Commonwealth Of Massachusetts, City Of Boston, Boston University, And IBM Partner On Smarter Cities Project

IBM has announced multiple Smarter Planet projects with the City of Boston, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and Boston University aimed at exploring new solutions to urban challenges. These projects focus on using new technology to increase energy efficiency, enhance coordination of major events, reduce traffic congestion, and improve the maintenance of the streetscape. Across all of these initiatives, the partners plan to collaborate on the implementation and evaluation of this work.

“Boston has always been a smart city,” said Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino. “These partnerships and projects, however, are the newest step in our exploration to address long-standing interests of our residents, such as improving traffic and greening our city.”

Bill Oates, CIO of the City of Boston (Photo: Heidi Schwartz)
Bill Oates, CIO of the City of Boston, discussed how the city plans to leverage the power of social media to interface with its constituents. (Photo: Heidi Schwartz)

These pilots leverage IBM technology and will combine high volumes of data from sensors and databases (aka “Big Data”) with a layer of analytics software. This infrastructure will allow officials to visualize and manage operations more efficiently.

For instance, Boston maintains over 60,000 street lights, keeping residential streets and main thoroughfares appropriately lit. At any given time, roughly 3% of these lights are out, and bulbs need to be replaced or wiring needs to be fixed. With the IBM Maximo solution, Boston’s Public Works Department is piloting a new asset management platform to support street light operations. Based on the success of this pilot, the City of Boston may extend the asset management system to support additional operations in the City.

Supported by an IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grant in 2012, the City of Boston, Boston University, and IBM drafted a detailed set of recommendations about unlocking and analyzing transportation data in Boston. This work is expected to continue in 2013 with a series of data-oriented projects.

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