IBM’s Intelligent Operations Center (IOC) platform has always been seen (and sold) as an internal tool for making your enterprise run more efficiently. Recently, a more social side of the software platform’s capabilities has come to light.

The Waterfront Toronto Community Hub project, built from the IBM IOC platform by Element Blue, seamlessly integrates social interaction and real-time data analysis features. This very public-facing, customized site could be paving the future for social engagement and interaction built on IBM’s business-centric software platforms.

Waterfront Toronto’s frequent updates and engaging content allow for the sense of true “community” users have come to expect in our increasingly social era.

The Waterfront Toronto Community Hub project allows its community members to keep up-to-date on basic real-time information like local weather and traffic patterns, to stay informed about upcoming community events, and to engage in more nuanced activities like online conversations focused on solving community problems, such as the need for maintenance and repairs. These online conversations can be both public (i.e. citizens to local government) and private (general social chat). The end result is a community that feels literally and figuratively more connected.

Better yet, the ability to offer input on upcoming and ongoing community projects makes people feel more involved in community decision-making and consequently more satisfied with outcomes. The Toronto project is an example of how this software tool could be used to guide more focused discussions for smaller groups, such as homeowners’ associations, which are frequently mired in the time-consuming process of building consensus through traditional communication channels like phone calls and direct mail.

It’s easy to see how a platform that pushes data (such as project updates) out to people while offering more interactive components like social discussion features could also be helpful for localized efforts such as Neighborhood Watch programs. Community Hub is easy to customize, making it ideal for keeping neighbors informed about meeting schedules while allowing for postings of information about suspicious activity and issues of concern in the area.

Element Blue opted to build a public-facing interactive portal on IBM’s traditionally business-centric software in order to create a meaningful alternative to existing social sites like Facebook and Twitter, because it allows users to add components and features tailored toward their unique community needs.

The end goal is the ultimate public-facing site built on IBM’s technology that anyone in the world can view, and that creates a cutting edge, highly interactive user experience. Of course, once the technology is readily available, important questions must be answered. For example, which customers are the best fit for the technology, and who will pay for it?

Corporate campuses, which are generally abuzz with interactivity, certainly are a god fit. In this instance, Community Hub would essentially be competing in the enterprise collaboration space, but would offer more customizable functionality and features for users.

For instance, at any given time in a large corporate campus there are multiple people writing and posting blogs, sharing files and planning events. All of this can be easily tracked and managed at the community level, while at the individual level users have personal profiles that allow them to easily interact in a more engaging format. The end result is a software platform that mirrors the world we live in, where business requires more social interactivity, and social sites require more business features.


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