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The IBM Research Lab in Dublin is changing the way our cities work


From cognitive buildings and connected cars to holistic healthcare and more, IBM’s team of researchers are finding innovative solutions to some of the most challenging issues cities face today.

From connected cars into systems that could calculate the level of healthiness, cognitive buildings that adapt into its environments and cognitive care that could treat people into healthy living.

How a Parked Car Could Save Your Life

Conventional thinking has it that parked cars are a nuisance in cities. They clog up roadsides and require land-gobbling garages or lots. And studies show that cars spend about 95 percent of their time parked. That’s a lot of nuisance.

But what if cars were not just two tons of steel, glass and rubber that needed storage? What if they were powerful data platforms that worked together to gather and disseminate information, thereby improving citizen safety and convenience? What if cars became part of the Internet of Things, the growing system of interconnected, cloud-empowered objects?

That’s the thinking that Robert Shorten, of IBM Research – Ireland, and his connected-cars team are bringing to the streets.

“There is a huge number of cars worldwide packed full of sensors and computational power,” Shorten says. “Their location when parked is more certain than when moving and they have power supplies, so they are perfect to play an infrastructure role and to complement the needs of citizens in a city.”

Cognitive Buildings Move Us Out Of The Cave

Our phones are so smart they’ve put the world in our pockets. Cars are on the verge of having big enough brains to drive themselves. So what about where we live and work — our buildings?

“Most of them are still stuck in the Stone Age,” says IBM Research scientist Joern Ploennigs, who works at IBM Research – Ireland. “We spend 90 percent of our time in buildings, but often they’re not more intelligent than a cave. We still go home and turn up the heat manually.”

Ploennigs and his team are working on moving us out of the cave and into cognitive buildings. These smart buildings actually learn from past experience to make intelligent and timely adjustments that maximize comfort and productivity while minimizing energy usage. This latter outcome is no minor goal given that buildings eat up some 40 percent of global energy usage and contribute more than 30 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions.

Improving Healthcare for The Most Vulnerable Populations

By 2030 nearly one in five Americans will be age 65 or older. Healthcare advances mean we are living longer. That’s the good news. But our expanded golden years can come with challenges: on average, seniors see seven doctors a year and require 14 prescriptions.

It’s pretty clear that as healthcare improves, it also grows ever more complex — and beyond just the needs of seniors. The average surgery patient is now seen by some 27 different healthcare providers. And those requiring the most care also account for the most costs, with a mere five percent of the population accounting for nearly half of all medical expenditures.

But what if you could tap the power of cognitive computing to improve health services for this most vulnerable — and costly — patient population? With a system that could learn, reason and interact with people naturally, you could streamline and simplify the complexities of managing their care. At the same time, you could make sure that the right care workers always had the right patient information at the right time, with an eye toward reducing medical relapses and hospital visits.

That’s the goal of BlueLENS, a prototype system that IBM research engineer Vanessa Lopez and her team are developing.

“The system targets the high-needs, high-cost patients, who have very complex issues, with multiple providers involved in their care,” says Lopez. “Their patient data is very complicated — it comes from many sources, and providers need to have a holistic view.”

Read about how these innovations are improving life in cities every day!