Tag: transportation

Technology for Good – episode thirty two with SAP’s Sameer Patel

Welcome to episode thirty two of the Technology for Good hangout. In this week’s episode we had SAP‘s Sameer Patel as the guest on our show. Sameer and I are members of the Enterprise Irregulars group – a loose group of analysts and vendors with an interest in enterprise software. Previous Enterprise Irregulars who have guested on the show include David Terrar, Craig Cmehil, and Jon Reed.

There was a problem which wasn’t apparent to us during the show and that was that the video from my side never showed up in the recording. I suspect that’s because I was using a beta version of Chrome, but anyway, the audio, and Sameer’s video feed was recorded, so all’s well.

This week we didn’t get through all the stories we had lined up, ‘cos we had such a good discussion around the ones we did manage to fit in!

Some of the more fascinating stories we looked at on the show, included the growing number of technology companies who are abandoning ALEC, IBM’s new concentrating solar array which can create clean water, as well as solar power, and a new smartphone app which will help visually challenged users to read.

Here is the full list of stories that we covered in this week’s show:

 

Climate

Renewables

Lighting

Transportation

Data Centres

Connectivity

Drones

Hardware

Apps

Education

(Cross-posted @ GreenMonk: the blog)

Ubiquitous computing, the Internet of Things, and the discovery of sound

Sounds of East Lansing photo

I had a really interesting, wide-ranging, conversation with SalesForce’s VP for Strategic Research, Peter Coffee the other day.

A lot of our conversation revolved around how recent changes in the Internet of Things space, in ubiquitous computing, and in Big Data and analytics area are enabling profound effects on how we interact with the world.

Peter had a superb analogy – that of sound travelling through air. When sound is generated, it is transmitted from the source to the surrounding air particles, which vibrate or collide and pass the sound energy along to our ears. Without any air particles to vibrate, we wouldn’t hear the sound (hence there is no sound in space).

As you enter our planet’s atmosphere from space you start to encounter molecules of air. The more molecules there are, the better they can interact and the more likely they are to transmit sound.

If you hadn’t experienced air before, you might not be aware of the existence of sound. It is unlikely you would even predict that there would be such a thing as sound.

In a similar way, in the late eighties, when very few people had mobile phones, it would have been nigh on impossible to predict the emergence of the mobile computing platforms we’re seeing now, and the advances they’ve brought to things like health, education and access to markets (and cat videos!).

And, we are just at the beginning of another period when massive change will be enabled. This time by pervasive connectivity. And not just the universal connectivity of people which mobile phones has enabled, but the connectivity of literally everything that is being created by low cost sensors and the Internet of Things.

We are already seeing massive data streams now coming from expensive pieces of equipment such as commercial jets, trains, and even wind turbines.

But with the drastic fall in the price of the technologies, devices such as cars, light bulbs, even toothbrushes that were never previously, are now being instrumented and connected to the Internet.

This proliferation of (typically cloud) connected devices will allow for massive shifts in our ability to generate, analyse, and act on, data sets that we just didn’t have before now.

When we look at the concept of the connected home, for example. Back in 2009 when we in GreenMonk were espousing the Electricity 2.0 vision, many of the technologies to make it happen, hadn’t even been invented. Now, however, not only are our devices at home increasingly becoming connected, but technology providers like Apple, Google, and Samsung are creating platforms to allow us better manage all our connected devices. The GreenMonk Electricity 2.0 vision is now a lot closer to becoming reality.

We are also starting to see the beginnings of what will be seismic upheavals in the areas of health, education, and transportation.

No-one knows for sure what the next few years will bring, but it is sure going to be an exciting ride as we metaphorically discover sound, again and again, and again.

Photo credit Matt Katzenberger

(Cross-posted @ GreenMonk: the blog)

SAP TwoGo – ride-sharing software for the enterprise


In a less than obvious move earlier this week, SAP launched a ride-sharing app called TwoGo.

Why less than obvious? Well, ride-sharing is generally perceived as more of a consumer focused activity, than an enterprise one. And SAP is very much an Enterprise software company.

iPhone Rideshare apps

A quick search for ride-share iPhone apps, for example returns 24 results, all of which are consumer software plays.

TwoGo is more than just a smartphone app though (it is available on most mobile platforms), TwoGo customers can also access it through its website, via email, via any iCal enabled calendar application, and even via SMS.

It is a single instance, multi-tenant cloud application. This is important because it means for any organisations deploying TwoGo, set-up on SAP’s side simply involves adding the organisations email domain to the customer table. Then employees are immediately enabled to create a TwoGo account by signing up with their work email address.

Also, because it is single-instance and multi-tenant, smaller companies can sign up and benefit from sharing rides with employees of other companies in the area who are also TwoGo subscribers.

And because TwoGo works with email, and iCal already, integration issues are minimal.

Why would an organisation want to deploy a ride-sharing app, you ask?
There are several good reasons –

  • if companies are subsidising travel for employees, ride-sharing reduces the number of trips taken by employees, thereby contributing directly to the organisation’s bottom line.
  • For organisations with vehicle fleets, this also reduces wear and tear, service and maintenance costs for vehicles.
  • Then there’s the issue of having to provide car parking spaces for employees – this is expensive and a poor use of the space. Reducing the number of cars coming to work, de-facto reduces the amount of car parking spaces an organisation needs to provide.
  • And, obviously, ride-sharing will also reduce the organisation’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Then there’s the more intangible benefits –

  • Employees spending more time together leads to serendipitous meetings – what was previously ‘dead time’ in the car can now be productive
  • And it brings employees closer to each other and to the company

What about employees though – what benefits can they get from ride-sharing?
Carpool lane sign

  • The obvious one is the ability to use carpool lanes on freeways where traffic often moves significantly faster
  • Also, according to the US Census Bureau, nearly 600,000 Americans have “mega-commutes” of at least 90 minutes and 50 miles each way to work. A significant number of those would benefit from ride-sharing because of reduced costs (fuel and automobile wear and tear) and also to share the driving load. Driving, especially in heavy traffic, is frustrating.
  • Then there’s the social benefits of meeting new people, making new friends and learning more about other job functions in your organisation.

TwoGo, although just now being released, has been in operation at SAP for 2 years now. It is at release number 4.5, so this is already a mature product. SAP themselves report that TwoGo has generated more than $5 million in value, reduced greenhouse gas emissions by eliminating 400,000 miles of driving, and matched employees into carpools more than 36,000 times, creating 2,200 additional days of networking time among employees.

The app is highly configurable and has clever algorithms which only offer a user a ride to work, if it can also offer him/her a ride home that evening, as well. And obviously, the app has block lists to ensure you are not repeatedly offered lifts with someone you’d rather avoid.

Given all the benefits of TwoGo, we have to wonder why other enterprise software vendors haven’t come up with a similar product before now. Or have they? Does TwoGo have an enterprise competitor we’re not aware of?

Carpool lane image credit Lady Madonna

 

(Cross-posted @ GreenMonk: the blog)

IBM Summit’s first three days? – a great Start!

The Arch!

I attended the first three days of IBM’s Start summit last week and I’m definitely going back this week for more.

The venue (Lancaster House) is a sumptuous mansion in the centre of London whose opulence, defies description!

The event kicked off with a day dedicated to discussing Smarter Cities. The speaker list included Martin Powell (Boris Johnson’s Advisor on the Environment), Nigel Hugill (Chair of the board, Centre for Cities), Hamish McRae (Associate Editor, The Independent), and Emma Harrison CBE (who seemed a little out-of-place to be honest!).

IBM's Ginni Rometty spaeking at IBM Start

IBM’s Ginni Rometty spaeking at IBM Start

The audience on the day included several chief executives of cities, the talks (especially Martin Powell’s Achieving a Sustainable 21st Century City Environment) were incredibly interesting, and the networking was tremendous.

Day two was Smarter Energy for a Sustainable Future. This was by far the best of the three days I attended, which says a lot considering how good the other days were! Again, the speakers (incl Charles Hendry (UK Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change), Martin Lawrence, (MD, EDF) and Rachel Fletcher, Director Distribution, Ofgem) and the audience were stellar but two things made this day stand out for me: 1) there was far more audience participation encouraged than either of the other two days and 2) most of the discussions were about Smart Grids – a topic I have had a deep interest in for some time now.

Day three was all about Smart Transportation. Once more the delegate and speaker lists were stratospheric…

Friday Morning Green Numbers round-up 02/05/2010

Green Numbers
Here is this week’s Friday Green numbers round-up:

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

by-sa