Nancy Staisey

Vice President, Smarter Cities
IBM


NATASHA What does location intelligence/geo mean to you?

NANCYIt’s another piece of data that can be used in creating intelligent systems. For example, many people understand that weather, which is location-based information, can make systems more intelligent; all location information either derived from a GPS unit, a geo-tagged photo, or sensor can be used to make us smarter.

NATASHA How did you get into location?

NANCY My focus is on Smarter Cities, and how to make our cities healthier, safer, more sustainable and more productive. Location information is often an important component of that. The more we can refine our predictions to specific locations, the smarter our cities become in their ability to predict and respond to events and issues from emergency management to economic development.

NATASHA How does location inspire?

NANCY The ability to see location globally has changed our thinking. This also coincides with another trend on rapidly growing cities. On a weekly basis, one million people move into cities. We are going to see a massive transformation of our cities based on where the population is located. With the signi cant rise in knowledge workers, and of the middle class around the world, who are now characteristically mobile, we are going to see increasing competition among cities to attract knowledge workers because they contribute to economic growth. Cities have traditionally competed for businesses; now they will compete for residents.

The ability to tackle the challenges of the cities of the future with location technologies is not only inspiring, but gives me confidence. To tackle the challenges of the future we really need everyone to play their part. The plethora of mobile devices combined with the ability to share location information creates a level of unprecedented citizen involvement that provides a whole new level of resources to identify and solve problems. Some examples of citizen activism include citizens taking geo-tagged photos of downed trees, overflowing water mains, pot holes in the road, and crime scenes, and sending them to the Mayor for action. These are just a few examples, but the possibility is unlimited, which starts to become the equivalent of crowd-sourced city services.


The more we can refine our predictions to specific locations, the smarter our cities become in their ability to predict and respond to events and issues from emergency management to economic development.


NATASHA How does location-based thinking improve business, the world and society, the economy?

NANCY I am going to answer this from a Smart Cities perspective with three examples. The city of South Bend, Indiana is an example of how using smarter water solutions with sensors in the water system can protect health, improve operations and reduce costs. South Bend was able to help ensure the sustainability of its water supply through this project. The city of South Bend installed sensors in the water system to predict and identify where potentially hazardous waste water over ows can occur and prevent them. This resulted in reducing hazardous waste water overflows from 22 to one in one year, which saved on average $325,000 annually with a 123% ROI.

Singapore is doing some very interesting things around their transportation systems. They have installed variable tolls around the day which reduce traffic flows to not only control congestion but also pollution. They have also created a personal transportation card that has information about you that can be used at a particular location. For example, if you are elderly or handicapped, when you swipe your card against the change-light post, the system will recognize you and determine if you need extra time to cross the street and adjust the traffic lights accordingly.

In Rio de Janeiro, we are able to predict flooding down to the city block level, which means that the city can warn those people that actually need to be evacuated. This avoids the costs and stress of evacuating the wrong people due to inaccurate flood scenarios.


nancysimage


“The city of South Bend installed sensors in the water system to predict and identify where potentially hazardous waste water overflows can occur and prevent them. This resulted in reducing hazardous waste water overflows from 22 to one in one year, which saved on average $325,000 annually with a 123% ROI.”


NATASHA What is your role relative to location in your position?

NANCY I am responsible for Smarter Cities for North America at IBM. I focus on solutions and technology thinking that help cities become smarter. By smarter I mean healthier, safer, more sustainable, and more productive. Location is a component of each one.

Cities are trying to solve a number of issues. For example Desert Mountain in Arizona is a golf community of five golf courses. The city was looking for a solution to improve water management to reduce water consumption. We designed a system that combined information from sensors on the greens, weather information to the control sprinkler system (which is a location-based system), to determine the time of day that water is least likely to evaporate, and most absorbable into the ground. This system showed a significant ROI in a very short period of time.

NATASHA What is the future of location?

NANCY We just keep getting smarter with a whole new era of computing that we call cognitive computing, that is enabling us to analyze and handle vast amounts of data in record time. Advanced analytics allows for predictions to a ner level of location, which allows us to become far more proactive in dealing with a myriad of issues. From a Smart Cities perspective, the ability to predict problems before they occur will dramatically change the way cities are currently managed.

NATASHA How does location benefit women in the world?

NANCY It helps all of humankind.