On June 2-3, IBM convened forward-thinking leaders in Shanghai, China, to explore how we can build smarter city systems.
Hosted by IBM Chairman, President and CEO Samuel J. Palmisano, SmarterCities Shanghai offered an unprecedented opportunity to hear from enterprising leaders who are enlisting public support, securing funding, locating the right partners and fast-forwarding approvals to make their cities more efficient, more productive and—in a word—smarter.
Approximately 800 leaders from 180 cities in 38 countries across Asia Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas gathered to explore how to transform critical components of their cities to become more resilient, more sustainable and more secure. After all, the health of our planet and of society depends on it.
SmarterCities Learning from Leaders
Session I: A Planet of SmarterCities—Seizing the Opportunities
Cities are the economic engines of sustainable economic growth for the 21st century. This session featured senior government leaders and state-owned enterprises from China who discussed the bold steps they are taking to manage rapid urbanization and drive innovation.
Session II: SmarterCities—A Shared Agenda
Global competition for funding, energy and talent is making leaders do more with less. Here, we explored how enterprising, forward-thinking mayors from some of the world's most rapidly growing cities have garnered support and addressed citizen concerns to embark on serious urban transformation. We looked at the broader interrelationships between cities that help to build strong regions and countries, and discussed how these forward-thinking leaders are working to differentiate their cities to attract and retain the citizens and institutions they need to compete in a knowledge-based economy. Finally, we heard about Shanghai's preparations to host Expo 2010 and the best practices it has to share with other cities of the world.
Session III: How to Build a Smarter City
Cities today are at the intersection of major global shifts. As the world's population becomes more urban, the center of gravity of major challenge and opportunity is being shifted to cities. To respond to these changes, civic leaders are shaping their own leadership agendas and making new investments.
In this session, we heard how cities—particularly those in Asia—are taking advantage of the new opportunities created by urbanization and globalization, and how they are responding to the social and economic dimensions of these shifts. Later, we heard IBM’s viewpoints on how to build a smarter city. And then broke out into several groups discussions on how to get started, hearing from seasoned leaders and subject matter experts who have implemented programs in their cities in healthcare, energy, transportation, water management, public safety and government services.
The SmarterCities Leadership Series
Smarter Public Safety
Public safety is essential to the health and vibrancy of a city. It is among the most important factors influencing an individual's or a business's decision to locate in, live in or visit a particular city.
Today, a host of new technologies and innovative, community-based approaches are proving effective in helping to reduce urban crime and improve emergency response measures. But reducing crime and cutting down emergency response times do not necessarily make people in cities feel "safe" in this age of large-scale urban threats. To feel secure, citizens must have confidence in the entire city environment and its ability to resist those threats, which include natural disasters, violent crime and terrorism. This level of public safety requires collaboration from many policy and operational areas—from urban planning and education, to law enforcement and social cohesion.
This session highlighted how smarter cities can use advanced technologies and innovative approaches to help anticipate and prevent crimes, to respond quickly and effectively to emergencies, to predict and plan for disruptive events like fires or floods and to enhance the overall perception of safety among their citizens.
Smarter Energy and Utilities
New technologies, system-level analysis, and optimization dramatically improve the delivery of a city's basic utilities: energy, gas and water. These basic utility services are the foundational elements—and, in fact, a prerequisite—for any smarter city implementation.
We can change the way power is generated, distributed and used by adding digital intelligence to the current systems to reduce outages and faults, manage demand, and integrate renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power.
By adding a layer of digital intelligence, these smart grids use sensors, meters, digital controls and analytic tools to automate, monitor and control the two-way flow of energy across operations—from power plant to plug. A power company can optimize grid performance, prevent outages, restore outages faster and allow consumers to manage energy usage right down to the individual networked appliances. Smart grids can also incorporate new sustainable energies such as wind and solar generation, and interact locally with distributed power sources or plug-in electric vehicles. The whole system becomes more efficient, reliable and adaptive—a necessity for 21st century cities.
This session offered examples of how new technologies, capabilities, vision and leadership are transforming and modernizing electricity systems around the globe, and how these are a critical foundation for other systems in our cities.
Smarter Government Services and Education
More effective government services and an innovative education system are the most important economic investments a country can make in its future. Government services for businesses and citizens should be readily accessible to increase the productivity of users and government agencies.
Our session explored how thoughtful and well-designed government services are making it easier for businesses to thrive and for citizens to obtain necessary support. We also discussed how, citizens are preparing to be productive in the 21st century global economy. This session reviewed the best practices that global leaders are using to ensure that their governments provide innovative services and effective education to their communities.
As healthcare systems worldwide strain under escalating costs, globalization, outdated legislation, complex regulatory environments and misaligned incentives, they struggle to serve increasing patient volumes with obsolete reimbursement models. The rising incidence and cost of chronic disease and re-emerging infectious diseases only heighten the urgency of this situation, particularly in large urban settings.
The good news is that smarter healthcare systems are in fact starting to emerge and, with them, a host of best practices, better quality of care, increased efficiency, and increasing value. In this session we reviewed how national health networks can provide patient-centric, collaborative healthcare in urban and rural settings and help medically disadvantaged citizens lead better lives. We also heard about organizations that are improving patient safety and quality, increasing efficiency and contributing to overall citizen wellness through the use of health analytics.
Simply put, we cannot exist without water. It is the lifeblood of the entire planet, yet the only thing most people in the world have been able to control about their water is turning on and off their faucets. As urban areas become increasingly developed and populated, the challenge of providing enough clean water to their inhabitants continues to grow.
Municipalities lose as much as 50 percent of their water supply through leaky infrastructure. Water flow, capacity and quality issues affect businesses and the daily lives of millions. However, with advances in technology—sophisticated sensor networks, intelligent meters, deep computing and analytics—we can now make water management smarter.
We can be more effective in how we preserve, protect and use clean water for drinking, bathing, electric power, industrial manufacturing, food production and the irrigation of crops. We can monitor, measure and analyze entire water ecosystems from rivers and reservoirs to the pumps and pipes in our homes. We can give people, businesses, communities and countries dependent on a continuing supply of freshwater—that is, all of us—a single, reliable, minute-by-minute view of our water usage.
This interactive session explored how water management is being transformed at every level, thanks to better leadership, smarter visions and new intelligent solutions and tools.
Moderator: Dr. Sharon L. Nunes, Vice President, Big Green Innovations, IBM Corporation
The movement of people and freight across towns, between cities or around the world is critical to economic vitality and quality of life. Transportation operators must balance capacity needs while addressing four key imperatives: predicting demand and optimizing transportation infrastructure and assets; improving the end-to-end traveler and customer experience; improving operational efficiencies while reducing carbon emissions; and sustaining safety and security. To address these requirements, smarter cities must consider the multimodal transportation needs within the city and the movement between cities and countries. This will require integrating the transportation "system of systems," and moving beyond the traditional solutions of steel, asphalt and concrete to a mix of technologies such as cameras, sensors and analytics within and between transportation operators. This session examined the relationships across this "system of systems" and how to create smarter transportation that is adaptable, responsive, sustainable and affordable.
Session IV: The Urban System of Systems—Making the Case
The benefits of city growth are far-reaching, and multiple players have a stake. This session will explore urban subsystems—and how they overlap, support and influence each other to improve the mechanical functioning of the city and its quality of life. We brought together some of the experts from our breakout session—from academics to industry leaders and urban planners—to take a systemic look at how to tackle structural problems horizontally across the urban spectrum.
Session V: Investing in the SmarterCities Innovation Ecosystem
Around the world, governments are working closely with venture capitalists for economic recovery and growth. Here, top global investors discussed how they are driving transformative innovation by investing in smarter urban ecosystems in the growth markets.
Session VI: Leadership in the Decade of Smart
Cities—more than states, provinces or even nations—are clearly the platform on which to make 21st century life more productive, more efficient and more vibrant. Yet, if we're really going to drive meaningful change, we need to get a lot smarter. We concluded the event with practical ideas on how to seize this historic moment to transform our cities.
Expo 2010 Shanghai
To wrap up the event, we took part in an exclusive tour of Expo 2010 Shanghai to explore the latest innovations of 21st century urban life.