Smart Planet

IBM’s Chairman and CEO, Sam Palmisano, has been speaking to the Council of Foreign Relations in New York today. He’s been discussing how the planet is getting smarter:

These collective realizations have reminded us that we are all now connected – economically, technically and socially.  But we’re also learning that being connected is not sufficient.  Yes, the world continues to get “flatter.”  And yes, it continues to get smaller and more interconnected.  But something is happening that holds even greater potential.  In a word, our planet is becoming smarter.

In the speech, Sam talks about how the world has become instrumented, more interconnected, and devices more intelligent. And he talks about how the current world crises – ecological, financial, and others – represent an opportunity for change. The next step for the globally integrated economy is a globally integrated and intelligent economy and society.

Some of the problems and solutions that are being mentioned are interesting.

67 per cent of all electrical energy is lost due to inefficient power generation and grid management… utilities in the U.S., Denmark, Australia and Italy are now building digital grids to monitor the energy system in real time.

Congested roadways in the U.S. cost $78 billion annually in wasted hours and gas… Stockholm’s new smart toll system has resulted in 22 percent less traffic, a 12 to 40 percent drop in emissions and 40,000 additional daily users of the public transport system

This is exciting for me on many levels. Let me step up through them.

As regular readers will know, I’ve become increasingly interested in pervasive computing and home automation. The little “Current Cost craze” that has swept through my group of friends at work could be seen as a mark of the individual interest in applying technology in a smarter way. I’m excited that this has widened out to a group of folks who are supporting Chris Dalby’s Home Camp idea in London later this month.

Secondly, beyond this individual approach, it ties in to some of what I heard at the recent Web 2.0 Expo in Berlin… people talking about the opportunity for technology to change the way things work, from Tim O’Reilly’s keynote on the way forward for Internet technology and innovative thinking, to Tom Raftery’s brilliant GreenMonk pitch on Electricity 2.0.


STOP Studying the world. START Transforming it.

Finally, and most broadly, it’s a hopeful vision which resonates when lately, things do sometimes appear bleak.


Technology can help society. Let’s go and make it happen.

New York Times article on Sam Palmisano’s speech

YouTube Smarter Planet videos

Update: a couple more links, if you want to get involved…

Smarter Planet on FriendFeed

Smarter Planet on Tumblr

5 thoughts on “Smart Planet”

Leave a Reply