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IBM Turns RFID, Sensor Data Into Actions

Data collected from networked sensors on highways and across power grids can be used by governments and utilities to make decisions.
Businesses are finding lots of uses for radio-frequency identification tags, but one of the biggest problems is how to turn the data RFID tags collect into actions. IBM on Tuesday introduced software that extracts data from RFID tags and other types of sensors, and triggers business systems to react to a change or an event based on that data.

IBM sees governments and utility companies, for example, using the software to respond to events based on data collected from networked sensors used in highway traffic management, monitoring of water flow, air quality assessment, and the flow of energy across power grids, according to IBM.

The software, called WebSphere Sensor Events, uses what IBM calls business event processing technology that it got from its 2008 acquisition of privately held AptSoft Corp. of Burlington, Mass., as well as technology from WebSphere and Tivoli.

Administrators can also change the decision parameters they are using in the software to act upon the data, so they're not locked into a single way of responding to a given situation.

Data collected by the software can also be used by business intelligence systems, including IBM's Smart Analytics System and IBM Cognos software, to allow businesses or governments to better predict and react to events.

IBM is using WebSphere Sensor Events in its own data centers for sensors that track computers, switches, and backup tapes, so it can react to such changes as unauthorized movement of expensive equipment.


InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on leading-edge government IT -- and how the technology involved may end up inside your business. Download the report here (registration required).