by Jennifer Crozier, Director of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs at IBM
As IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge opens its second annual call for applications, we renew our commitment to helping cities around the world manage their toughest challenges and provide better lives for their inhabitants. With more than half of the world’s population now living in cities, our work with urban leaders and communities has never been more relevant.
The IBM Smarter Cities Challenge is a three-year, 100-city, US$50 million grant program through which our top technical experts and consultants provide actionable advice to urban centers. In just the first year, IBM experts have helped such diverse areas as:
- The cities and towns of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina in their creation of a common capital budget planning process;
- Edmonton, Alberta, with a plan to improve traffic and pedestrian safety and efficiency;
- St. Louis, Missouri, on programs to coordinate civic leaders, law enforcement and the courts to improve public safety; and
- Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with a collaboration between the public and private sectors to advance the aquaponics industry, an eco-friendly approach to agriculture that recycles water from fish farms to nourish crops without the use of soil.
The deadline for 2012 grant applications is December 16, 2011. Selected applicants must demonstrate a commitment to using all publicly available urban data to help identify local problems and solutions. To help, IBM will provide special assistance to each winning city on the use of City Forward, a free online tool developed with public policy experts that explores trends and statistics in a visual way, and which can be adapted for the study of any number of issues across cities. Looking at these issues in a more scientific, systematic fashion provides insight that can help shape public policy solutions to pressing municipal problems.
Visit the Smarter Cities Challenge website to learn more, or to apply for a Challenge grant – each of which has an equivalent value of approximately US $400,000 in talent and technology. The website contains a video overview of the program, and also provides case studies that describe IBM’s recommendations to 2011 grant recipients.