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Smart people making a 'Smarter Planet'

2009: Volume 3, Article 1

Meet five IBMers who help the world work better

IBM is filled with smart people, each of whom are actively involved in helping industries around the world do something better, more efficiently and more productively. In this new installment of "IBMers in Action," meet five more IBMers who are building a "Smarter Planet" in their own unique ways.

Domenico, Italy: Giving railway passengers what they want

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Today's highly competitive environment is a drastic change for railway organizations used to being monolithic government entities. And Domenico has seen many of these changes because he's been involved in the passenger rail industry since 1992.

Domenico knows that to be competitive, railways will have to be more aware of what their passengers want. For example, they want to receive information about train delays through their mobile devices. When they're onboard, passengers want access to the Internet so they can read their e-mail and do other work all the way to their destinations.

To provide these types of services requires networked intelligence that is aware of what is happening across the rail ecosystem - the cars, the locomotives, the stations. It requires that subsystems share information across the enterprise, and between many different stakeholders, including the rail company, shipper, car owner, municipalities and customers.

Domenico reminds us that a smarter railroad will not be built overnight. It will require bold steps, sizeable investments and the will to truly transform an industry that's been around a long time. He feels that never before has more affordable, applicable and proven technology been available. With this kind of passion for bringing innovation to a once-coal-driven industry, Domenico is far from running out of steam.

For more information on how IBM is making railways better, see the right sidebar.

Tomasz, Poland: Improving national security

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The world is having an identity crisis.

Tomasz knows that. He's helping clients know when people are not who they say they are. In Poland, Tomasz worked with the Polish National Police to improve operations and reduce error rates by taking their old paper- and radio-based visa and identification system from the Dark Age to the digital age.

Ten thousand police, who used to walk around with paper and radios, now link in via mobile devices to a connected database that gives them immediate access to identification information.

Working with IBM's business partners, Tomasz integrated IBM System x and Tivoli software to help provide Polish police with direct access to a visa information database that enables them to check the identities and visa status of people entering Poland.

Prior to this smart system it took much longer to establish the identities of people, as well as vehicle registrations crossing the border, using their old radio-query system. Now, vehicles registered in the European Union (EU) can be queried in the "wanted vehicles" database, and visa status can be obtained immediately for individuals from non-EU countries.

Smart idea. Turning paper into bytes and Poland's police department into high tech crime fighters.

For more on IBM's vision to make public safety smarter, see the right sidebar.

Ananda, India: Helping Ghanaian businesses operate smarter

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Ananda was looking forward to getting first-hand knowledge of emerging markets in West Africa, specifically Ghana, before leaving for his IBM Corporate Service Corps (CSC) volunteer assignment. He wound up getting a lot more than he expected from the experience.

Ananda was part of an eight member team assigned to the Association of Ghana Industries to assist two companies, Multiwall Paper Sack and West-West Agro Processing, with operation and organizational strategy.

Ananda worked with his clients specifically to reorganize their working capital strategy, optimize their supply chain, and create an organizational structure that could improve sales, reduce costs and establish a governance mechanism. He did this all with no pre-defined scope of work for the assignment.

"It might sound funny, but next to missing my daughter, my wife and my native food, I actually missed the processes that IBM utilizes to run its operations," says Ananda. "This was because everything about the situation, and the work involved, was completely ad-hoc."

"It was one heck of a learning experience," says Ananda. So much so, that it gave him the confidence to take on a new position at IBM as a senior IA (Information Agenda) consultant at IBM Malaysia. He now uses his newly found skills to help clients utilize information systems to deliver budgeting and planning, management information reporting and more.

See more IBMer experiences in Ghana in the right sidebar.

Brian, USA: Showcasing IBM technology

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Brian works in a shared workspace - his desk is in a trailer behind the scenes at the French Open, or the "Roland Garros" as the French call it, one of the world's largest tennis tournaments. He is part of a team of more than 50 IBMers from various parts of the world who are totally dedicated to ensuring that the IBM solution for the tournament is working properly.

From an outsider's point of view, the French Open might just look like a branding opportunity for IBM. But behind the scenes IBMers like Brian are showcasing the company's total end-to-end solution, from court-side tournament data, to data feeds for the official Internet site. Brian is front and center in the effort. "Being the technical webmaster in charge of end-to-end delivery with 100 percent availability, and with IBM's name on the line, you want everything to be perfect," he says.

"I've been doing this for more than nine years, and I still get excited when I see clients begin to realize the ways that they can make IBM technology, such as what's done here at the Open, work for them in their business," says Brian. "I love doing this job, and the places I get to work," he adds.

Learn more about IBM at the French Open. See links on the right.

Michal, Israel: Cracking the disease code

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With the right model, Michal and her colleagues from the Haifa Research Lab in Israel could crack any code. Even if the code happens to be one of the most pressing health issues of our time: HIV.

Antiretroviral drug therapy combinations have increased the average life expectancy for people diagnosed with HIV by 13 years. That's good. What's even better? Michal has found a way to help physicians make smarter decisions about which therapy combinations or 'cocktails' will work for a specific patient. Her work with European partners means doctors can access an online prediction engine that tells them which treatment has the best chances of success for their patient.

The prediction models of the Haifa team tap into a wealth of information amassed in Europe's largest database of HIV information. Tying this complex picture of blood tests, demographic information, and patient history to the outcome of clinical therapies seemed almost impossible at first - but Michal and her teammates did it. They started off with genomic data and ended up with a decision support system. Michal is confident that similar progress can be made for other chronic diseases.

That's smarter healthcare. For more details on IBM's healthcare agenda, see right sidebar.

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