Local governments urged to apply for IBM Smarter Cities grant

  • Local govts can get assistance from IBM pro bono problem-solving teams
  • Applications may be submitted from now until Nov 8, 2013

Local governments urged to apply for IBM Smarter Cities grantIBM said it is extending the Smarter Cities Challenge competitive grants programme, which funds the deployment of IBM's top talent to perform pro bono problem-solving in municipalities worldwide.

The company is encouraging regional governing bodies, not only cities, to also apply for grants that will fund consultative engagements with IBM experts in 2014.
According to IBM, Malaysia's first recipient of the 2013 grant was the state of Negeri Sembilan, where a project was concluded on Oct 17.
The Smarter Cities Challenge began in 2011, and since then, IBM has deployed 600 experts on six-person teams who have provided strategic and practical advice to 100 municipalities, the company said in a statement.
These three-week engagements, each valued at US$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, IBM said.

During engagements, IBM teams spend three weeks in the winning region gathering and analysing 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.
The Smarter Cities Challenge is an elite programme, IBM cautioned, 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 analyse 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.

The IBMers dispatched on these engagements hail from all over the world, and 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.
“Effective service delivery in cities requires collaboration of so many stakeholders,” said Stanley S. Litow, IBM vice president of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs, and president of the IBM Foundation.
“One of IBM's goals with the Smarter Cities Challenge is to help city leaders gather data and organise a community around a shared set of facts. This is so that in spite of budgetary constraints that are so widespread, real progress can be made,” he said.

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

Applications may be submitted from now until Nov 8, 2013 by visiting http://www.smartercitieschallenge.org/.
A video summarising the first three years of IBM Smarter Cities Challenge can be viewed here.

Past grant recipients include:

  • Cheongju, Korea invested US$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.
  • Ottawa, Canada is developing the neighbourhoods 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.
  • 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.

The IBM Smarter Cities Challenge is an outgrowth of IBM’s Corporate Service Corps programme, a pro bono problem-solving initiative designed primarily for the developing world. Its Corporate Service Corps sends teams of some of IBM’s most talented employees with a range of skills from around the world to regions grappling with issues that intersect business, technology, and society.
The Corporate Service Corps is considered the largest programme of its kind, said IBM. By year’s end, approximately 2,400 IBM employees based in 50 countries will have been dispatched on more than 187 engagements, and undertaken 850 team assignments in 34 countries since the founding of Corporate Service Corps in 2008.

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