Wednesday, May 29, 2024

IBM extends ?Smarter Cities Challenge? program to 2014

IBM announced recently that it is extending the ?Smarter Cities Challenge? competitive grants program, which funds the deployment of IBM’s top talent to perform pro bono problem-solving in municipalities worldwide.

The tech giant is now encouraging regional governing bodies — not only cities — to also apply for grants that will fund consultative engagements with IBM experts in 2014.

By extending the program, IBM is building on the success of Smarter Cities Challenge’s first three years, beginning in 2011. Since that time, IBM has deployed 600 experts on six-person teams who have provided strategic and practical advice to 100 municipalities.

The highly prized three-week engagements, each valued at $400,000, have helped cities address key challenges in the areas of economic development; water, energy and environment; health and social services; transportation; and public safety.

During engagements, IBM teams spend three weeks in the winning region gathering and analyzing all available data, then meeting in person with dozens of members of the government, citizen, business, and not-for-profit communities. In doing so, they gather diverse perspectives about the causes and potential solutions to the challenge at hand.

At the end of engagements, IBM presents comprehensive recommendations for solving the problem, followed weeks later by a more detailed, written implementation plan. Included in the plan are examples of how other cities have successfully addressed similar issues.

In the Philippines, Makati City received an IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grant for 2013, to be implemented in the first quarter of 2014.

The grant will provide Makati City with access to some of IBM’s top experts to analyze and recommend ways to help address the city?s traffic management issues to become an even better place in which to live and work.

Past grant recipients have implemented IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge recommendations and tangibly improved the lives of their citizens. For example:

? Cheongju, Korea invested $2.7 million to redesign bus routes, and won the national Minister’s Citation of Public Administration and Security.

? Da Nang, Vietnam and the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor are improving the coordination and timeliness of multiple municipal agencies as they manage complex events and projects.

? Eindhoven, Netherlands has reduced crime with strategies that include citizens’ use of social media.

? Edmonton, Canada has improved road safety.

? Glasgow, United Kingdom announced a new ?1 million fuel subsidy to provide affordable warmth to low-income elderly citizens. The city also won a ?24 million grant from the Technology Strategy Board.

? Jacksonville, United States has hired an economic development officer and passed legislation that streamlines city council processes for economic development.

? Ottawa, Canada is developing the neighborhoods near its light rail system by giving incentives to developers and streamlining the permit process.

? St. Louis, United States created a chief performance officer for public safety; better information about criminals is provided to judges; and voters returned control of the police department to the mayor.

? Syracuse, United States created one of New York State?s first land banks, enabling the city to reclaim nearly 4,000 vacant properties and re-purpose them in ways that revitalize neighborhoods and restore the tax base by as much as $11 million over eight years.

? Townsville, Australia earned the prestigious National Smart Infrastructure Award for the IBM / Townsville Smart Water Pilot currently underway to reduce water consumption.

? Tshwane, South Africa launched a project where citizens can report water leaks via text. The data will be used to map their water distribution network.

Smarter Cities Challenge is an elite program, having picked only 100 cities out 400 applicants over the last three years. Strong applications propose projects designed to address high priority problems of critical importance to citizens.

The city or region must be able to share detailed information to help the IBM team analyze the issue. Leaders must also guarantee face-to-face access to city, regional, civic and business stakeholders for interviews with IBM team members so that they may comprehensively assess a given problem and recommend solutions.

IBM dispatches IBMers on these engagements who hail from all over the world, and who offer skills in the areas of marketing, communications, technology, research and development, government, human resources, finance, business, legal matters and specific disciplines such as transportation, energy and health.

For the 2014 cycle, the Smarter Cities Challenge is open to local and regional, general purpose governing bodies, including cities, counties, prefectures, boroughs, and districts.

“Our Smarter Cities Challenge program can be a valuable resource especially to the new mayors and local government administrators in the country, with whom we can share successful strategies that have been put into place elsewhere,? says Agnes Africa, country manager for marketing, communications and corporate citizenship and corporate affairs at IBM Philippines.

Applications may be submitted to IBM through November 8, 2013 by visiting


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