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Home > By DEPARTMENTS > Leadership and Governance for Sustainability > Change Management at Governance Level

What Is Your Smart Infrastructure Play?

Managing change starts with good information and ends with smarter solutions. The technology is catching up with the need to conserve resources and meet job demands.

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We are all able to spot stupid waste. That's a given, but finding a solution that is system-wide is another story. We knew that printing millions of content-dated books was a waste...but it wasn't until the Internet became a widely distributed system that we had the technology -- the Internet with Web-pages and Search engines -- that publishing time sensitive content became "not so wasteful".

The same is happening with other infrastructures in our modern communities. Beyond the low hanging fruit of our information infrastructure, we have energy, water, food and healthcare systems that need to have systems of technology and standards applied for broad distribution.

"In the mid-1990s, the Internet took off because its technological time had come. Years of steady progress in developing more powerful and less expensive computers, Web software and faster communications links finally came together.

A similar pattern is emerging today, experts say, for what is being called smart infrastructure -- more efficient and environmentally friendlier systems for managing, among other things, commuter traffic, food distribution, electric grids and waterways. This time, the crucial technological ingredients include low-cost sensors and clever software for analytics and visualization, as well as computing firepower." Steve Lohr reports for the New York Times April 29, 2009.

Smart Infrastructure

From distributed energy cogeneration at the "raw materials" stage through the distribution pipes, wires and transmission waves -- to the end user, there has been a quiet revolution happening in the areas of sensors, monitors and controllers.

The question for your future is "How can you weave these new features into your products and services to make them smarter?"

Part of the challenge is the sheer complexity of life and the decisions we have to make on a minute by minute basis. But the reality is that people don't like change, and they won't readily adopt new habits such as turning off the lights. In comes sensors and controllers.

Complex systems need to reroute themselves as monitor systems sense and analyze rapidly fluctuating flows -- such as water or electricity. These adjustments can be programmed for 24/7 responses to cut down on the hyper-observant skills human workers would need to apply. And there seems to be a shortage of technically trained workers these days.

We are entering another wave of anomalies in the workplace. Jobs are being automated with sensors and controllers. But we need more technically capable installers who will install and maintain these complex systems.

Jobs are shifting. Products are morphing. Systems are getting more complex.

How will your product line adapt?

Get Your Team Involved in Smarter Innovation

Use this question, "How can our product line adapt to a smart infrastructure marketplace?" as a prompt for your employees, partners, and supply chain to help you envision where your innovation roadmap needs to go. You might be surprised with the diversity of ideas and opportunities that can bubble up through your own smarter infrastructure of innovation!

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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