Today, at Maropeng in the Cradle of Humankind, IBM will engage leading South African corporates in a dialogue around creating a more sustainable, smarter global future.
Globalisation, ever more sophisticated technology and exploding bandwith have made the world a smaller, smarter, more connected place. Yet the systems on which the world depends such as – food and water systems, transport, energy, healthcare – remain inefficient.
IBM's Smart Planet initiative aims to foster the thinking, provide the tools and help create strategies that will drive positive change across these systems on a global scale.
IBM's Dario Debarbieri says: "The Smart Planet initiative is at the core of IBM's global strategy. It is founded on the premise that today any physical object, process or system can be instrumented, interconnected and infused with intelligence. Extraordinary opportunities exist to exploit this intelligence to the benefit of countries, corporates, industries and communities, and most importantly, the planet.
"IBM, with its wealth of IT expertise, deep industry knowledge, ability to analyse and re-engineer processes, and its global presence – over 350 000 employees that collaborate to share knowledge and experience — has a vantage point in terms of identifying challenges and potential solutions and stimulating debate and new thinking."
In a recent interview, IBM Corporation's Rich Lechner, vice-president of energy & environment, offered some interesting examples of the challenges the world faces.
Among others, he notes that only 30% of the potential electricity available at an energy source actually reaches the doorstep of the consumer; more than 20% of all the shipping containers and more than 25% of the trucks moving around on a global basis are empty; and the average carrot in the US travels 1600 miles to get to a dinner table.
In addition, he says, in 10 years' time more than 1-billion people will not have access to safe drinking water, yet today just five food and beverage companies consume enough water on an annual basis to serve the daily needs of everyone on the planet.
"Clearly something can be done to improve the efficiency of our systems," says Debarbieri.
The event at Maropeng will introduce IBM's Smart Planet strategy to a select group of corporates, engage them in a deeper conversation on a number of issues and initiate a dialogue in South Africa on how to improve systems that are critical to companies, industries, the country and the global community.
Says Debarbieri: "While there is a growing awareness among South African corporates and government of the need to create a more energy efficient sustainable future, there are numerous best practices and approaches within the IBM Smart Planet strategy that will assist to drive critical thinking and develop strategies that will enable greater efficiencies, improve their bottom line and generate a positive impact on the environment."
Internationally, there are numerous examples of the benefits of smart systems. Says Debarbieri: "There are real, measurable challenges we need to face: in LA, drivers consume 47 000 gallons of gas just looking for parking, while in France, traffic snarls account for the loss of six billion Euro's worth of lost man hours annually. In contrast, in Stockholm, a smart traffic system helped the city cut gridlock by 20%, reduce emissions by 12% and increase public transportation use dramatically.
"Today, having data in numerous silos or stored on different servers not only causes business inefficiencies and puts pressure on storage capacity, but consumes a lot of power unnecessarily. Thus, inefficient use of technology impacts energy use and the environment. Transformation to smarter, best practice technology architectures and approaches will not only lessen the company's impact on the environment but improve its competitiveness."