Congestion management and IBM

In IBM goes Green, we reported that IBM has found a new growth sector in the green sector combining its consulting and IT divisions.

“From an overall business opportunity perspective, this is absolutely huge, though I couldn’t put my finger on how big now,” said Sharon Nunes, the vice president in charge of developing the Big Green Innovations business. “I don’t think we know truthfully all the problems that are to be solved.”

“There is a demand for people to understand how to account for carbon, how to reduce energy usage, because IBM’s already done a tremendous job internally,” Davies said. “I haven’t seen too many people offering services focused on how you do this on the ground.”

Now, Thomas Friedman writes about IBM’s involvement in congestion management for big cities.

Probably the biggest green initiative coming down the road these days, literally, is congestion pricing — charging people for the right to drive into a downtown area. It is already proving to be the most effective short-term way to clean up polluted city air, promote energy efficiency and create more livable urban centers, while also providing mayors with unexpected new revenue.

But what does this have to do with I.B.M.? To make congestion pricing work, you need technology — cameras, software and algorithms that can read auto license plates as they flash by and automatically charge the driver or check whether he or she has paid the fee to enter the city center. (The data is regularly destroyed to protect privacy.) That is what I.B.M. is providing for the city of Stockholm, which, after a successful seven-month trial in which traffic dropped more than 20 percent, will move to full congestion pricing in August.


O.K., Friedman, so I.B.M. is now in the traffic biz. Who cares?

I care, because it underscores a fundamental truth about green technology: you can’t make a product greener, whether it’s a car, a refrigerator or a traffic system, without making it smarter — smarter materials, smarter software or smarter design.

A whole new area of growth is available for companies who want to start using the environmental lens.


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