City of Rio de Janeiro and IBM Collaborate to Advance Emergency Response System; Access to Real-Time Information Empowers Citizens

Increased Integration Across Agencies and Predictive Analytics Capabilities Reduce Emergency Response Time to City Incidents

Rio de Janeiro - 09 Nov 2011: Nearly a year since inaugurating its city operations center, Rio de Janeiro is working with IBM (NYSE: IBM) to add new capabilities to further improve the city’s emergency response system, and give citizens access to information that will help them better manage their daily lives.

The new automated alert system will notify city officials and emergency personnel when changes occur in the flood and landslide forecast for the city of Rio de Janeiro. As opposed to a previous system in which notifications were manually relayed, the new alert system is expected to drastically reduce the reaction times to emergency situations by using instantaneous mobile communications, including automated email notifications and instant messaging, to reach emergency personnel and citizens. 

Details of the expanded capabilities were revealed today at SmarterCities Rio, a two-day forum hosted by IBM Chairman, President and CEO Samuel J. Palmisano. With a special focus on Latin America and the world's growth markets, the forum convenes forward-thinking government and business leaders to examine real-world approaches on how cities can tackle serious urban issues and improve the quality of life of their citizens. 

Since opening less than a year ago, the Rio Operations Center has integrated information and processes from across 30 different city agencies into a single operations center that provides a holistic view of how the city is functioning on a 24 by 7 basis. The Operations Center serves as the nerve center for the city, applying analytical models developed by IBM to more effectively predict and coordinate reaction to emergency incidents. (View a video of the Rio Operations Center here.) 

Operations officials from across the city now collaborate daily to manage the movement of traffic and public transportation systems, and the efficiency of power and water supplies. The Center also relies on a system pioneered by IBM Research scientists -- a high-resolution weather forecasting and hydrological modeling system for Rio de Janeiro, which can predict heavy rains up to 48 hours in advance. The forecasting system is based on a unified mathematical model of Rio that pulls data from the river basin, topographic surveys, the municipality's historical rainfall logs, and radar feeds. The system predicts rain and possible flash floods, and has also begun to evaluate the effects of weather incidents on other city situations such as city traffic or power outages. 

“In Rio de Janeiro, we are applying technology to benefit the population and effectively transitioning to a smarter city,” said Mayor of Rio de Janeiro Eduardo Paes. “In addition to using all information available for municipal management, we share that data with the population on mobile devices and social networks, so as to empower them with initiatives that can contribute to an improved flow of city operations.” 

The new alert system, developed by IBM’s Software Labs, can track the receipt of messages to ensure response is immediate and effective. Because responses to each emergency are tracked from start to finish, the alert system also provides a wealth of data available for analysis after the fact. Responders can use this data to improve their system settings and operational procedures, further improving response time and coordination. 

Another benefit Rio citizens can enjoy today is access to daily data feeds from the Rio Operations Center. The Center’s profile on Facebook and Twitter provide frequent updates on

weather and traffic, as well as recommended alternative routes around the city on days of special events including concerts, soccer matches and festivals. 

Citizens can follow the Rio Operations Center updates on Twitter @OperacoesRio and Facebook at Centro de Operações Rio. 

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IBM Chairman, President and CEO Samuel J. Palmisano (left), and IBM Senior Vice President and incoming President and CEO Ginni Rometty (right), receive a key to the city of Rio de Janeiro from mayor Eduardo Paes. IBM became the first corporation to receive the honor following the successful launch of the Rio Operations Center. IBM is hosting its Smarter Cities Forum in Rio today to help government and business leaders learn how to tackle the challenge of mass urbanization

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