IBM issued Smarter Cities Challenge grants to 33 cities in the 2012 round of the three-year, $50 million program to help improve conditions in urban environments throughout the world.
In its largest philanthropic
effort ever, IBM has selected 33 cities worldwide to receive IBM Smarter Cities Challenge
grants during 2012.
Launched in 2011, this
three-year, 100-city $50 million programIBM's single-largest philanthropic
initiativefunds in-person engagements staffed by teams of top IBM experts, who
study and then make detailed recommendations addressing locally important urban
The goal of the grant
program is to improve urban life in the selected cities, IBM said. As a major
multinational corporation, IBM is big on public/private partnerships to advance
the environment and the geopolitical landscape throughout the world.
For the second year of the
IBM Smarter Cities Challenge, cities around the world once again competed
vigorously to benefit from IBM's human talent and technology. The winning
cities initiatives were for:
and workforce developmentattracting a diverse variety of jobs and industries;
bus, rail, bicycle, car and pedestrian modes of transportation;
vehicle miles traveled more precisely to help lower pollution levels;
inhaler and air quality data to identify and reduce asthma outbreaks;
data analytics to identify the most effective investments for improving an
entire school system; and
planningrevitalizing and redeveloping older neighborhoods.
Following are the cities that
earned IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grants in 2012: Accra, Ghana; Ahmedabad,
India; Atlanta; Birmingham, U.K.; Boston; Cheongju, Korea; Chonburi, Thailand;
Curitiba, Brazil; Da Nang, Vietnam; Dortmund, Germany; Durham, N.C.; Eindhoven,
Netherlands; Geraldton, Australia; Houston; Ishinomaki, Japan; Jacksonville, Fla.;
Jurong Lake District, Singapore; Louisville, Ky.; Malaga, Spain; Medellin,
Colombia; New Taipei City, Taiwan; Nanjing, China; Nairobi, Kenya; Omaha, Neb.;
Ottawa, Ontario; Pittsburgh; Pune, India; Rabat, Morocco; Rosario, Argentina;
Siracusa, Italy; Surrey, British Columbia; Tshwane, South Africa; and Toluca,
proposed projects were diverse, a common denominator was the willingness
to exchange ideas and data freely among citizens, elected officials,
nonprofits, businesses and city agencies so cities could make more informed and
collaborative decisions, IBM officials said.
To that end, IBM will
provide special assistance to each winning city on the use of City Forward, a free online site IBM
created with public policy experts. Citizens, elected officials and urban
planners can use the site to explore trends and statistics in a visual and
accessible way, which can be adapted for the examination of any number of urban
issuesleading to better decision making.
"The cities that have
been selected are all different, but they have one clear similarity: the strong
personal commitment by the city's leadership to put in place the changes needed
to help the city make smarter decisions," Stanley S. Litow, IBM vice president
of corporate citizenship and corporate affairs, and president of IBM's
Foundation, said in a statement. "These cities demonstrated a desire to
set an example for other municipalities, an eagerness to collaborate with
multiple stakeholders, and a strong commitment to consider implementing
recommendations the city felt would be the most feasible and beneficial to
In a blog post
about the success of IBMs Smarter Cities Challenge in his city, Mayor Stephen
Mandel of Edmonton, Alberta, said:
The experience has been
absolutely phenomenal for our staff. It was exciting, challenging and rewarding
for everyone involved. It enabled us, as a city, to have greater confidence in
the decisions we make each day. And I think that our citizens have seen the
difference, as well.
For instance, our work with
IBM has helped us implement a better communication plan during the winter
months, which has previously been a challenge. Now we are reaching out through
our Website and social media, making sure
Edmontonians know what to expect in real time. This has reduced frustration,
increased safety and generally made our city more accessible.
Recommendations made by IBM
to 24 first-year Smarter Cities Challenge grant recipients in 2011, and to
seven pilot cities in 2010, are already making a real impact, the company
said. For instance, as a direct result of IBM's work, the following cities
have made public policy changes or launched important new initiatives that
address longstanding issues. These include the following:
Scotland, is now subsidizing the heating bills of
some of its seniors with the proceeds of clean-energy projects.
County, N.C., has signed agreements with all
its municipalities to develop a consolidated capital budget planning process.
Louis now more systematically coordinates
efforts among agencies that touch public safety.
fine-tuned a lifetime-learning initiative
that promotes ongoing workforce development for better jobs.
Alberta, now analyzes traffic data more
rigorously to improve road safety
will partner with corporations to open five
technology schools this autumn that blend high school and community college
and which provide marketable skills
The need to use new
approaches to address civic challenges has never been greater. In 2008,
according to the United Nations, more than half the world's population began
living in cities for the first time. These population centers are more
economically powerful, politically influential and technologically advanced than
at any time in history. But they also struggle with budgetary and
IBM's Smarter Cities
Challenge is an outgrowth of IBM's Corporate Service Corps grants program, in
which IBM deploys teams of top employees to areas in the developing world to
work on projects that intersect business, technology and society. Since the
launch of Corporate Service Corps in 2008, nearly 1,400 IBM employees based in
50 countries have been dispatched on more than 140 team assignments in 24
The Smarter Cities Challenge
is sponsored by IBM's Corporate Citizenship program and IBMs International
Foundation. IBM has been a leader in corporate social responsibility and
citizenship for more than 100 years.
Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.