Bettina Tratz-Ryan

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

Bettina Tratz-Ryan
Research VP
14 years with Gartner
17 years in IT industry

Bettina Tratz-Ryan is a research vice president in Gartner Research, leading the research agenda for environmental sustainabity that is developing recommendations for technology and service vendors and software providers worldwide. Read Full Bio

Why China’s Smart Cities need to be Green Cities

by Bettina Tratz-Ryan  |  May 21, 2014  |  1 Comment

In my recent business travel to China I have come to meet the country’s growing ecological drive and awareness. China is known globally for its bad air and water pollution in cities. According to the recent report of China’s environmental development by the Environmental Protection Agency and Social Science Academic Press, Beijing registered in 2013 138 days of haze pollution. The agency reported that by now, 38 cities in China have an official emergency response process for haze pollution in place, ready to execute.  Measures include shutting down pollution generating factories during this time, temporary traffic restrictions and primary and middle school suspensions.

Metrics to measure haze pollution are available but need adjustment by city. The main indicator of haze is in terms of PM2.5 particles with diameter of less than 2.5 microns and for haze pollution of above 75 micrograms per cubic meter and visibility of less than 5 km for more than 6 hours as a result of the particles in the air. However China Meteorological Administration maintains that adding sand storm, precipitation and dust, it will actually change those metrics due to changes in visibility. Therefore, transparency of metric generation is absolutely key to deliver a sustained message about environmental challenges to people. Lack of understanding and trust can become an obstacle for the local government’s efforts to build infrastructure to manage environmental issues. During my visit, the construction of a garbage waste incineration plant in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province sparked public outcry as the benefits and the impact of that plants were not clearly communicated. Transparency in the decision making as well as in the benefit and risk assessment have to be improved which is a similar issue found in many other countries and cities.

In the meantime, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Development and Reform Commission as well as the National Bureau of statistics forecast that by 2015, China’s environmental protection industry product market will reach $91 billion or 570 billion Yuan. 80 percent of those sales in 2011 already were for airborne or water pollution management. Environmental monitoring products are taking the third largest share with around 9 percent.  This means that the increasing official and local recognition of environmental issues and the policies to curb those will drive technology innovation and business opportunity forward. This is actually a growth market opportunity for China’s industry.

I asked Celine Xu, a Gartner associate living and working in Beijing, about how people actually manage the environmental challenges on a daily basis. She mentioned that many people use applications on smart phones such as the Air Quality Index to decide on outdoor activities, or whether to take the bicycle to work or use the train. Actually the screenshot below shows the Index. The user has multiple references to determine the pollution level. In fact, Chinese users in urban areas often refer to the US Embassy Index because of lack of trust into the accuracy of the local government’s measuring system.  I was told that I was very lucky during my visit, the air was very clear. And yes, in the evenings, I was able to see stars and the moon, which citizens of Beijing are not taken for granted anymore.

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(Source: Xin.Yuan@gartner.com)

She also mentioned that concerns over quality of food in relation to food contamination drives citizens to buy groceries with clear labels of origin or imported food and drinks.  Transparent information is a key element that helps users to make the decisions on how to manage the environmental challenges now. However, cities like Beijing need to design their smart and green city strategy to overcome those and future challenges of urbanization and infrastructure requirements while growing in a sustainable, healthy and most productive way. They also need to build trust by communicating the results transparently to people in a consistent way.

One could think that China’s central government’s strategy of prescribing smart city as a national roadmap of infrastructure roll out would make it very easy to build straight forward consensus on how to do it. But that is not the case.   I met with different local and central leaders who were very interested in getting to know how internationally cities and local governments are establishing their own city-and citizen- perspectives on the vision of urban development. They wanted to understand the impact and measurements on key areas such as urban resilience, traffic and transportation, energy and water management, pollution containment, building and real estate development, healthcare and changes to education and senior citizen care.  Those issues rank in different priorities in other countries, but they are similar to any other city, just the scale and dimension is differently.

At the heart of development of smart cities is the information gathering from different sources, sensors, data bases and social media, the Internet of Everything. In order to avoid data overload and big data issues, the cities need to analyze all this information to map the essence of it to the context of the residential and business citizens.  This analysis is managed through the definition of context in the smart city operating governance framework which establishes the data and information governance as well as the measurements of progress of smart city.

Despite the fact that Chinese cities are supported by the Smart city framework of central government and Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development of China (MOHRUD), the individual data governance and data sharing methodology still varies immensely and is broadly, like in many other countries and cities in the world, dependent on the commitment of agencies to actively pursue information management. I was informed that in order to change traffic signaling of Beijing traffic dynamically in near-real time, data of 4 different agencies need to be linked together. This governance aspect of data migration and information exchange is a key challenge, especially when evaluating the data quality, integrity, data privacy and its reference to citizen and city operations use case and application.

With the assignment of 90 smart cities by MOHRUD in pilot phase 1, many smart city initiatives in different tiers of cities have been under way.  While still a prescribed national strategy, local government will be looking at building technology and citizen ecosystems that are in lock-step with residential and business citizen concerns while fostering environmental and sustainable industrial outcome.

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Innovative and Cool Technology and Service Providers Drive Sustainability Business Opportunity

by Bettina Tratz-Ryan  |  April 18, 2014  |  3 Comments

What do eComau, reBuy, GQuotient and Vigyanlabs have in common with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Northwestern University (Evanston, Illinois)? They have been selected by Gartner as the 2014 Cool Vendor for Sustainability and Green IT for their ability to develop and innovate a product, concept or solution which is based on a creative and cool value proposition targeting sustainable or green business opportunities. Those technology and service providers are incorporating real time and analytical elements such as the Internet of Things, analytics, Industry 4.0 and gamification as well as enterprise energy management to make their offering appealing to enterprise customers as well as consumers.

Business customers are receiving a clear and understandable message and proposition that the benefit of those offerings result in short term operational cost savings. In addition, they  can relate business value maps into the sustainable footprint which identifies long term risk and exposure of corporate IT and business towards environmental challenges. While long term strategies such as Create Shared Value  will drive business as well as customer focus and portfolio innovation, some customers will start with focused projects around IT Service, cloud and environmental footprint assessments, to relate details of sub systems metrics to a holistic-and infrastructure wide-  impact on sustainable corporate excellence.  The CLEER Model  is a joint development of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Northwestern University (Evanston, Illinois) which provides this analytical framework that can be leveraged by users and vendors alike to analyze the environmental footprint of the IT cloud solutions. Breaking down the knowledge barriers and information constrains related to the  environmental, social and economic footprint between business and the supporting IT assets, productivity in IT as well as the processes is addressed by GQuotient’s  measurement, mapping and visualization solution and dashboard.

Starting with a resource focused view on energy and resource consumption, Vigyanlabs IPMPlus suite evaluates electricity use patterns supported by energy meters and power-saving capabilities across OS and application layers.  On the industrial production and manufacturing applications front, energy efficiency and sustainability footprints across an industrial process chain are analyzed by eComau, an Italian engineering and robotics firm. Those processes are supported by an industrialized sensor base similar such as Industry 4.0 that provides real time information on the linked and embedded energy life cycle which is displayed on various dashboards.

The Cool Vendor report features the business opportunity of turning an electronic secondary device market or recommerce into an enticing value proposition. One of the key issues is how to entice consumers to resell or offer their retired electronics on trading platform or to recommerce market places. Gartner’s refurbished phone sales market forecast shows that consumers need a strong benefit and market push to resell their retired smart phones instead of keeping them as spares.  reBuy, a German recommerce company that buys and sells mobile devices, tablets, notebooks, e-book readers, games and books, as well as software and gaming consoles, builds a motivational and gamification-like approach by offer a community approach of reselling consumer devices.  It provides an innovative and cool trading platform where consumers can search their “used items” by search term or ISBN number and post them on an Internet marketplace.

All those selected vendors show that innovative customer approaches and solutions can provide substantial customer value.  Congratulations to the 2014 Cool Vendors for Sustainability and Green IT.

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Smart Citizen Need to trust the Internet of Things in Smart Cities

by Bettina Tratz-Ryan  |  November 28, 2013  |  Comments Off

Don’t you sometimes wish you had services that would be tailored to your specific needs for a very specific situation? Just think about how people live in communities and cities, with all their unique characteristics as parents, elderly, businesses, workers, children, people with disabilities, and so on. This diversity makes a city a unique place to be in, with social opportunity, economic prosperity and the right for a sustainable environment. Those objectives are key pillars in every smart city initiative. But how can we get from vision to execution?

In order to move from an interconnected digital community to contextualized and smart environment, communities and cities need to have knowledge and information about preferences and requirements of their citizens. The data and information can be collected and processed through a variety of devices, mobile and fixed sensors, practically the Internet of Things which will shape smart cities. That data provides valuable insights into patterns, preferences and the service requirements of people and businesses that directly or indirectly will use smart guidance models proposed by the semantic analysis of that data in the first place. And citizens and consumers also collect and socialize information that can complement or — in some cases — be even more valuable than information collected through infrastructure.  This begs the question on how to bestow the trust in a smart city system that is based on business intelligence analytics and what business model makes sense. The business model for safety and trust will be key for the IoT’s data management. It is not appropriate to utilize and exploit information on senior citizens and children for commercial models, but applying a guidance system in a shopping mall or airports would be. Therefore, the IoT will include a trust service broker model which applies a methodology of privacy, security, and policy to the new service environments. This would mean that the collected data will be managed in distributed trust zones through hubs and gateways that apply policy of data management to the individual user scenario.  The EyeHub pilot project defines smart and safe campuses through the  Internet of Things which is interestingly thought-provoking by applying a fully secured interactive platform into the university campus with a sophisticated user defined security application. The personalized security preferences are managed by a gatekeeper and through the hubs. Taking the concept of EyeHub further, sensitive data of senior citizens, or people with disability could be shared so that traffic signals, public service announcements and location services would be “translated” to the requirements of the seniors in real time. On the commercial side, logistics organizations, delivery services, transportation services between harbors, warehousing and trading centers can all use transit information domains, GIS or traffic patterns to determine efficient routing through urban centers for their specific goods and services.

The IoT will be the “glue” in mapping smart information and people together.  And while the industry has seen its potential in operations and infrastructure, the experience to manage contextual value that recognizes the unique characteristics of people remain a challenge for the execution of smart cities today.

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US announces Climate Action Plan

by Bettina Tratz-Ryan  |  June 25, 2013  |  Comments Off

US announces Climate Action Plan

The US has announced a comprehensive Climate Action Plan that includes the reduction of green house gas emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels by the end of 2020. It also introduces limits on emissions generated by newly build and existing power plants, which contribute to 40 percent to the US carbon footprint. The Action Plan details also renewable energy projects especially for federal housing and military installations, as well as supporting the investments into green technologies by providing federal loan guarantees. One intention of the plan is really clear, the provisions are calling for a joint approach between stakeholders of EPA, state, city, industry, tribal authorities and communities. Only if there is common ground in the methodology of how to develop policies and measurements, the execution will be possible. Technology will play a major role in identifying, monitoring and reporting resource inefficiencies and potential for environmental management, but those need to be embedded in standardize interfaces and tools. Bringing all stakeholders together on one consensus table will be an important step towards building a common sustainability and climate pact.

There are differnet initiatives with concrete outcomes that have been established in the US  already. The Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy (BICEP) coalition is a group of 33 large corporations in the US, including Intel, Nike, Unilever and Symantec, who push for CO2 emission and sustainability standards.  In addition, cities like Seattle, San Francisco, Washington DC,  Austin and Philadelphia have started to impose an energy reporting mandate on building owners with real estate footprint of more than 20,000 sqft. Those cities already use an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Portfolio Manager which provides a standardized methodology to report energy performance and consumption data. Those can be best demonstration projects for the President’s Better Building Challenge.

New York City is amongst the most active advocates on developing a sustainable and resilient city, especially in the rebuild of damage of Hurricane Sandy. The Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities-Centennial Challenge is an example how foundations and cities work together to fill the void of a national policy to support a sustainable and comprehensive urban development taking climate and environmental challenges into consideration.

While the discussion in the US on the impact of the Climate Action Plan faces the challenge of being derailed by stakeholder driven controversy, European policy making on broad execution of the Horizon 20-20-20 goals are taking shape. During this week’s Sustainable Energy Week, pilot and demonstration projects in cities showcase together with researchers and citizen groups the design, implementation and monitoring of energy and carbon footprinting in buildings, districts and cities. It extends beyond energy consumption into renewable energy generation mandated by the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive 2010 to include near zero energy.   And while the US industry debates the cost of the new Climate guidelines on the industry, in Europe the discussion on energy efficiency alone is expected to bring new jobs, innovation potential and IP on new clean tech as well as new thoughtleadership models  for ecosystems in energy balancing and urban mobility.  The US Climate Action Plan has the ability to take the best practice from the EU policy perspective and can focus on what has worked, without funding projects that face little chance of being replicable for the industry or cities in the future.  It also provides an entry point to develop corporate excellence for US industry and keep its industry competitive and compliant. As mandates such as the EU Energy Directive ratified in 2012 will also impose energy audits for US organizations established in Europe, US companies can those compliant systems also in their domestic organizations to realize resource efficiency potential.   The Climate Action Plan will make US enterprises and the industry ready for global climate and sustainability playing fields.

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Urban mobility and electric vehicle strategies lack holistic vision

by Bettina Tratz-Ryan  |  May 28, 2013  |  1 Comment

There are different approaches in changing traffic patterns and transportation in cities and urban regions. Some cities have been best practice leaders in electronic tolling systems and congestion charging such as Wuhan/China and Singapore. Some have taken the wasted time for the search of parking spaces into consideration and created dynamic parking guidance systems such as in Santa Monica and Los Angeles. Some have implemented electric vehicle car sharing points in downtown areas, such as Paris and Munich. Cities like Copenhagen have restricted the vehicle traffic into the city, instead supporting bicycle lane instead. You get the pictures, different initiatives solving the selective issues in those cities.
The manner in which citizens- whether they are part of an enterprise or business environment, or residents, tourists, and passers-by, navigate through cities deserve a comprehensive urban mobility view including vehicle traffic, drivers, as well as road utilization and parking. This context of mobility can be measured in traffic velocity and throughput, alternative options for mode of transport, as well as impact on environmental metrics such as air quality, pollution levels, CO2 emissions and energy savings. Most important metric should be how citizens rate the success of the mobility concept in terms of commuter time saved, convenience to navigate options, real time information on availability or access to different services depending on frequency of system used, special service requirements or different dynamic access modes.
Many cities today toil with the idea of electric mobility, especially in Europe but with a limited view on the overall impact on the urban mobility concept. The key is that national governments such as Germany, Japan or South Korea are pushing electric vehicle policies to support the national automobile industry and innovation around it. However, the initial and primary use case for those e-vehicles will be in urban areas. So the question really becomes how well are cities prepared to take an integrated user view of electric mobility, not just the vehicles alone. Much investment will be needed to build out electric charging station throughout urban corridors. This is the safety perception for drivers to feel confident that if they need charging they have options to receive it. But that could not be the only benefit. Do electric vehicles receive special parking rights? Are there special lanes dedicated for e-vehicle drivers during peak hours of traffic? Passing through tunnels or bridges, do they receive rebates? What is the impact on their electricity subscription? Electricity utilities need to change their billing model to accommodate service models and electric roaming charges, as well as the context of electricity subscription per electricity customer. This requires a comprehensive business environment that can not be solved by just talking about the technology but needs to take the user/driver/citizen benefit assessment as well. As a city example on how this can be done, the city of Malaga launched Zem2all , an electric mobility pilot that includes the utility Endesa, electric vehicle manufacturers, citizen as drivers as well as a service environment to assess the opportunity of electric mobility through the city and beyond. This pilot provides a holistic impact analysis on usage patterns of electric vehicles, charging requirements, driver satisfaction, as well as the impact on the electricity grid and environmental outcomes.
Smart urban city planning which is based on intelligent technology capabilities in smart cities require the ability to develop strategic scenarios that include the holistic mobility impact on people who are supported by the infrastructure that include vehicles, and not vice versa. Automobile industry and utility providers should work closely together with urban concept planners and city governments to understand the common mobility requirements of citizens and businesses. This would also accelerate the business service environment that supported by applications and service stores through third party developers.

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Sustainability Strategy in Datacenters will Become a key component of Corporate Excellence

by Bettina Tratz-Ryan  |  May 7, 2013  |  2 Comments

Environmental sustainability, identified in the resource-conscious execution of the business environment as well as its operations of an organization, is one of the key benchmarks for corporate excellence. That benchmark is increasingly applied for corporate risk assessment, and incorporates the analysis of exposure to environmental compliance, the impact of carbon regulations, knowledge exchange and environmental management responsibility as well as governance across the supply chain .
In 2013, many organizations identify sustainability as one of the risk indicators for corporate performance but rate its priority according to its strategic impact in different ways. They are largely influenced by the external factors of governmental oversight and brand/marketing in different geographies. Different executive priorities, as identified in Gartner’s 2012 CEO survey reveal that CEOs recognize sustainability as a holistic and imperative principle in the long term, but the execution and measurement of impact on the different operations lack a structured framework . They are supported by CIOs and IT leaders which drive decisions for IT infrastructure design and management that do not only impact more cost efficiently enterprise goals but will play a part in corporate performance and risk assessment. Energy, human capital, environmental compliance and e-waste are factors in this risk assessment that should be also metrics of a total cost of ownership analysis. The good news is that the market place today is emerging offerings such as energy software management solutions that directly address energy procurement for the entire IT and facilities, relating it to carbon and align efficiency metrics or caps around it, while integrated analysis and management capabilities. Recognizing complex energy relationships and measuring the impacts will allow organizations to capture synergies in risk and compliance reporting by developing environmental processes to determine consistently the sustainable outcome of business and operations simultaneously. Datacenters represent a large consumer for resources, and therefore provide potential to incorporate resource conscious design, operations and management in its management processes. Gartner has developed a sustainable framework for datacenters that connects resource awareness with resource efficient DC operations principles. Those principles are guided by information and data based analytics in order to obtain a comprehensive DC footprint analysis that identifies sustainability as a core element. The framework is guided by new technology solutions that include energy management, carbon translation and reporting functions, and give guidance on compute efficiency for IT systems while addressing power and cooling issues of data center infrastructure tools. Communications interfaces with different devices and dashboards are key to keep all process owners and IT leaders in synch and leverage the potential of broader knowledge exchange of resource consumption between the business applications related to the compute power which the IT department is providing. Sustainability across the operations, especially in the datacenter, is a necessary result to drive IT efficiency and holistic reporting culture across an organization.

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Moving Intelligence into Watermanagement

by Bettina Tratz-Ryan  |  April 23, 2013  |  1 Comment

Lots of discussion on smart grid is focusing on energy today, government subsidies and R&D ecosystems come from different industry associations and tech provider ecosystems. Water has received less attention despite  the world economic forum had published its 2013 risk report that clearly states challenges in water supply overall as one of the large economic and social risk factors.

 In urbanization and smart cities, water management is no longer an operations issue of managing physical infrastructure, but rather how assets in the water network’s hydrological cycle function together.  The cost of water as a fresh water resource does not include the holistic cost of the hydrological cycle today, so low water cost is taken in many countries by consumers and businesses  for granted.  Regulators have taken steps to build water specific blueprints such as by the European Commission’s DC Connect Sustainability, to evaluate guidelines for EU policy on waterways and river basins, on challenges of water scarcity and droughts as well as a safeguard for water resources.  Therefore, many technology and service providers (TSPs) that compete in the electricity grid and utility space have slowly started to apply their know-how on water utilities and water intensive users in cities.

The mix in public governance of fresh water and waste water companies as well as outsourced partnerships designed to manage rainwater run offs  and watersheds, make the exchange of performance metrics of grid and water levels quite difficult. Environmental management solutions that include water as a resource can identify the priorities of water related metrics for efficiency and velocity in different systems and by different users, including datacenters, buildings and public facilities.   According to Gartner’s research on water management solutions, there is an increasing number of analytics and information related management systems that are standardized to include environmental metrics allowing the modeling of water flows and consumption patterns and enable real time water distribution and information  ecosystems in smart cities.

Water analytics companies such as Kisters and Seams are joining large IT and OT systems providers such as IBM, GE and others to build comprehensive solutions to understand the performance quality and threats of todays’ and tomorrows’ water supply. Analytics that take data points from different sensor s  and feed it back into data and information management systems can  identify water velocity,  loss of water pressure and excessive consumption because of transportation and distribution architecture. Especially in urban environment, understanding and displaying consumption patterns as well as management of natural water threats will become key function of centralized resource management and city operations.

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Health check on Green and Sustainable IT Infrastructure and Operations Maturity

by Bettina Tratz-Ryan  |  March 15, 2013  |  Comments Off

Ever wonder how green holistic IT operations really are? How your customers are integrating green performance measurements into their procurement requirements? In a world of stack rankings and sustainability competitions, it is very important to identify the maturity of the framework, the consistency of the measurements, and the impact of how organizations are integrating this methodology in their IT procurement and strategic operations management.  Assessment benchmarks such as energy consumption, carbon measurements, electronic waste, and asset life cycle management are standard sustainability business performance metrics, but the understanding  the context of the metrics within different processes, replacement cycles, or virtualization models are key to determine the commitment level of the vendor, or the end user organization.

Gartner’s Toolkit: Maturity Assessment for Green and Sustainable Infrastructure and Operations goes a step further. The toolkit provides a “health check” setting a level ground on the Green DNA of a company in order to build a consistent and outcome-oriented sustainability strategy. Sustainability reporting tools often measure the lowest common denominator because that is what on an operational level, everybody can pull from infrastructure data points. There are effective reporting assessments such as GRI Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)  and carbon disclosure Carbon Disclosure Project which helps in this quest, but they are far from helping organizations to establish and manage an effective environmental sustainability strategy.  Establishing the maturity of the implementations generates a knowledge exchange between programmes that work and processes that can be improved.  Key is to develop a guideline with process owners that are defining technology and solutions benchmarks while taking responsibility for execution. Transparency and communications of this maturity serve internal and external communications goals, to develop brand and thought leadership or internally to justify projects and to apply consistent training and communications to employees, supply chain and stakeholders.

Many procurement agreements especially in public sector include the assessment of environmental impact of products and services. The European Commission green procurement guideline as well as the ITU Guidelines on Green ICT procurement show the need for vendors to develop transparent reporting of their product and service life cycles and communicate those in lock-step with their customer’s sustainability maturity level.  Gartner hosts on April 9, 2013 at 11 am EST a Webinar on the Maturity Model for Sustainability in IT Infrastructure and Operations, discussing the maturity levels, roadmap of implementation as well as the impact for the vendor community. Environmental management is part of corporate social responsibility (CSR), but has a different impact on the business. CSR will shape brand while proof compliance, while environmental sustainability will shape the business environment, innovation and competitiveness.  Both are needed and require a consistent management and execution framework. It is more than just a project.

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COP17: Who Bears The Risks Associated With Climate Change?

by Bettina Tratz-Ryan  |  December 2, 2011  |  Comments Off

So, there is yet another meeting of global leaders discussing global climate change. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Cop 17, in Durban, South Africa, is expected to deliver the successor of the Kyoto Agreement, binding countries to commitments to reduce the impact of climate change. The challenges are gargantuan!!! We are talking here about a consensus that could… no, let me drive my point here: will impact our civilization and our social and economic well being… And though this sounds like we’re taking the moral high ground, let me quantify this issue in an IT and business value context for you. Driven by the dramatic after-effects of natural disasters, i.e. tsunamis in Japan, or the flooding in Thailand, such events have presented a huge business risk in the globalized business environment. Forge this with the ever increasing prices of energy and materials, your resource planning, as part of the operational cost assessment, needs to become not only an essential part of your KPIs, but need to be defined in your key risk indicators as well. Peter Sondergaard had concluded during Gartner’s ITExpo in Orlando in October 2011, (http://www.gartner.com/technology/research/symposium-keynotes/index.jsp) that risk management in the business context is the foundation of risk-adjusted value management. So going back to Cop 17, what is our business context here? And what is the business value?
The latest releases of the GHG emissions show that developing countries, with emerging market and economic growth, increased their emissions substantially. According to our research, (http://www.gartner.com/resId=1860415 ) emerging markets will represent nearly 31% of the global ICT spending for 2011. So, there is an opportunity for further investment in technologies and infrastructures that allows those regions to grow while applying sustainable business principles. This is of the utmost importance when you consider the limitations of an electricity grid, and the availability caps challenging “high energy-using enterprise structures” such as datacenters (http://www.gartner.com/resId=1853516). I have reason to believe that, either sooner or later, they will be “leapfrogging” technologies and business processes to their “cutting edge”. Could the Green Climate Fund be used to promote those future investors/investments into a new generation of business values that is “sustainably responsible”?
One fact remains clear: we are already living through the onset of global climate change and we need to pursue these matters, as governments, businesses, organizations, and citizens of the planet Earth, not only because it is the responsible thing to do, but also because we need to reduce our exposure to potential economic and demographic losses and higher costs. There is a strategic business value component when gene-splicing resource efficiency (Green IT) and environmental metrics into your corporate and operational DNA. However, sustainability, as part of a strategic business alignment, has to percolate through the “executive coffee urn” (management) and should be dispensed into “organizational coffee cups” (business lines)… And your name, your brand, your reputation??? The impact of “Generation Y”, who are growing up with a natural understanding of green issues, as consumers, users, investors, customers, partners or employees, they will hold your organization to it.
So while the members of COP17 meeting are debating about transparency and inclusion criteria for funding the Green Climate Fund and the scope of activities, our business risk exposure through climate change is going to increase.

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Observations from a “Smarter” Operations Center in Rio de Janeiro

by Bettina Tratz-Ryan  |  November 17, 2011  |  1 Comment

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the Smarter Cities  event hosted by IBM in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. My first experience was a visit to Rio’s Operations Center, built by the city and IBM as part of the city’s urbanization strategy to integrate 30 different agencies that manage the city and citizen’s services. IBM has built the first stage of the operations center as an infrastructure platform with the information management capabilities available. Each city has the ability to integrate those capabilities around their specific requirements of process alignment and data integrity. By building this center for Rio, IBM is moving its previously fully customized delivery of the smart city framework into a platform and service solutions model.
The operations center is focused in its core to provide a comprehensive emergency response system, implement crime prevention, detect and handle utility outages and traffic issues, resulting in safety and revitalization of different sections of the city. What I saw was equivalent to Mission Control Center NASA, a large wall full of different control screens, with feeds from over 400 video cameras and other sensors, as well as a map, with infrastructure outages and remediation activities. Operators from the different agencies were monitoring the screens, and based on the different scenarios, applied the appropriate standard operating procedures that determine activities and processes between the different agencies. What was really amazing though was the fact that, at this point, none of the operators really worked with the full capability of the integrated processes and data flows that proactively share and consolidate information between the agencies. Still, the center worked like clockwork.
After talking to the people and getting an understanding how the feeds of data and information from different databases and simulation schemes such as weather, topological changes and traffic are being analyzed, it was clear that the process of aligning and standardizing syntax and information logic across the agencies will not happen overnight. The operations center has been working for more than 10 months now, and the ability to have all of those subsystems under one roof and collaboratively working on traffic jams, electricity outages, weather challenges, etc., actually becomes an A+ success factor in Rio’s urban city operations. Bringing agencies under one roof and develop standard operations procedures sounds initially so trivial but represents a real game changer for many cities, considering that different public and private entities have always worked with different premises in their “day to day” activities or in their crisis resolutions. For Rio, the cooperation model has enabled the city to deal with their worst case scenario: heavy rainfalls that will threaten Favellas with mudslides. The center has now the ability to warn residents, through text messages and sirens, of the pending dangers and evacuations can be ordered almost immediately. Fixing electricity and street light outages is improving crime rate statistics in a decreasingly way.
Even though the data cannot be integrated through all the systems, as every system takes time to identify a common syntax in all of the information, the action items that are triggered through the information displayed on the large monitor screens are. So the ”man pool” in the center provides the human interface to all the different organizations. Bringing change and the opportunity through knowledge and information about the city is being brought very close to the citizens as well. Through social media, websites and a single public service phone number, touchpoints to city administration, utilities and transport moves closer to the citizens of Rio. They can partake in the transformation of their city by determining through different city application inclusion programs and competitions …what they expect from the new and more sustainable city! With the Soccer World Cup and Olympic Games approaching, this represents a great opportunity to leverage their ideas and get support for public investments and change management. The city is already successfully demonstrating the “usefulness” of its spending in the operations center on a daily basis. All the reporters and the news media broadcast live from the center, and can provide “up to the minute” weather and traffic information, school and special event information, anticipated outages and so on. The citizens see exactly what the mayor sees, giving the people the feeling that they are an equal partner in making the city a “smarter” environment.

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