Can smarter networks save the planet?

Unlike many technology confabs the upcoming Brainstorm Tech event is produced by journalists with the aim of creating a conference that is an informative, lively and multifaceted as a feature article in a magazine. Fortune writers and editors always get good story ideas from Brainstorm Tech. But sometimes the conference anels and discussions evolve from stories we’ve already run in the magazine or online.

One such panel, taking place on the second afternoon of the conference, is Fear of a Dumb Planet, featuring Doug Eberhard, senior director and industry evangelist at Autodesk, Rick Hutley, Vice President Global Innovations, Cisco, and Bill Pulleyblank, Vice President, Center for Business Optimization, IBM’s Global Business Services.  The conversation owes a big debt to a story that senior editor Jeff O’Brien wrote for our annual FORTUNE 500 issue. IBM’s Grand Plan to Save the Planet is a sweeping look inside IBM’s “Smarter Planet” effort to make the world a better place by bringing intelligence to dumb networks. Jeff, who is moderating the panel at Brainstorm, acknowledges in his story that IBM’s Smarter Planet campaign is in many ways a not-so-veiled effort to secure federal stimulus money. But he also shows places where smarter networks are making a real difference in quality of life.