Roads to Smarter Cities

Colin Harrison

IBM Corporation, Armonk, New York, USA


This chapter describes how IBM's business and technical leadership teams drew insight from the collapse of the Internet bubble in 1999–2000 and came to realize that the information technology (IT) industry had shifted to a new conceptual phase. In this new phase, the ready availability of information on a wide variety of real-world activities, combined with network access and semantic integration, and online, near-real-time analyses, leads to a new point of view that IBM came to call the Smarter Planet concept. Within the Smarter Planet concept, the Smarter Cities initiative emerged as a particular case, growing out of earlier work on large-scale sensing and actuator systems. The chapter explains how IBM's understanding evolved to lead to these end results.

4.1 Introduction

The turn of the last (twentieth) century appeared to some as a very dark period for the information technology (IT) industry. From 1994 through 1999, the industry had seen enormous growth—growth of the Internet; growth of the World Wide Web; growth of mobile, portable devices; growth of networking; and growth in the integration of IT systems within and among enterprises. Then came the rapid collapse of the Internet bubble during 1999–2000. Some observers believed that this was a temporary, cyclical correction, and that things would soon return to “normal.” Others, however, believed that the industry was entering a period ...

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