As part of this Pace University undergraduate project, my research focuses on smarter cities and energy, and the role mobiles can play in that area. The first challenge I faced was choosing a starting point in such a wide topic. Dr. Scharff was also unsure of a specific focus and as a result we began with defining the term “environment”. This word which we have heard from as far back as we can remember has more definitions than one could imagine.
I have experience in working in the environment. In the past, I was involved in a project at Pace University’s Environmental Center on the Pleasantville Campus. With Angelo Spillo and Jim Eyrings assistance, I built a Native New York Plant garden and received my girl scout Gold Award. After looking at the Pace website, I learned about the University’s concerns for environmental issues through the initiatives of the Sustainability Committee and how this committee projects its perspectives to the Pace community. Seeing that both Jim and Angelo were on the committee, I contacted them and they invited me to the meeting. Through this experience, I had a better understanding of the various components of the environment including recycling and waste, water and lighting, transportation, dining services, purchasing, green building and landscaping, and energy reduction. Pace University has recently joined the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) with universities across the country in the race to become a greener community. This web site permits interested individuals to consult the involvement of educational institutions in becoming greener; each institutions receives either a bronze, silver, or gold rating based on categories described above. Our university currently has a bronze rating and is working towards the gold within the next year!
Smarter cities and energy is an important theme for IBM and one of their current mottos. I explored the web site of IBM in this research. IBM Smarter Planet comes to you event took place at Pace on October 11th. Pace University was one of the 39 universities chosen globally by IBM. Social media, generational changes and the increasing pressure for success throughout all industries, have influenced the way in which society obtains data and interacts with them. IBM is pushing forward the concept of an “instrumented, interconnected and intelligent” world. First, the world is instrumented and data can be collected using different tools (e.g., RFIDs and mobile phones) from anywhere and at anytime. This will permit the generation of new knowledge and aid in better decision making in order to optimize the way we live. This IBM initiative can improve the efficiency and productivity of the operations of everything from small companies to large cities. Within the Smarter Planet proposal, are specific sections dedicated to smarter cities, smarter students and smarter energy. I will use the IBM web site as a starting point to explore more on smarter energy.
My preliminary research led me to interview a manager at Con Edison to investigate what they are doing in terms of smarter energy. Following this interview, I now understand that the concept of the environment is no longer only related to nature. It is about how the latest technological trends affect our interaction with each other, with the nature, with everything that surrounds us. Rather than having traditional computers in one location, we can use mobile computing devices to interact amongst each other from anywhere, anyplace and at anytime. Data centers house internet, business and telecommunication systems and store information. This idea of “cloud computing” that we use in our everyday life (e.g., Google Gmail and YouTube) without knowing it, facilitates access and storage of data. It can potentially promote energy conservation as long as the cloud is powered using clean energy.
This year, universities located in 4 different countries including the United States, India, Senegal, and Belgium are collaborating on the 2011 Global Software Development project. Founded in 2005, this research and educational initiative has aimed towards studying the development of software by distributed teams. Focusing at first on developing specific web applications, the interest moved to the development of mobile applications. In 2010, mobile applications were developed to improve life on campus, and in 2009 a mobile application for first-grade pupils was developed. Taking this effort further, this year, the teams will build mobile solutions that will contribute to smarter cities and smarter energy. They are expected to either release them in an app store or pilot them on the field in the different involved countries. These solutions may be applications (Android, Blackberry or Java ME), mobile web sites, SMS or voice solutions. To overcome the challenge of working in a distributed setting, the IBM Rational Team Concert software (RTC) will be used throughout the development. This tool facilitates team awareness. Though the project developers are well versed in their technical role, my job is to ensure that each team composed of students distributed across different countries, has a good vision of a product. Thus, I have a marketing, product vision and research role to help them focus their ideas. Furthermore, I will provide them guidance and knowledge through my research on smarter cities and energy.