System of systems
A city is the ultimate system of systems. It is the central point of convergence for the water system, the pipes through which our water flows. The transportation network which moves people and goods in, out and around. The grid which regulates the supply of power, from the regional level down to individual appliances. The education and healthcare systems which teach and care for its citizens. If we can integrate these core systems and make them transparent, inclusive and adaptive, we can improve the quality of our daily urban lives.
In a recent study, IBM identified six drivers which will reshape governments in the near future, ranging from urbanization to changing demographics to the increasingly powerful role of technology. Yet as universal as they are, they require unique responses suited to each nation, region or locality.
By 2050, nearly three quarters of our planet will live in cities. That's why public officials are turning to autonomic sense-and-respond capabilities, analytics, visualization and computational modeling to finally move from responding to events to anticipating and preventing them.
School systems are straining under budget cuts. The good news is that there have been advances in education technology—cloud computing, open source systems, virtualization, and analytics—to help our systems refresh outdated infrastructures with new functionality. They are already getting smarter.
For decades, people never really thought about power. Today ordinary consumers now take a genuine interest in the way power is generated and used. As well as efficiently distributing power, smarter grids actually inform consumers how to make proactive changes to reducing usage and costs.
Rethinking how we get from point A to point B means applying new technology and new policies to old assumptions and habits. It means improving the drivers' experience. And it could lead to advances in the cars we drive, the roads we drive them on, and the public transit we might take instead.
As the world evolves, so do the ways people become ill. So the world's healthcare systems must stay ahead of them. Smart healthcare networks can unite medical records, health professionals and facilities to coordinate a patient’s entire range of care needs from diagnosis through to cure.
To have enough water in the future, we need to share it in a smarter way. By connecting together sensors, smart meters and deep computing, we can analyse the water cycle through ecosystems, rivers and reservoirs to the pipes in our homes, providing us with the information to help use water less wastefully.
Imagine a smart rail system infused with enough intelligence to dynamically adjust schedules to cope with weather, detect potential problems before they cause delays and monitor train cars, supply chains, and passenger travel patterns to minimize environmental impact.
By 2025, buildings will use more energy than any other category of "consumer." (Already today, in the United States, they represent 70% of energy use.) And 40% of the world's current output of raw materials goes into buildings. That's about 3 billion tons annually.