IBM may have reached the height of opportunism with its Public Sector Energy and Environment Diagnostic consulting service and Strategic Water Information Management (SWIM) solutions platform -- two related efforts to cash in on our stressed environment. Good for IBM.

Kevin Ferguson, Contributor

March 13, 2009

2 Min Read

IBM may have reached the height of opportunism with its Public Sector Energy and Environment Diagnostic consulting service and Strategic Water Information Management (SWIM) solutions platform -- two related efforts to cash in on our stressed environment. Good for IBM.For all the science that has gone into protecting and purifying water supplies -- and it is immense -- far less has been spent on managing distribution and flow. This includes wastewater, too. If you need evidence of this, visit most any U.S. municipal water or sewer department. Many are in the process of being updated through public-private partnerships with large water and wastewater management companies, but most are woefully behind.

Whether IBM is the right vendor, I couldn't say. I only know that there is a need here.

SWIM, says IBM, is "both an information architecture and an intelligent infrastructure that enables continuous automated sensing, monitoring, and decision support for water management operations." The open platform utilizes IBM's InfoSphere, IBM Cognos Now, IBM Maximo, IBM ILOG, and IBM Deep Thunder, a service that provides local, high-resolution weather predictions customized to business applications for weather-sensitive operations up to a day ahead of time.

IBM's announcement is timely. And by that, I don't mean its proximity to World Water Week 2009. Rather, it comes on the heels of passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which includes $4 billion in U.S. EPA-administered funds for assistance to help communities with water quality and wastewater infrastructure needs and $2 billion for drinking water infrastructure needs.

The need for better water and wastewater management is real and utterly global, of course. And so is IBM's opportunity for this one.

As it pursues it, it will find an ever-more-tempestuous storm as to whether the management and maintenance of water and wastewater systems should be left to the public sector, the private sector, or a combination of the two. The storm is now rumbling over Istanbul, where the World Water Forum, the largest gathering of its kind, is set to kick off next week.

Whoever pays the tab, they'll be paying IBM and other IT vendors that are fulfilling a demand.

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