The Foreign Secretary, Rt Hon David Miliband, visits IBM Hursley, to see how "IBM is a pioneering company in terms of its innovation".

Hursley, UK - 23 Feb 2009: The Foreign Secretary, Rt Hon David Miliband, visited IBM Hursley, near Winchester, the largest software development laboratory in Europe and part of IBM's globally integrated research and development function.

Addressing the press, the Foreign Secretary explained how companies such as IBM have taken steps to survive the economic downturn. He said:"IBM is a pioneering company in terms of its innovation which will help it survive the economic downturn and help it be ready for the upturn when in comes".

After a brief tour of the state-of-the art facility when he met IBM Masters Inventors and Emerging Technology Specialists, the Foreign Secretary participated in an informal roundtable discussion with senior representatives from a range of locally based multi-national companies.  This gave the Foreign Secretary an opportunity to discuss the challenges businesses are facing and the steps that the Government is taking to support UK businesses through the current economic climate.

"The current economic climate offers an opportunity to embed efficiencies into our current systems for the future. We now have the ability to make smarter decisions as it is possible to infuse intelligence into the systems and processes upon which the country literally works," said John McLean, IBM Hursley Lab Director and Vice President of WebSphere Connectivity Development. "We all have a responsibility to create these conditions and this can only be achieved through shared vision and collaboration between government and business," he continued.

During his tour of the IBM Innovation Centre, the Foreign Secretary was shown how numerous strands of retail innovation, from computerised ink, to smart sensors, and handheld information scanners can come together to create the shop of the future. For example, smart sensors allow consumers to be better able to understand the history, origins and distances travelled by the goods on the shelf, allowing more informed decisions based on purchasing preference. Real-time price change developments that automate price reduction offers on all items - even those already in people's trolleys - enable staff to spend more time with customers improving their shopping experience, rather than having to manage the re-labelling of thousands of items or shelf edges. Hand-held information scanners that can share even more information in a multi-media format on the products on offer, such as showing a preview of the DVD you are looking at before you decide to buy it, again better inform consumers and make them aware of a wealth of relevant offers.

A group of IBM developers are also involved in exploring solutions for smarter transportation.  The technology to track vehicles has been available for many years, but through innovative application development the technology is being incorporated into Web 2.0 and even twitter, meaning users can retrieve transport information from any internet enabled device, such as a phone. At Hursley, the technology has been applied to a minibus tracking system and is encouraging more people to use the bus as they know exactly where it is and what time it will arrive, so they don't have to waste time waiting.

Allowing people to make smart decisions about energy consumption is the focus of another group who have developed simple 'java mashup'  programmes that allow users to see their home energy consumption.  In a proof of concept project with home energy monitor company Current Cost, the energy consumption of more than 50 IBM employees, based at IBM Hursley, is being tracked and reported in a visual manner in real time.  This is ideal for businesses, housing associations etc.... in fact anyone who wants to monitor and influence energy usage. Additionally, historical consumption patterns can be analysed and charted to further inform and change behaviour.

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For more information and examples of a smarter planet visit:

Further smarter planet examples:
Consider how much energy we waste: According to published reports, the losses of electrical energy due to inefficient grid systems range from 40 to 70 percent around the world. That's an overall average of 381 kilowatt hours lost per person per year.  In Malta the National Electricity and Water Utilities selected IBM for a 70 million euro, five-year agreement to design and deliver a nationwide Smart Grid implementation. The system will enable customers to have sophisticated analysis of consumption patterns enabling a real-time view of energy use and to identify opportunities for reduction, estimated accounts will be eliminated and customers will pay only for what they actually use.

Consider how gridlocked and polluted our cities are: The total number of vehicles on the UK's roads is approximately 31 million.  Smarter traffic systems will be the new milestone of progress in the 21st century. IBM is working with cities such as London, Stockholm, Singapore and Brisbane to better manage congestion and pollution.  These initiatives range from traffic prediction and modelling to smart, dynamic tolling systems.  Already in Stockholm, congestion has been reduced by 25%, pollution has been reduced by anywhere from 8 - 40% depending on what kind of emission is being measured.

Think about our food supply chains: In the UK, our food travels an amazing 30 billion kilometres each year, including imports by boat, air and transport by lorries and cars. This UK food transport is responsible for adding nearly 19 million tonnes of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere each year. ( Fortunately, a smarter global food system — one that is more connected, instrumented and intelligent — is at hand. For example, IBM is collaborating with some of the world’s leading retailers and manufacturers to create software solutions that can more efficiently integrate product demand with supply replacements, and help dramatically cut time, cost, waste and out-of-stock conditions.

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Photo of the Foreign Secretary at IBM retail demo.

Photo of John McLean and the Foreign Secretary

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