IBM to scale up big data environment programme

Global IT corporation IBM has announced plans to expand its Green Horizons programme which uses big data to help cities and companies make informed environmental decisions.

The announcement comes after a year-long pilot project with the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau (EPB), which saw IBM generate high-resolution air quality forecasts up to 72 hours in advance.

The system also models and predicts the effects of weather on the flow and dispersal of pollutants as well as the airborne chemical reactions between weather and pollutant particles.

IBM says the system helped the Beijing authorities reduce the level of ultra-fine Particulate Matter in the atmosphere by 20%.

Following the success of the project, IBM is rolling out its forecasting technologies to a number of new projects around the world, including:

  • An agreement with the Delhi Dialogue Commission to understand the correlation between traffic patterns and air pollution in India’s capital and provide the government with ‘what if’ scenario modelling to support more informed decision-making for cleaner air.


  • A pilot program with the City of Johannesburg to model air pollution trends and quantify the effectiveness of the city’s intervention programs in support of Johannesburg’s air quality targets and long-term sustainable development.


  • UK energy giant SSE is piloting IBM technology to help forecast power generation at its wind farms in Great Britain. The system is able to forecast energy for individual turbines and includes visualization tools to show expected performance several days ahead.


IBM research senior vice president Arvind Krishna said: “Even as society is looking to address some of the biggest challenges of our generation — environmental degradation and climate change — two game-changing technologies have emerged that are completely transforming our understanding of the world in which we live,”

“With Green Horizons, we are applying the most advanced cognitive computing and IoT technologies, combined with world-class analytics, to enable forward-looking government and business leaders in their efforts to make better decisions that can help safeguard the health of citizens today while helping to protect the long-term health of the planet.” 

The use of big data is emerging as a key differentiator in successful sustainability projects, according to recent analysis from consultancy Lux Research.

Brad Allen

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