SOUTH BEND -- City leaders turned to new technology and private-sector partners a few years ago to reduce the amount of sewage that ends up in the St. Joseph River.
They worked with University of Notre Dame engineers and scientists who designed a network of sensors to monitor and control flow inside the city's sewer pipes, and formed Emnet, a startup company that commercialized the network as CSOnet.
All in all, the city spent $6 million to achieve what would have cost $120 million through conventional solutions.
Now, South Bend has become the first city in the world to manage its sewer system in the cloud -- which means over the Internet on a remote server instead of with in-house software.
The city will pay $210,000 annually to use the IBM Intelligent Operations Center for Smarter Cities software-as-a-service, but it won't require any additional city personnel to operate it.
Gary Gilot, a member of the city's Board of Public Works, said the IOC also could help city workers share data across departments and use that information to make decisions.
For example, he said police might be able to use code enforcement data about vacant houses and the water department's data about service that has been shut off because of unpaid bills to predict the probability of illegal dumping, graffiti or other crimes occurring in an area.
"You can start to anticipate and be proactive and improve communication across the silos of city government," Gilot said. "We were swimming in data, data overload, but not good information to make decisions with. That's where IOC comes in."
Notre Dame also will have free access to the IOC to collaborate with the city and IBM on academic and research pursuits, such as identifying indicators in city department data that could be used to reduce crime or improve traffic flow.
Staff writer Kevin Allen: