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This is part one of a series on building a smarter city.

By Peter Kusterer, IBM Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs, Germany

“In ‘Technology, Tolerance and Talent’ we see an engine for economic well-being which shapes the attractiveness and the future of our city and region significantly,” said the Mayor of Dortmund in 2011 when applying for the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge. Just a few months ago the city decided to put a new team (Initiative Dortmunder Talent, IDT) in charge to find new and innovative approaches to identify and foster talent – be it in business, engineering, sports, academia or culture.

We are seeing diversity in demographics in the city –  a rising number of citizens with a non-German backgrounds and a continuously growing percentage of senior citizens are key challenges, yet also opportunities for the city to continue its path transforming from a city of coal, steel, and beer industries into a knowledge and services-based economy.

With more than 30,000 students in universities and research facilities,  a ballet company,  the theater and concert hall, Dortmund laid a strong foundation of talent during the past decades which holds the promise for a bright future.

And yet, this is no reason to become complacent. Global competition is strong, so the city leadership decided not only to create a new talent initiative, but to seek advice and to learn from best practices worldwide. The IBM Smarter Cities Challenge provided such an opportunity. Technology does not appear to immediately solve every problem, so how can IBMers help with this challenge of city and talent development?

As Lic. Jorge Aristóteles Sandoval Díaz, Mayor of Guadalajara, Mexico, put it: “Through their knowledge — they helped to lead us to find a light along the way, clarity on what we want to do and how we’re going to achieve it.”

When the IBM team came to Dortmund it did not waste time getting started. More than 100 stakeholders, from business and city administrations , civil society, academics, as well as religious and ethnic community leaders,  joined in to support the city in developing a shared strategy for talent management. That in and of itself proved to be a key element – engaging and inviting citizens, business and academic leaders along with city officials to forge the future of the city.

More than 80 in-depth interviews were lead by the IBM team in one week. The team learned about best practices, such as a nationally recognized, highly successful school or an association supporting minorities from Africa that scaled beyond its initial target group.

In other words, the team started to collect information, isolating the issue. They worked with organizations across sectors to interconnect the different stakeholders and, no surprise to any city or corporation for that matter, it turned out many learned for the first time about initiatives, assets and momentum taking place just around the corner.

Guided by their professional skills and experiences, complemented with information gained from stakeholders, and driven by the ambition to help the community and “crack the code” to developing talent, they spent three tough weeks and eventually came up with six concise recommendations.

To learn more about the specific recommendations provided to the City, visit the Smarter Planet Blog tomorrow. 

Also see comments from the Mayor on the Citizen IBM blog.

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July 19, 2012
12:12 am

[...] This is the second part of a series on building a smarter city. See first post here.  [...]

Posted by: A Path to a Smarter City: Driving talent and technology in Dortmund, Germany « A Smarter Planet Blog
July 18, 2012
9:15 am

[...] A Path to a Smarter City: Dortmund, Germany Shaping Its Future [...]

Posted by: Team von IBM hilft Dortmund auf dem Weg zur smarten City | Citizen IBM Blog
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