At an acceptance speech at The Atlantic Council on Thursday, Sam Palmisano, IBM’s CEO, kicked off the next dimension and focus for the Smarter Planet work: Smarter Cities. Below is a full video of the speech, followed by some of my own perspective below.
I think it’s important to note some of the other recipients of the “Distinguished Leader” award handed out by The Atlantic Council that evening: General David Patraeus, former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, and former U.S. President George H. W. Bush. Nice company to be in.
The latter two recipients, Kohl And Bush, are notable not just for their prominent place in modern history, but for their role in bringing about the fall of the Berlin Wall – an historical event celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.
On that note, it is no coincidence that we will be kicking off of our Smarter City effort in full in Berlin in just five weeks by convening hundreds of leaders from cities across Europe to discuss the opportunities for making our cities smarter. I quote now from the speech:
Today, around the world, we see the infusion of intelligence into companies and entire industries, which is why you may have been hearing about “smart power grids,” “smart healthcare,” “smart supply chains” and the like.
And soon we will all be hearing about – and, I hope, living in – “smart cities.” Because these same capabilities are being applied to change the way our cities work.
In June, in Berlin, the same city that brought down the wall and rebuilt itself into a key European hub, IBM will convene a “smart cities” summit. We’ve invited hundreds of leaders from the world’s most innovative cities to share ideas and learn how we can make our cities smarter.
Well, to state the obvious – that’s where the people are. By 2050, 70 percent of people on Earth will live in cities. Which means that cities… more than states, provinces or perhaps even nations… are increasingly the central arena for success or failure.
And a city is a system – indeed, a city is a complex system of systems. All the ways in which the world works – from transportation, to energy, to healthcare, to commerce, to education, to security, to food and water and beyond – come together in our cities.
Which makes them a unique crucible for making our planet smarter. We have the potential – both technological and political – to make our cities more productive, more efficient, safer, more vibrant and more responsive. And it isn’t theoretical. We see aspects of smarter cities all around us.
Smarter traffic in Singapore, Stockholm and Brisbane… smart grids in Houston and Malta…. smart buildings in Shanghai and Boulder…. smart public safety in New York and Chicago…. a smart bay in Galway… smart healthcare in Paris… smart food tracking in Norway.
You will be hearing a lot more from us in the coming weeks and months on the challenges and opportunities for making our cities smarter. I’m personally excited for the conversations we hope to tee up on these topics – conversations leading to what would make your city smarter. And with that, I leave with with you a question, what would make your city smarter? Leave a comment below. Or let us know on Twitter. Be sure to use the #smartcity hashtag and we’ll be collecting the ideas as we continue this effort.