According to the Times, IBM's CEO Samuel Palisano will give a much-anticipated speech at the Council on Foreign Relations today on how to restart the economy by applying high-tech intelligence to challenges in energy, transportation, food, water, even health care.
Fast Company had a preview of some of these plans in our October issue in my piece "Attack of the Green Tech Geeks." In a previously unpublished part of the interview, Corporate Director of Earth, Air, Fire, and Wind Colin Harrison used water as an example of where intelligent management can expand capacity. "In the US alone there are over 60,000 water utilities. Every little village has its own pump and its own water processing station. With pervasive capabilities to connect, analyze, and model you can bring ERP [Enterprise Resource Planning] to areas like water management that have not really invested in it in the past." In other words, IBM is proposing to provide the same kind of "just-in-time" insight that Walmart has built into its supply chain to the delivery of the world's most precious resource.
Palisano has compared the scale of these initiatives to the New Deal's massive rural electrification efforts under the Tennessee Valley Authority and to Eisenhower's construction of the national highway system. It's hard not to get excited about the application of what America does best--innovation and technology--to the economic and environmental problems that threaten not only the US, but the world.