are tied into it deeply not just financially but also at a technological level. According to Bloomberg

IBM is featured in the tournament’s TV commercials and runs its website, mobile-phone applications and media-center technology. Palmisano serves on Augusta’s technology tournament committee. He remains IBM’s chairman — a role Rometty is likely also to assume upon his retirement

Augusta may need IBM more than IBM needs the Masters…

IBM based mobile, crowdsourced-reporting application helps schools speed up repairs

Leaking tap
Attending IBM’s Pulse 2012 event this year I was again struck by how much IBM’s Maximo is used in maintenance management applications.

And why do we care about that I hear you say?

Well, keeping machinery properly maintained, and alerting if machines go out of tolerance for certain parameters (energy consumption spikes in refrigeration plant, fuel or oil consumption in engines, even the presence (or absence) or certain chemicals, etc.) is often an early sign that that machine/system is faulty. Sometimes this fault can result in extra consumption of a resource, other times it can be a safety issue. In any case the measurement and alerting can can kick off a pro-active maintenance ticket which may otherwise have been missed.

Correct scheduling of servicing for a lot of machinery is a sustainability win too. If machines are not serviced according to the manufacturers schedule, consumption tends to increase, but properly maintained they are safer, and consume typically less.

I came across an interesting example of this recently with IBM’s announcement of a project to make the US’s 2nd largest school district one of its greenest and most sustainable.

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has 700,000 students, 14,000 buildings spread over 710 square miles in California. It receives more than 300,000 maintenance service requests per year.

How are IBM going to improve it?

They are allowing students, teachers and staff to report issues like water leaks, broken aircon/heating, exposed cables and so on, by sending text messages and photos through their mobile phones. One receipt of the text…

Using Mobile Endpoint Management to prolong smartphone battery life?

Low Battery Warning
Endpoint management is a term I came across relatively recently at a Symantec event – it refers to software used to manage client computers, laptops, and servers in an organisation (the endpoints of the network). Endpoint management software does things like automating the rollout of updates, manages licensing of software and often has a role in energy management of computers (ensuring they are shut down at the end of the day, not consuming resources when not in use). Also, policies can be set to ensure the power management of the machines doesn’t interfere with the installation of any patches.

With the increasing numbers of smartphones and tablets entering the workplace, a new class of enterprise software is appearing, mobile endpoint management. I’ve had discussions with Symantec about this last year and had a demo of IBM’s beta Mobile Endpoint Manager at this year’s IBM Pulse.

The IBM software, while not yet released, is still quite interesting. It has a considerable amount of functionality for securing devices and their data, as well as what IBM are calling micro-vpn – a nifty little bit of coding which allows for the ability to VPN from within an individual app on the mobile device.

One obvious trick that’s being missed though? Energy management for mobile devices.

The one issue that all smart phone owners share is battery life. This is also an issue for organisations which provide smartphones to their staff because many of those employees will charge their phones while at work, increasing the organisations’ energy and carbon footprints. Potentially worse though, is if the battery does run out, the staff member in question is harder to contact and may be cut off from company resources.

How do you, through software, extend the life of a smartphone battery?

Smarter cities – cities of almost any size can now go digital, with all the efficiency gains that brings

City
I attended an IBM Smarter Cities analyst event last week, and it was, not surprisingly, very interesting.

What is the whole rationale behind making cities smarter?

Well, there are a number of factors. For one, the world’s population has doubled in the last 40 years (from 3.5 billion to almost 7 billion). And with the mushrooming population, there is also an increase in urbanisation (in 1800, 3% of the world’s population lived in cities, whereas in 2007 that figured went above 50% for the first time).

The surging numbers of people living in cities are increasing demands on municipalities for services like water, energy, transportation, housing, healthcare and public safety. This is happening at a time of constrained resources and ageing infrastructures for many existing cities.

At the IBM Smarter Cities event, IBM showcased both some of the technologies they are providing to cities and also case studies of some of the solutions they have rolled out.

Intelligent Operations Center

The core of IBM’s offerings is its Intelligent Operations Center (IOC) – this is a application capable of taking information from virtually any IT system a city may have (water management, video surveillance, first responder systems, traffic management, etc.), combining this data and using it to kick off workflows, to trigger alerts, to display on dashboards and/or for data export.

The fact that the system can take in inputs from such a wide variety of systems is, in large part due to its use of the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) – an XML-based protocol for exchanging alerts between systems. From the CAP Wikipedia entry:

Alerts from the United States Geological Survey, the Department of Homeland Security, NOAA and the California Office of Emergency Services can all be received in the same format, by the same application. That application can, for example, sound different alarms based on the information received.

The IOC’s flexibility when it comes to data inputs ensures it can take in information from almost any IT system…

IBM’s Smarter Buildings and Smarter Cities announcements

Smart buildings are a topic I’m interested in and so I devote significant coverage to them on this blog. One of the reasons for that is that, for example, in the US alone, buildings are responsible for about 70% of the energy consumption and for about 40% of the greenhouse gases emitted and by 2025, buildings worldwide will become the largest consumer of global energy — more than transportation and the industrial sectors combined. Smarter buildings can help owners and operators cut energy use by as much as 40 percent and cut maintenance costs by 10 to 30 percent, according to IBM.

So why am I writing about Smarter Buildings again now?

Well, last week IBM launched its Intelligent Building Management software and refers to it as IBM’s “first advanced analytics software solution for Smarter Buildings”. To showcase its potential, IBM referenced three projects using the software:

  • Tulane University (as seen in the video above)
  • the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York where IBM are helping the staff better control the environment to help with the preservation of the exhibits and
  • IBM’s Rochester Minnesota campus where the rollout of the software saw an already energy-efficient campus further reduce its energy consumption by 8%, according to IBM

    IBM Intelligent Operations Center for Smart Cities dashboard
    IBM Intelligent Operations Center for Smart Cities

Now while making software to make buildings more energy-efficient is pretty cool, IBM have seriously taken it up a notch by unveiling a software solution to make cities smarter. Called the Intelligent Operations Center for Smarter Cities this software is designed to help city officials to pull together data from divergent sources to help in the smoother running of cities.

 

IBM Intelligent Operations Center for Smart Cities

This is not new software, per se. What IBM have done is…

I want one of those cute energy dashboards IBM and HP are touting for my home

HP's Energy and Sustainability Management

Above is a screenshot of one of the slides from HP’s webinar announcing their new Energy and Sustainability Management solution.

What is most interesting about it for me is that, front and center there is a focus on Facilities and Buildings. We have already seen that IBM has identified Smarter Buildings as one of the major planks of its Smarter Planet program, now with HP chasing this sector as well, we are likely to see some major improvements in global building stock’s energy efficiency in the coming years.

It is nice to see HP re-discovering its interest in sustainability especially, since former CEO Mark Hurd eviscerated any programs related to sustainability in HP during his tenure. As my colleague James noted, the real legacy Léo Apotheker, HP’s new CEO, left SAP (where he was formerly CEO) is SAP’s deep commitment to sustainability. It looks like he is bringing his sustainability stamp to HP as well, but I digress.

As I noted in the post about IBM:

Smarter Buildings are obviously a big play what with buildings being responsible for anything up to 40% of the world’s energy use, and approximately 33% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions – and then there is the market size to consider – every building on the planet potentially.

Though there is one qualification to that – I suspect in the cases of both HP and IBM, when they refer to Smarter Buildings, they are primarily referring to commercial real estate, not residential buildings…

Energy efficient supercomputers from IBM!

Supercomputer
Photo credit Argonne National Laboratory

Supercomputers are particularly fast computers (often made up of thousands of “off the shelf” computers) typically used for highly calculation-intensive tasks such as climate research, molecular modelling, research into nuclear fusion, etc.

The Green 500 is a ranking of the most energy efficient supercomputers measured in Floating Point Operations per second/Watt (MFLOP/Watt). In the latest Supercomputing Green 500 List, a Q prototype of IBM’s next Blue Gene supercomputer came in at 1st place on the list.

What is most striking though is the margin by which the IBM solution took the first place…