IBM smart city product promises integrated, rapid incident response
Rapid communication has never been unimportant to first responders. But while the ability to relay critical information quickly has improved drastically since the days of handringing a town hall bell, integrated information now plays a crucial role in containing emergency and complex situations.
Is there a way to divert foot traffic away from a subway line falling behind schedule due to mechanical problems, for example? What’s the fastest way to get that information to the patrolmen nearest the stations down the line? Or if a winter accident blocks both lanes of a rural, limited access artery, integrated information and rapid communication might keep traffic moving. How quickly can you communicate the situation to agencies such as police and fire departments in both towns, alerting motorists in time to avoid the area?
IBM engineers think they have developed a means to reduce the impact of emergencies. The reasoning behind the project is connecting departments and agencies in real time for optimum and rapid response minimizes secondary issues and the augmenting of primary problems.
The product, rolled out commercially during the summer, is called “Intelligent Operations Center for Smarter Cities.” It provides a dashboard of information linked from disparate departments and agencies and allows responders to send real-time reports from the field and receive information about what additional manpower is on the way, or what other factors might be about to complicate the situation. Conversely, it also purports to minimize overspending by not hitting every incident with every tool in the toolbox, but instead targeting response with only appropriate resources.
According to the company, the product’s software is open and capable of integrating interoperable with a wide variety of existing systems. Software Developer Michael Kehoe noted recently the system even has the capability to control municipal spending — for example, by allowing the Intelligence Center operator to access the service records of all department vehicles and prioritizing purchases after comparing the age and condition of one department’s vehicles to all others in the city or country.
Information technology blogger Todd Watson of IBM posted a story in December summarizing how Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, utilized smart city technology to prepare the metropolis for hordes of visitors to the already-populous South American capital. The country will open its doors to international soccer fans in 2014 by hosting the World Cup tournament, then turn around and welcome another throng of sports fans from across the globe for the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Watson’s video report noted that among other technologically-enabled foresights, Brazil now tracks changes in flood and landslide forecasts. Emergency response crews and resources are directed to areas that develop as high risks. Emergency response times have diminished by a reported 30 percent.
At www.turbotodd.com, another testimonial video — this time from Corpus Christi, Texas — presents a common municipal challenge and the IOCSC-enabled response.
Smarter city technology has drastically reduced confusion resulting from work orders that come in by both email and phone from residents, city workers in the field and other disparate sources. The orders were previously handled in inconsistent ways. With the new system, employees can check the history of work orders at any given location, giving crews the knowledge of what sort of repair might work best — as well as plan preventative maintenance across departments. Sources: www-01.ibm.com/software/industry/intelligent-oper-center/ and turbotodd.wordpress.com/category/smarter-cities/
By Jodi Magallanes