IBM named recipients of its Smarter Cities Challenge for 2014, a competitive grant program that sends teams of some of IBM’s most talented experts to select cities and regions worldwide to provide expertise on the most critical issues faced by communities today.
IBM teams invest months studying a local issue chosen by a winning municipality. They then spend three weeks on the ground in the region gathering and analyzing all relevant data and reports, while meeting in person with dozens of members of the government, citizen, business, and not-for-profit communities.
At the conclusion of these studies, IBM presents comprehensive recommendations for addressing the issue in line with recognized “best practices.” This is followed weeks later by a more detailed, written plan for its implementation.
Given that effective local governance today relies on the coordination of multiple municipalities, IBM made regional governments eligible for the grant program this year, not just cities. With the previous participation of 100 cities, the Smarter Cities Challenge program now also offers winning municipalities access to fellow leaders with whom to consult on similar issues.
IBM will work with municipalities this year that seek its input on projects such as the following:
- Improving transportation options by connecting roads, bikepaths, sidewalks and rails
- Protecting the environment with better water quality
- Collecting revenue, lowering costs and managing budgets more efficiently
- Leveraging local industries and natural resources for tourism and economic development
- Making more nutritious and affordable food available in urban neighborhoods
- Harnessing the sun and converting waste products into electrical energy
- Preserving public safety during dangerous weather and man made events
- Decreasing high crime impacts in blighted neighborhoods
Following are cities and regions that IBM is today announcing as winners of the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grants for 2014:
- Abuja, Nigeria
- Ballarat, Australia
- Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States
- Birmingham, Alabama, United States
- Brussels, Belgium
- Dallas, Texas, United States
- Dublin, Ireland
- Durban, South Africa
- Jinan, China
- Mombasa County, Kenya
- Niigata, Japan
- Perth, Australia
- Suffolk County, New York, United States
- Tainan, Taiwan
- Vilnius, Lithuania
- Zapopan, Mexico
Smarter Cities Challenge is an elite program, having picked only 116 municipalities out of more than 500 applicants over the last four application cycles. 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 diverse perspectives and 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.
Jennifer Crozier, IBM’s vice president of Global Citizenship Initiatives, and whose team directs the Smarter Cities Challenge, said, “Congratulations to all of the cities and regional governments that have secured IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grants for 2014. If history is any guide, these municipalities can look forward to tapping a treasure trove of skills and knowledge from some of IBM’s best and brightest. By collaborating with our experts, local governments will be receiving valuable counsel that could very well influence the success of issues that are foremost on the local agenda. We hope to be a useful resource to the winning cities and regions and be a catalyst for progress.”