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Rachel Haot is the chief digital officer for New York City, heading the NYC Digital program. Mayor Michael Bloomberg appointed her to the newly-created post in 2011. Previously, Haot founded GroundReport,  a crowdsourced news Web site based in New York. She recently answered some questions for the A Smarter Planet blog about what it takes to make a digital city. Here’s an edited version of the interview:

A Smarter Planet: Why did you accept Mayor Bloomberg’s offer to become New York’s first chief digital officer?

Rachel Haot, NYC's chief digital officer

Rachel Haot, NYC’s chief digital officer

Haot: I had always been interested in the intersection of technology and government, so I saw his offer as a phenomenal chance to serve the greatest city on earth and to help to galvanize the momentum that I already saw building. Our goal at the start was to create the first digital roadmap that any city has produced, and to use that roadmap to make a difference in the lives of New Yorkers.

Here’s Haot talking about how to run a successful hackathon:

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Dr. David Sinclair, Senior Lecturer, School of Computing, Dublin City University

Dr. David Sinclair, Senior Lecturer, School of Computing, Dublin City University

By Dr. David Sinclair

What skills will tomorrow’s city leaders need?

This is a very broad question, but it has a specific set of answers. Tomorrow’s urban leaders must organize, analyze and understand the resource that is Big Data. They will need to be able to use the sea of data pouring into their systems to predict how the city will operate and then build adaptable and informed plans to deal with the inevitable disruption and change. This set of skills fall under the heading of data analytics.

It is with these skills in mind that we have designed a Data Analytics Master’s programme at Dublin City University in partnership with IBM Research Dublin. The goal of the programme is to provide future planners with a deep understanding of the issues, as well as the techniques and tools needed to explore large amounts of raw data and extract meaningful conclusions from it. With such a skill set, tomorrows’ urban leaders will be positioned to build smarter, sustainable cities. Continue Reading »

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VP for marketing, IBM Smarter Cities

Rich Michos, VP for marketing, IBM Smarter Cities

By Rich Michos

An increasing percentage of the world’s population lives in cities, but many of the old problems persist even as new opportunities emerge. Fortunately, a new generation of leaders, comfortable with technology, is embracing the value of data analytics in decision-making in hopes that it will help them transform their cities.

As a result, in spite of financial pressures, many cities around the globe are aggressively adopting Smarter Cities technology. In a just-issued report, Navigant Research estimates that the global market for Smart Cities technology will grow from $6.1 billion annually in 2012 to more than $20 billion in 2020, a compound annual growth rate  of 16.2%. This represents a cumulative investment of over $117 billion in smart city technologies between 2012 and 2020. The same report named IBM as the #1 supplier of smart city technology. Continue Reading »

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Rich Hume, General Manager, IBM Europe

By Rich Hume

With 20 percent of its land below sea level and more than half of the country vulnerable to flooding, The Netherlands depends on a vast network of dykes and sluices to hold back and divert sea, river and rain water.  For most of the past 500 years, the ever-evolving system has done its job admirably. (An exception came in 1953, with flooding that caused the deaths of 1800 people.) Yet global warming and the threat of rising sea levels but also more droughts means the Dutch can’t rest on their laurels. So the government is launching an innovative collaboration aimed at harnessing big data to improve management of the water system while restraining cost increases. Continue Reading »

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John Hearne, Head of IBM Cúram Solutions, IBM Software Group

John Hearne, Head of IBM Cúram Solutions, IBM Software Group

By John Hearne

I recently read a story about an elderly woman with a heart condition. She lives in a building without air conditioning and there was concern that a hot and humid day in July could easily put her health at risk and possibly lead to a costly ER visit.

As the story pointed out, the reality is that a few hundred dollars for an air conditioner could solve the problem before it ever happened.

Of course, to case workers at social services agencies around the world, the difficulty of identifying interventions before situations become critical is not news.

In a perfect system, an individual’s health needs would be understood not only medically, but also in the context of their lifestyle, living environment, family conditions and other social factors. Making this information readily available to health and case workers would help them spend more time in the field where they are needed the most. Continue Reading »

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Jeff Rhoda, General Manager, Global Government and Education, IBM

Jeffrey Rhoda, General Manager, Global Government and Education, IBM

By Jeffrey Rhoda

Governments have always been great at collecting data. From the smallest regional municipality to the largest country in the world, public sector organizations cull vast amounts of information to balance the needs of their residents and businesses and ensure ongoing economic growth.

With the global economic recession lingering, government leaders are under continued pressure to make better choices, deliver results and demonstrate greater accountability.

Take, for instance, the data collected and utilized by government taxation departments. The reputation and integrity of an entire government can be at risk if the public questions the credibility of the data produced or processed by this department.

The Finance & Local Taxation Bureau of Ningbo, a seaport city in the Zhejiang province in China, was drowning in data – data that was mostly unreliable and varied. To remedy the situation, the bureau leaders instituted a new system that structures and extracts data in real time. Continue Reading »

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Karen Parrish, Vice President, Industry Solutions, IBM

Karen Parrish, Vice President, Industry Solutions, IBM

By Karen Parrish

This week, professionals from around the world are attending eHealthWeek to discuss trends, innovations and solutions to address the ongoing challenges in healthcare. There certainly won’t be a lack of data and discussion about cost, wellness, aging populations and dealing with chronic conditions. While there are plenty of opinions, what’s missing from this deluge of points of view is a holistic approach to meeting needs of individuals – an approach IBM calls Smarter Care.

We’ve known for decades that health and social systems are interdependent and have a critical impact on each other. Yet the complex matrix of public and private stakeholders in the health and well-being of citizens still operate largely within silos, providing separate and disparate care.  Continue Reading »

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Vince Ward, Project Officer at the Southern Housing Group

Vince Ward, Project Officer at the Southern Housing Group

By Vince Ward

What started out as a community-based energy project on the Isle of Wight has morphed into a bona fide social movement.

Encouraged by the work of IBM Distinguished Engineer, Andy Stanford-Clark, who created a “smart” house that monitored, managed and optimized energy use, three years ago the Village of Chale created the Chale Community Project, which seeks, among other things, to reduce home energy costs by up to 50 percent. While the project has indeed raised awareness and helped residents lower costs, it has also had a serendipitous outcome – it has brought the community together.

From the very beginning of the Chale Community Project – during planning and roll-out phases – we worked on ensuring the local community was on board. Going from door to door, the team would communicate with residents about the plan of action, encourage participation and try to boost morale. Continue Reading »

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Alfred Vanderpuije, Mayor of Accra, Ghana

Alfred Vanderpuije, Mayor of Accra, Ghana

By Alfred Vanderpuije

This week at the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town, leaders will come together to discuss Africa’s future. One of the three focus themes is the importance of ‘Strategic Infrastructure’ as a foundation for the continent’s growth. As Mayor of Accra and Chief Executive of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly, I would say that there are few areas as crucial for infrastructure investment as cities.

Buoyed by an emerging oil and gas industry and a rapidly growing consumer class, Ghana’s economy is one of the fastest growing in the world. Investors are flocking to the country’s capital Accra to take advantage of new business opportunities and become part of this success story. Mastercard recently identified Accra as one of Africa’s top cities in terms of economic growth potential over the next few years. Local and foreign firms are also driving a number of urban development opportunities such as Ghana Cyber City, King City and Appolonia City which aim to set up modern, high-tech hubs within and around Accra. Continue Reading »

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Deepak Advani, Vice President, Business Analytics, IBM

Deepak Advani, General Manager, Cloud and Smarter Infrastructure, IBM

By Deepak Advani

The Internet Age has made it possible for dramatic amounts of information to be available at our fingertips. And as capacity expands and accessibility grows, we push ever closer to the  Internet-of-things, where our physical and digital worlds are tightly coupled and leveraged.

With the ability to generate, share, store and access increasing amounts of data – Big Data – the challenge soon becomes one of management and analysis. Left alone, the mountains of seemingly disparate information are useless. But when mined intelligently, they become treasure troves of insight that can unlock benefits, such as improved customer service, equipment-saving predictive maintenance, and new business opportunities, to name a few. Continue Reading »

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