10 Social Media Tools to Navigate Your City

Today out on the Building a Smarter Planet blog (http://asmarterplanet.com/), there is a post by Josh Catone from Mashable titled Smarter Transportation: 10 Social Media Tools to Navigate Your City.  The post contains Josh’s list of social media sites that can help you plan routes from one location in a city to another.  The tools each have their own unique features and benefits….each is different in their own way. 

Here is my summary of Josh’s ten top tools. 

  1. Google Maps  We all know this tool for driving, but did you know it can help you plan a walking route too?  It can also help you find those Starbuck’s along your route.  But Google also offers even more features, like real-time traffic conditions.
  2. Waze  Waze specializes in real-time traffic information, collecting that information from it’s users.
  3. Wayfaring  Another Google Maps mashup, Wayfaring focuses on having users share experiences they had during their trip.
  4. Walk Score     For those people really into walking.  It tells you how ‘walk-friendly’ your route is going to be.
  5. MapMyRide   For those who love to ride bikes, this helps you preview that next ride.  It will even estimate the calories you will burn.
  6. HopStop  If you are into public transportation (trains, buses, subways, etc.) check out this tool. 
  7. Zimride   Josh likes this carpooling tool, which is cleverly integrated with Facebook.  If you are into carpooling, you might also want to check out iCarpool
  8. RideCharge   This tool helps you pre-book a taxi ride via your mobile device.
  9. GasBuddy   This tool delivers up-to-date gas prices, so you can plan out where to get that tank filled-up along your route.
  10. FuelFrog   This site helps you monitor how your car consumes gas, helping you learn how to reduce your fuel consumption.

For much more discussion of these tools, plus links to others, check out Josh’s post at http://asmarterplanet.com/blog/2009/09/smarter-transportation-10-social-media-tools-to-navigate-your-city.html

Working Smarter: Building a Smarter Enterprise

A couple weeks ago, IBM and InformationWeek sponsored a webinar, Optimize Business Performance by Building a Smarter Enterprise, to explore the topic of how companies are improving business processes and workflows in order to become a smarter, more agile enterprise. 

You can view the video replay of the webinar.  You need to register first by going to Optimize Business Performance by Building a Smarter Enterprise

A featured speaker on the webinar was James Surowiecki, world-renowned business strategist and author of the best-selling book The Wisdom of Crowds.  Also on the call was Jon Iwata, Chief Marketing Officer at IBM.  Both of them spoke during the one hour videocast.

The way a company’s employees get their work done is a critical lever in optimizing business performance.  But we all know you can improve business performance just by working harder or spending more on resources.  You need to figure out how you can make your workforce work ‘smarter’.   The secret is to create a collaborative and connected business environment that empowers people, embraces change and ultimately increases productivity.

Some facts about the way we work:

  • The time we spend just looking for the right expertise and information to do our jobs adds up to two hours in a typical day
  • A typical organization loses 5.3 hours per employee per week due to inefficient processes impacting how they work
  • Two-thirds of people believe there are colleagues who can help them do their jobs better…but they don't know how to find them

To work smarter, we’ll need smarter organizations — enhancing and benefiting from their people’s expertise, enterprise and creativity, rather than inhibiting them.  Transforming the collaborative infrastructure and processes of our places of work will enable people to take advantage of the full scope of an instrumented, interconnected and intelligent planet.  And the good news is that many organizations around the world are showing the way.  The rest of us need to pay attention to these innovative companies and learn from their case studies…then apply what we have learned to our own companies.

For more on the Smarter Work topic, check out IBM’s Smarter Work website here.

Friday Gadget: Augmented Reality Business Card

As gaming technology continues to advance at a rapid pace, we will begin to see that gaming technology make its way into everyday applications.  Augmented reality is an emerging technology that I’ve been increasingly fascinated with as it will further blur the line between what's real and what is generated by computers by enhancing what we see, hear, feel and smell.  I fully expect future movie goers will be experiencing AR in local theatres.

So I was looking for an example of how AR technology could be applied in the business environment and found a neat video I’ll embed below.  In the video, you’ll see a cool augmented reality business card created by James Alliban

In the video James shows a business card with a distinctive pattern on it to a computer equipped with a cheap web camera.  Software on the computer automatically renders a simple 3D object (attached to the card as it moves around in 3D) and plays a short video about the person whose business card is shown.  A nice idea if you want to convey more information about yourself than can possible fit on a paper business card. 

AR Business Card from James Alliban on Vimeo.

If you know of other neat AR applications for business, please comment with a link….thanks!

iCarpool wins the $50K Intelligent Transportation Systems Challenge

iCarpool I have previously blogged about the $50,000 Intelligent Transportation Traffic Challenge, well, the results are in and a winner has been announced. 

Earlier this summer, the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America),  in partnership with IBM and Spencer Trask Collaborative Innovations, launched a global challenge to identify innovative ideas for combating transportation congestion, and to find and fund a solution or start-up that can reduce environmental impact, strengthen economic productivity, move people more efficiently or prevent accidents.

The competition attracted 120 start-ups and solutions from 20 countries, and this was whittled down to nine finalists.

The winner, announced during an IBM session at the 16th ITS World Congress in Stockholm, was iCarpool (www.icarpoool.com).  iCarpool received a cash prize of $50,000 as well as development and implementation support to pursue turning their innovative ideas into real-world solutions.

Millions of people drive alone for commute, long distance trips or personal trips such as a shopping trip or an event.  iCarpool’s idea is an internet-based service  that offers one site for carpooling, which can result in substantial monetary savings by sharing fuel, toll and parking costs. It says it is building infrastructure which provides one multi-modal view with the best options other than driving alone.   Unlike a rideshare bulletin board, carpool listing service or zip code matching service, iCarpool uses high precision trip matching to find the best carpool match.

Check it out at www.icarpoool.com

Another Study Confirms Los Angeles Is Most Congested City In America

Just yesterday, I blogged about an IBM study that found that Los Angeles causes commuters ‘the most pain’.  Check out that post:  Los Angeles is Most Painful For Commuters.    For today’s post, I found another study that confirms the IBM study’s findings that L.A. is the most congested study. 

INRIX, a leading provider of traffic and navigation services in North America, recently announced their mid-year INRIX National Traffic Scorecard special report.  The report findings confirm that traffic congestion across the country is rising due to signs of economic recovery, initial rollouts of highway construction projects funded by federal stimulus packages, and lower fuel prices.  

The data for the INRIX study comes, in part, from tens of billions of data points from INRIX's network of over one million GPS-enabled cars and trucks traveling across nearly one million miles of roads.

INRIX analyzed and ranked the worst metro traffic bottlenecks across the country and found that New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago continued to
dominate the rankings in commuting nightmares.  According to the report, the top 10 most congested cities in the first half of 2009 were:

  1. Los Angeles, Calif.
  2. New York, N.Y.
  3. Chicago, Ill.
  4. Washington, D.C. (from 5th in first half of 2008)
  5. Dallas, Texas (from 4th in first half of 2008)
  6. Houston, Texas
  7. San Francisco, Calif.
  8. Boston, Mass.
  9. Seattle, Wash.
  10. Philadelphia, Pa.

Comparing to the IBM study I blogged about yesterday, the top cities causing ‘Commuter Pain’ on that list are 1) Los Angeles, 2) Washington, D.C., and 3) Miami.  It’s interesting to note that Miami did not even make the INRIX top 10.  Perhaps the commuters in Miami get easily frustrated by traffic?  🙂

The INRIX report also provides information on commercial freight traffic concentration.   Findings show that while the nation's busiest long haul freight roadways cut across 28 states, more than 95% of this mileage comes from just 10 states – including Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee and Texas.

For more information about this report,  see the complete National Traffic Scorecard, visit: http://inrix.com/scorecard/ and to view videos about the report go to http://YouTube.com/INRIXTraffic.

Los Angeles Traffic Congestion Is Most Painful For Commuters

Despite some small improvements in traffic congestion, mostly due to the nationwide recession, commuting is still a stressful and frustrating experience for drivers.  A few weeks ago, IBM released its second annual IBM Commuter Pain survey results.  The survey found that Los Angeles commuters experience the most frustration/stress (‘pain’) during their commute time.  Los Angeles ranked at the top of the commuter pain index, ahead of Washington DC, Miami, Chicago and Boston.

The Commuter Pain Survey was conducted by IBM to better understand consumer thinking toward traffic congestion as the issue reaches crisis proportions nationwide and higher levels of auto emissions stir environmental concerns.  These events are impacting communities in the U.S. and abroad, where governments, citizens and private sector organizations are looking beyond traditional remedies like additional roads and greater access to public transportation to reverse the negative impacts of increased road congestion.

The survey was fielded by Survey Sampling International (SSI) and 4,446 consumers responded — at least 400 in each city. 

Embedded in the results of the study was IBM’s Commuter Pain Index which attempts to find out which major American cities suffer the most from traffic congestion and lack of urban mobility.  The index is derived from the survey scores for each city on ten key issues:

  1. Commuting time,
  2. Time stuck in traffic,
  3. Value of time,
  4. Agreement that traffic has gotten worse,
  5. Agreement that start-stop traffic is a problem,
  6. Agreement that driving causes stress,
  7. Agreement that driving causes anger,
  8. Agreement that traffic affects work,
  9. Agreement that traffic so bad driving stopped, and
  10. Agreement that decided not to make trip due to traffic.

As a result of the information collected on the ten issues indicated above, the top ten 'worst cities’ for Commuter Pain are, in order:

  1. Los Angeles
  2. Washington, D.C.
  3. Miami
  4. Chicago
  5. Boston
  6. New York
  7. Atlanta
  8. San Francisco
  9. Dallas/FW
  10. Minneapolis/St. Paul

For the complete report, please click here: http://www-03.ibm.com/press/attachments/28320.pdf

IBM: CIO Study Identifies Top 8 Emerging IT Project Areas

If you did not catch the news last week that IBM announced findings from its latest research into what’s on CIO’s minds these days.  The study, The Global CIO Study 2009, is titled “The New Voice of the CIO”.   This post contains a quick summary of the findings.

The big news is that 83% of the survey respondents identified business intelligence and analytics – the ability to see patterns in vast amounts of data and extract actionable insights– as the way they will enhance their organizations competitiveness.   With an increased focus on data analytics, the survey also revealed that data reliability and security have emerged as increasingly urgent concerns, with 71 percent of CIOs planning to make additional investments in risk management and compliance.

As the role of the CIO itself transforms so do the types of projects they lead across their enterprises, which will allow CIOs to focus less time and resources on running internal infrastructure, and more time on transformation to help their companies grow revenue. CIOs are transforming their infrastructure to focus more on innovation and business value, rather than simply running IT.

Findings include:

  • 76% of CIOs are undergoing or planning virtualization projects, mostly in an attempt to lower energy costs.
  • 76% of CIOs anticipate a movement towards centralized infrastructures in the next five years.
  • Slightly more than half are expecting to implement completely standardized, low-cost business processes.
  • CIOs focus 55% of their time on activities that drive innovation and growth, whereas traditional IT tasks like infrastructure and operations management now make up only 45 percent.

CIOs also identified the top eight emerging IT project areas, including

  1. Business intelligence and analytics
  2. Virtualization and green IT
  3. Service oriented architectures (SOA)
  4. Service management
  5. Cloud computing
  6. Mobility solutions
  7. Unified communications
  8. Collaboration, social networking tools, and Web 2.0 projects

About the Study:  The Global CIO Study 2009 is perhaps the largest face-to-face survey of CIOs ever conducted.  2500 CIOs from 78 countries, 19 industries, and organizations of every size were interviewed.  The research was conducted over a four month period from January to April 2009.  The full 2009 CIO Study, podcasts and video interviews about the study are available at www.ibm.com/ciostudy.

Gartner: Disruptive Tech Trends To Watch

I attended a Gartner webinar a couple weeks ago that was titled :  Technology Trends you Can’t Afford to Ignore.   During the call, Raymond Paquet, Gartner Managing Vice President, provided a list of disruptive trends that Gartner says are reshaping the information technology and business landscape.  

Here is the list of 10 that were reviewed during the webinar. 

  1. Virtualization
  2. Data Deluge
  3. Energy & Green IT
  4. Consumerization & Social Networks
  5. Unified Communications
  6. Complex Resource Tracking
  7. Mobile & Wireless
  8. System Density
  9. Mashups & Portals
  10. Cloud Computing

As Gartner pointed out during the call, companies must identify the disruptive technologies that will impact their users and their business and develop plans to address these disruptions.  If your business does not have a process in place to identify the potential disruptive trends in your industry, then there is a good chance you will be caught off-guard when a trend suddenly turns your business model upside down.

Two months ago I blogged about another call Gartner had on disruptive trends.  Check that out at Gartner’s Latest List of Disruptive Technologies.  You’ll see that the list is the same as the one above.

An archive of the webinar is located here: Technology Trends you Can’t Afford to Ignore.  

Making Healthcare Smarter

Unless you are on Mars, you are aware that there’s a bunch of discussion going on now about making our Healthcare systems better.   Much of that discussion, I feel, is missing the critical topic of the IT infrastructure supporting our healthcare systems.  There needs to be more discussion on how to modernize the technology within the Healthcare systems. 

HealthCare systems should be designed to connect people to information, to experts and to each other so that collectively, we can all act proactively to better manage and deliver preventative and therapeutic care.  Our healthcare system s need better connections, better data, and faster and more detailed analysis.  It needs an integrated view of the underlying data/information and centering it on the patient, so each person "owns" his or her information, controls who access it, and has can provide that access to a networked team of collaborative care. 

We need to move away from paper records to electronic records.  This will reduce medical errors and improve efficiencies.  And more importantly, it will allow us to apply  advanced data analytics to the the vast amounts of data, to improve outcomes.

Some places for you to check out some good discussion going on these days about how technology can improve our healthcare system.


The video to the right (lasts 1:41) makes the case for a smarter HealthCare System


The following blogs are great resources on what is happening in Healthcare and IT

Upcoming Webinar

Join IBM and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) on September 16th, at 12:00ET for a complimentary web seminar:  "Making Smarter Healthcare a Reality: Implications for Today's CIO."Dan Pelino, General Manager of IBM Healthcare and Life Sciences, along with a distinguished guest panel will share their points of view on the evolution of smarter healthcare and how the motivational forces of patient safety and quality are driving new levels of transformation.  On the guest panel is…

  • G. Daniel Martich, MD, Chief Medical Information Officer and Associate Chief Medical Officer, UPMC, will discuss how UPMC embodies smarter healthcare and their transformative journey. Dr. Martich will also discuss the Center for Connected Medicine, a showcase facility for patient-centered, collaborative care.
  • Sean Hogan, Vice President, Global Healthcare Delivery Systems, IBM Healthcare and Life Sciences and Peggy Rodebush, RN, MSN, Healthcare Partner, IBM Global Business Services will share the results from the soon-to-be released IBM Global CIO Study providing provocative insights on the evolution of the Healthcare CIO’s role in the organization’s business strategy and in realizing innovative, smarter healthcare.  


House Passes Wind Energy Research and Development Act of 2009

Wind energy currently makes up 2% of the total energy generation in the United States, but there is the potential for it to provide up to 20% with the right improvements in turbine technology, forecasting, energy storage, and expansion of transmission systems.

So it is great to see that the U.S. lawmakers are starting to focus on this area.  Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Wind Energy Research and Development Act of 2009.  The bill, if eventually signed into law, would authorize a comprehensive program to improve the efficiency, reliability and cost effectiveness of domestic wind energy systems.

The bill would authorize the Secretary of Energy to carry out a program of research and development to improve the energy efficiency, reliability, and capacity of wind turbines; optimize the design and adaptability of wind energy systems; and reduce the cost of construction, generation, and maintenance of wind energy systems.

Specifically, this program would include:

  • Examination of new materials and designs to make larger, lighter, less expensive, and more reliable motor blades
  • Technologies to improve gearbox performance and reliability
  • Technologies to improve transmission from remotely located renewable resource rich areas
  • Low-cost transportable towers greater than 100 meters in height
  • Advanced computational modeling tools, control systems, blade sensors and advanced generators
  • Wind technology for offshore applications
  • Automation, materials, and assembly of large-scale components
  • Methods to assess and mitigate the effects of wind energy systems on radar and electromagnetic fields
  • Wind turbines with a maximum electric power production capacity of 100 kilowatts or less

The bill authorizes $200 million dollars per year from 2010 through 2014 for these programs.

Let’s hope this bill, or something like it, makes it way into law.

For more information

Smarter Cities Prediction Market

My colleagues at IBM have asked me to invite you to participate in a unique prediction market experiment called the “Smarter Cities Predictive Idea Markets”.  

Prediction Markets harness the collective intelligence of a community to gain predictive insight, and often even outperform the experts – as was the case in the 2008 US Presidential election.  They utilize stock market principles where participants get play money to “trade” ideas.

IBM’s Smarter Cities Predictive Idea Markets will allow you, along with other thought leaders, to further explore questions, ideas and opportunities that emerged and help determine which ideas may have the greatest chance for success. 

Participation is easy. Just visit the Smarter Cities Predictive Idea Markets http://smartercities.ibm.spigit.com Web site and register.  Once you’re registered, you can choose a market and begin making trades. The markets are open till September 13th, 2009 11:59 EDT.   Please feel free to share this invitation with other individuals that might be interested in participating – all submissions will remain confidential and only aggregated trading results will be shared across the community.

Complete details are on the Smarter Cities Predictive Idea Markets Web site.  Participation requires less than 5 minutes and every participant will receive a full set of results and insights at the beginning of October. 

Take advantage of this unique opportunity to take part in this experiment, share your insights, and see the collective opinions of your peers on the future of Smarter Cities. 

Friday Gadget: High Speed Robot Hand

In the future, robots will be not only more dexterous, but they will react dynamically at lightening speed based on all their embedded sensors.  In effect, they will become more human-like by understanding and processing their external environment by using many kinds of sensory information.

Future robot systems will be able to integrate all the sensory information into its decision making process, much like humans do today.

The Ishikawa Komuro Lab at the University of Tokyo has been doing research into both robot sensors and the parallel processing of the collected sensory information.  The purpose of the Lab’s Sensor Fusion Project is to develop innovative new architectures for sensory processing by integrating information from multiple sensors.

The Lab has recently been posting videos of some of the capabilities they have demonstrated in their lab.  Here is Ishikawa Komuro Lab's high-speed robot hand performing impressive acts of dexterity and skillful manipulation.

The robot hand

  • Dribbles a ball
  • Picks up a grain of rice with a tweezer
  • Spins a pen from one set of fingers to another
  • Knots a rope
  • Throws a ball into a net
  • Tosses a cell phone into the air and catches it.

For this technology to advance, we’ll need to see more work in areas like

  • Nanoscience
  • Sensors
  • Actuators
  • Parallel Processing
  • Dynamic Image Processing

For more information, see the Ishikawa Komuro Laboratory site.