IBM expands its air Green Horizons initiative out of China

IBM Research today announced plans to expand its Green Horizons initiative globally.
This program is aimed to provide city governments, utility companies and factories a beter understanding, improve their relationships with the environment as well as help tackle pressing issues related to air pollution and climate change.

The new Green Horizons engagements apply IBM’s advanced machine learning and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to ingest and learn from vast amounts of Big Data, constantly self-configuring and improving in accuracy to create some of the world’s most precise and accurate energy and environmental forecasting systems.

IBM’s Green Horizons initiative is based on innovations from the company’s Research Laboratory in Beijing, with contributions from leading environmental experts across IBM’s global network of research labs.

“In the past two decades China has been at the center of global manufacturing and economic growth,” said Dr. Xiaowei Shen, Director, IBM Research China. “However, this great progress has come at a cost and today the Chinese government has placed air pollution and climate change high on the national agenda. With Chinese investments into green innovation worth billions of dollars and with a new budding generation of environmental scientists coming to the fore, China is the natural starting point for IBM’s Green Horizons initiative which is now being exported to other parts of the world.”

Right to Left: Senior Manager Dr. Yin Wenjun, Green Horizons research scientist Dr. Baoguo Xie, and Green Horizons project lead, Dr. Jinyan Shao at IBM Research-China. Photo credit: IBM
Right to Left: Senior Manager Dr. Yin Wenjun, Green Horizons research scientist Dr. Baoguo Xie, and Green Horizons project lead, Dr. Jinyan Shao at IBM Research-China. Photo credit: IBM

Now IBM has signed agreements to extend the Green Horizons initiative inside China and to start off the program in other locations around the world including India and South Africa.

The US multinational owned by Lenovo announced today as well some agreements with new company clients that will use its cognitive pollution forecast systems in China Japan, the USA and UK.

Next generation pollution forecasting and management systems

To help address the issue of air pollution (considered to be one of the greatest environmental threat to human health) IBM has developed next-generation pollution forecasting and management systems which draw on vast amounts of Big Data from environmental monitoring stations, weather stations, traffic cameras as well as meteorological and environmental satellites.

Cognitive technologies understand this data, and use it to tune a predictive model that shows where the pollution is coming from, where it will likely go, and what will be its potential effect, allowing more informed decisions about how to improve air quality. Machine learning technologies ensure that the system automatically adjusts the predictive models to different seasons and topographies.

Leader of IBM's Green Horizon initiative, Dr. Jin Dong. Photo credit: IBM
Leader of IBM’s Green Horizon initiative, Dr. Jin Dong. Photo credit: IBM

“Air pollution and climate change are global challenges that require stronger action by government and business,” said Bob Perciasepe, President of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES). “To get to a clean energy future, we need accurate data about emissions, air quality and power generation. Advanced technologies can provide crucial insights about our impacts on the environment, today and in the future.”

“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,” said Arvind Krishna, Senior Vice President and Director, IBM Research. “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.”

New agreements in China

Through its ‘Green Horizon’ initiative, IBM is currently applying its expertise in weather forecasting to air pollution management, using predictive analytics to create visual maps showing the source and dispersion of pollutants across Chinese cities.

To support China’s clean air action plan, IBM has entered a number of collaborations across China. Building on their existing relationship, IBM and the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau are launching a new Joint Environmental Innovation Center.

The new Innovation Center will provide decision support capabilities to the Beijing government.
Using scenario modelling, the government will be able to optimize its emission reduction strategy and achieve a balance between clean air and continued economic growth.

The display shows the predicted amount of renewable energy (graph right) generated by a wind farm (map left) based on current and forecast weather conditions. The close relationship between the yellow lines (forecast energy) and blue line (actual energy), illustrates the high accuracy of the system (over 90%). Photo credit: IBM
The display shows the predicted amount of renewable energy (graph right) generated by a wind farm (map left) based on current and forecast weather conditions. The close relationship between the yellow lines (forecast energy) and blue line (actual energy), illustrates the high accuracy of the system (over 90%). Photo credit: IBM

Among these measures they are included short term limitations on urban traffic and construction activity as well as long term improvements to industrial production and power generation – such as switching to cleaner energy sources and installing filtering systems.

The Beijing EPB also uses a colored alert system to warn citizens when harmful levels of pollution are forecast for the coming days. Selective, temporary reductions in industrial activity are also considered for large scale events such as the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Additional clean air projects will be started off in China. Among them: one with the Environmental Protection Bureau in Baoding (one of China’s most polluted cities) to support the city’s environmental transformation; another one with the city of Zhangjiakou (host to the 2022 Winter Olympics) to improve air quality for the outdoor sporting event; and a third program with Xinjiang Province in north-west China.

IBM Research is working in Baoding with the local Environmental Protection Bureau and environmental service provider Encanwell to improve the air quality. Pollution source tracking analyzes current emissions and prevailing weather patterns to identify the likely origin of pollution.

On the increase of renewable energy sources side, IBM has also signed some agreements with new customers in the Asian country.

BM is working with China’s largest wind power solution provider, Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co., Ltd, to use IoT, cloud computing, big data analytics and other advanced technologies to drive innovation and transform Goldwind’s business and technological models. Also in China, Shenyang Keywind Renewable Company is using cognitive forecasting technologies to help integrate more energy into the grid.

The Zhangbei Demonstration Project, managed by China’s State Grid Jibei Electricity Power Company, is tapping the power of Green Horizons renewable energy forecasting technology to integrate 10% more alternative energy into the national grid, enough to power more than 14,000 homes.

“Our environmental engineers are working on a daily basis to tackle Beijing’s complex and challenging pollution problem and protect the health of citizens,” said Dawei Zhang, Director of Beijing’s Environmental Monitoring Center, a department of the BEPB. “Through our collaboration with IBM Research China, we are delivering on our environmental commitments with the help of some of the most advanced technologies available. Over the past year we made good progress and the joint innovation with IBM is one of the key driving forces behind it.”

New agreements around the world

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

The pilot program with the City of Johannesburg and South Africa’s Council of Scientific and Industrial Research is aimed 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.

IBM Green Horizons research scientist Dr. Baoguo Xie in front of the Green Horizons Project overview panels. Photo credit: IBM
IBM Green Horizons research scientist Dr. Baoguo Xie in front of the Green Horizons Project overview panels. Photo credit: IBM

The Green Horizons program is helping to increase contributions of wind, solar and other renewable energy sources in national grids under some new customer engagements.

The British energy giant SSE is piloting IBM technology to help forecast power generation at its wind farms in Great Britain.

In Japan, IBM is working with the Toyo Engineering Corporation and renewable energy company Setouchi Future Creations LLC on the Setouchi solar project (one of the largest in the country). IBM’s monitoring systems will help Setouchi manage and control energy from the plant’s 890,000 solar panels.

The United States Department of Energy’s SunShot initiative, IBM is making renewable energy forecasting technology available to government agencies, utilities and grid operators across the whole country to support supply and demand planning.

70 year old Research arm by IBM

Curently in its 70th year, IBM Research continues to define the future of information technology with more than 3,000 researchers in 12 labs located across six continents. Scientists from IBM Research have produced six Nobel Laureates, 10 U.S. National Medals of Technology, five U.S. National Medals of Science, six Turing Awards, 19 inductees in the National Academy of Sciences and 14 inductees into the U.S. National Inventors Hall of Fame – the most of any company.

Image over the headline.- Xiaowei Shen, Director, IBM Research China. Photo credit IBM

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