IBM expands control suite for local governments

IBM Corp. has added more analytic capabilities to its Intelligent Operation Center suite, a portfolio of products that helps municipalities pull together information from disparate sources.

The new features are

–city permitting and event management, which analyses permit process and recommends the fastest way it can be done. It also looks for patterns in events the municipality has to set up covering many pieces of infrastructure, such as parades and conferences;

–infrastructure planning, which creates budget forecasts and plans for capital improvements;

–and water efficiency analytics, which searches through water pipe data to identify weak spots.

Karen Parrish, vice-president of IBM’s industry solutions for the public sector said in an interview IOC can correlate structured and unstructured data including video and 911 calls that can be displayed in a dashboard.

It is offered as a cloud service or on-premise software.

The new permitting analysis module is aimed at helping governments speed permits to citizens, she said, instead of having to deal with several levels of approval.

IOC links to third-party permitting applications to pull the data.

The event analysis part could help organizations deal with large events like an Olympics, she said, where dozens of departments have to be involved in co-ordinating activities.

IOC already has a water infrastructure module. What’s new is analytics capabilities do delve into data already collected and can help optimize pressure in water infrastructure.

IBM says worldwide up to 50 per cent of water is lost to local governments from leaky pipes.

Some cities — like Washington, D.C., Parrish said — still have wood water pipes.

The infrastructure planning module will help cities deal with aging infrastructure by identifying when roads, bridges and other capital structures will need repair.

IOC was released three years ago, first as an on-premise solution, and two years ago as a cloud service.

Among the customers is Cambridge, Ont., and Toronto’s fledgling waterfront revitalization agency.

IOC is part of IBM’s Smarter Cities product strategy. As part of that, it runs a competition offering to send IBM staff for free to work with municipalities to solve problems. It announced this week that it has expanded the eligibility to higher levels of government such as counties and regions.

Since the creation of the program in 2011, IBM has deployed 600 staffers in six-person teams to advise 100 municipalities and draft formal plans on a range of issues.

Winners have included Edmonton, which wanted to improve road safety, and Ottawa, which is looking for ways to develop neighborhoods around its light rail transit stations.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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