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Computers Bring Efficiency to the Infrastructure

By The New York Times

April 30, 2009

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Low-cost sensors, clever software, and computing firepower are key ingredients of an emerging computing trend called smart infrastructure — efficient and environmentally friendly systems that manage commuter traffic, food distribution, electric grids and other complex systems. Raw data becomes useful knowledge for computers to become intelligent instruments of control, monitoring and optimizing systems with an efficiency payoff that should translate into big reductions in energy used, greenhouse gases emitted and natural resources consumed, experts say. "We are entering a new phase of computing, in which computers will be interacting with the physical world as never before," said Edward Lazowska, a professor of computer science at the University of Washington.

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