IBM and Carnegie Mellon University will create a collaborative lab at the university to undertake research and create technologies to help cities, governments and industries worldwide develop smarter infrastructures.
The new lab, part of the Pennsylvania Smart Infrastructure Incubator (PSII), will be located within the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering on the CMU campus in Pittsburgh, PA. The PSII is a Commonwealth of Pennsylvania economic development initiative to create an incubator for advanced infrastructure technology in partnership with industry and the state. The lab is expected to be operational in the fall of 2010.
The IBM Smarter Infrastructure Lab at Carnegie Mellon University will develop technologies that are consistent with IBM's Smarter Planet initiative, IBM's offerings in Business Analytics and Optimization, and CMU's work within its Center for Sensed Critical Infrastructure Research, the parties said. The lab will be a focal point and catalyst for collaboration with like-minded research colleagues from IBM Research and across CMU, including their engineering, architecture, public policy and business schools. It will also be an important resource at Carnegie Mellon University to educate and train future scientists and engineers to build smarter cities.
Lab researchers will collect and analyze massive amounts of data about the physical condition and energy efficiency of buildings, water pipelines and other infrastructure on which governments, businesses and societies depend. One research initiative will explore physical infrastructures with innovative digital sensor networks that will produce large amounts of new data, which will be acquired in real time and integrated with advanced analytical tools. The analysis will be directed to detect patterns, understand exposure to risks, and help predict outcomes of management and operational decisions with greater certainty.
"At Carnegie Mellon, we've been working for a number of years on interdisciplinary research to help better manage critical infrastructure using advanced technologies,” said James H. Garrett, Jr., the Thomas Lord professor and chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “Our goal has been to deploy a variety of sensors to collect significant amounts of new data that can be analyzed and turned into actionable information, so that people who build, maintain or manage infrastructure can do so in a more efficient and cost effective manner.
"IBM's much-appreciated support will help establish a new, state-of-the-art lab where we will be able to showcase research and technology development on our Pittsburgh campus. In addition to supporting us with technology and analytical tools, our collaboration with IBM will also enable highly valuable interactions with IBM researchers worldwide in this domain.”
Government agencies at the municipal, city, state and federal level along with businesses from diverse industry sectors will be invited to partner with the lab. Some of these partners will make data from their diverse infrastructures available to the lab, while others may provide complementary technologies or support additional research activity. The lab will also be integrated with a new Collaboration and Distance Learning Center to be located in CMU's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, where leaders can meet – either physically or virtually – to learn how smarter infrastructures can make them more competitive.
"Making the infrastructure of our cities, communities, and industries more instrumented, interconnected and intelligent can make it more sustainable from both an economic and an environmental perspective,” said Wayne Balta, vice president, corporate environmental affairs and product safety, IBM. “With Carnegie Mellon University’s renowned reputation in engineering and IBM’s leadership regarding a Smarter Planet and business analytics, this new lab can drive innovation and develop new technologies to help leaders worldwide optimize their use of finite resources.”