ARMONK, N.Y. – 20 Jul 2017: IBM’s (NYSE: IBM) Smarter Cities Challenge program (@CitiesChallenge) will be sending teams of company experts to five municipalities through 2018 to provide pro bono consultative advice on issues such as affordable housing, economic development, immigration, and public safety.
The five recipients – Busan, Korea; Palermo, Italy; San Isidro, Argentina; San Jose, USA; and Yamagata City, Japan — were selected from a highly competitive pool of more than 100 cities around the world that applied for a grant of consulting services from IBM.
Since 2010, IBM’s citizenship arm has made such Smarter Cities Challenge grants to more than 130 cities worldwide chosen from more than 600 applicants, with nearly 800 of IBM’s top experts delivering pro bono services valued at more than USD $68 million. Each consulting engagement has a commercial value of USD $500,000.
For the upcoming pro bono consultative engagements, IBM may use Watson’s cognitive analytics capabilities to identify and understand city data such as transportation patterns or public health trends. Or, natural and human-influenced meteorological events may be parsed, taken from the world’s largest weather data sets, recorded by The Weather Company, an IBM Business. Analysis of such information may help inform IBM’s recommendation to city stakeholders to address their local challenges.
Here’s how a typical Smarter Cities Challenge engagement works: After intense preparation, IBM Smarter Cities Challenge teams, comprising six IBM experts, spend three weeks working closely with city staff in each winning city, analyzing data about a critical issue facing the municipality. Team members consider diverse perspectives on the topic through meeting with local officials, citizens, businesses, and not-for-profits. Best practices used by other cities are studied. After working closely with city leadership, the IBM team then recommends innovative and specifically tailored ways to address the issue.
Smarter Cities Challenge engagements have helped cities around the world to significantly improve the quality of life for their residents. Projects informed by IBM advice have helped to upgrade skills of city staff, enabled cities to win prestigious awards, and made them more competitive. Here are some of the results achieved to date:
- Memphis, USA and IBM worked to successfully design a plan for decreasing demand and improving response time for emergency health services, and for improving long term healthcare, particularly for the city’s most vulnerable citizens.
- Pingtung County, Taiwan won the 2015 Energy Smart Communities Initiative Best Practices Award from among 200 submissions across Asia Pacific for its implementation of a smart microgrid, based on its Smarter Cities Challenge recommendations.
- Dublin, Ireland worked with IBM to assess the feasibility of adopting solar power, and successfully installed solar panels on the roofs of nearly all city government buildings.
- Porto Alegre, Brazil created Digital PoA to facilitate online dialogue between citizens and city officials to identify priorities and shape the municipal budget. In one outcome, public transportation routes were adjusted to help underserved residents better access health services.
- Pyeongchang County, South Korea, host of the 2018 Olympics, is developing and promoting new tourism opportunities that extend beyond its ski areas to the natural beauty in the southern part of the county. This will help close a socioeconomic gap and lay the foundation for a stronger tourism industry beyond the Winter Games.
- Syracuse, USA, used its Smarter Cities Challenge insights to identify neighborhoods that were at risk of increased home vacancies, then apply resources to stabilize the community and tax base.
- Townsville, Australia earned the prestigious National Smart Infrastructure Award for a pilot program to reduce water consumption.
Jennifer Ryan Crozier, IBM’s Vice President of Corporate Citizenship & President of the IBM Foundation, congratulated the winners, saying, “Over the last seven years, we have seen strong applications from more than 800 cities around the world who have proposed ways that IBM’s talent and technology could help them to address their toughest issues, but 2017 really stood out. We congratulate this year’s winners and look forward to collaborating with each of them on the Smarter Cities Challenge.”
Follow all of IBM’s citizenship initiatives by visiting the CitizenIBM blog at www.citizenIBM.comand on Twitter, at @citizenIBM. For more information about IBM citizenship, please visit www.ibm.com/ibm/responsibility