Tuesday, June 14, 2011

IBM100 Celebration of Service: IBMers take to the streets to improve waterways in San Jose

To mark IBM's Centennial, hundreds of thousands of IBMers worldwide will participate in a Celebration of Service Day, slated for June 15 - the last day of IBM's 99th year. In San Jose, teams from IBM Research - Almaden are contributing volunteer hours to the city's watershed protection agency by going out to creeks and streams all over the region and reporting on water conditions. Back at the lab, research teams are applying their knowledge and expertise to help the agency glean better insights from their data, through the creation of a new database as well as leveraging a smarter cities model developed here at IBM Research - Almaden to better understand how water affects other city services.

Using the Creek Watch iPhone application developed by computer scientists at Almaden and water monitoring kits provided by the City of San Jose Water Board, at least 100 IBMers will take to the streets to snap pictures of waterways to upload to a central database and submit information about water flow, trash and water levels. Meanwhile, teams of IBMers from the services research, storage and computer science areas at Almaden will contribute data analysis solutions and business models that the city can use to easily aggregate useful information and apply programs where they are needed the most.

IBMers at Almaden will contribute in the following ways:

Android-version of Creek Watch application
  • To broaden the number of volunteers that can use the application to contribute data about their local water shed, an Android version of Creek Watch will be available to IBMers on June 15 (an official version will be perfected for the Android market later this year). A software group out of IBM Korea is helping develop this for a similar project in their region, while also using the day as a means to teach kids about environmental protection.
Transformational Data Warehouse
  • The City of San Jose water authorities have been struggling with how to manage all the creek status data collected by individual storm water programs. The data comes in in many different formats -- even in paper. They need to convert the data into a standardized form and consolidate into a regional warehouse database, which would then be reported to the Water Board. IBM Research - Almaden's computer science team will build a pilot solution for the city.
Social Media Analytics
  • Leverage IBM social media research in analyzing the general public's view on water-related topics
  • Suggest effective ways of using social media to maximize the impact of community outreach
  • Use DeepQA technologies to develop interactive, engaging knowledge system
Business Model Analytics
  • Leverage IBM business modeling and analytics research in analyzing and improving the multi-stakeholder Sanitary System Overflow processes
  • Identify gaps in existing key performance indicators and develop new metrics to measure hard-to-measure things (e.g. amount of trash dumped in the creek)
  • Analyze and explore existing data for trends, relationships, abnormalities, and more
Good Old-Fashioned Volunteering
  • Teams will be disbursed to locations where the water board has little or no data to collect water samples, clean up trash and collect data using Creek Watch.
From IBM's beginning, it's founder Thomas Watson believed that business had a societal responsibility, expanding upon the belief that the sole purpose of a corporation was to serve the interests of its shareholders. Now nearly 100 years later, the world will receive millions of hours of service from IBMers.

Photo Captions:

Top: IBM Research - Almaden lab director and vice president Josephine Cheng collecting water samples from Fisher Creek for the Centennial Celebration of Service
Middle: IBM Distinguished Engineer Jane Xu with IBM Research computer scientist in public health research, Stefan Edlund
Bottom: Stefan Edlund, Josephine Cheng and Jane Xu at Coyote Creek collecting water samples for the City of San Jose on IBM's Day of Service

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