IBM Issues Birmingham With Smarter Cities Grant

IBM has named 33 cities around the world that will receive its Smarter Cities Challenge grants in 2012

IBM continues to push the Smarter Cities concept after selecting 33 cities worldwide to receive IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grants during 2012.

Launched in 2011, this three-year, 100-city $50 million (£32) program – IBM’s single-largest philanthropic initiative – funds in-person engagements staffed by teams of top IBM experts, who study and then make detailed recommendations addressing locally important urban issues.

Smarter Cities Challenge

The goal of the grant program is to improve urban life in the selected cities, IBM said. As a major multinational corporation, IBM is big on public/private partnerships to advance the environment and the geopolitical landscape throughout the world.

For the second year of the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge, cities around the world once again competed vigorously to benefit from IBM’s human talent and technology. The winning cities initiatives were for:

  • economic and workforce development – attracting a diverse variety of jobs and industries;
  • transportation – integrating bus, rail, bicycle, car and pedestrian modes of transportation;
  • sustainability – measuring vehicle miles travelled more precisely to help lower pollution levels;
  • health – using inhaler and air quality data to identify and reduce asthma outbreaks;
  • education – applying data analytics to identify the most effective investments for improving an entire school system; and
  • urban planning – revitalising and redeveloping older neighbourhoods.

Awarded Grants

Following are the cities that earned IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grants in 2012: Accra, Ghana; Ahmedabad, India; Atlanta; Birmingham, UK; Boston; Cheongju, Korea; Chonburi, Thailand; Curitiba, Brazil; Da Nang, Vietnam; Dortmund, Germany; Durham, N.C.; Eindhoven, Netherlands; Geraldton, Australia; Houston; Ishinomaki, Japan; Jacksonville, Fla.; Jurong Lake District, Singapore; Louisville, Ky.; Malaga, Spain; Medellin, Colombia; New Taipei City, Taiwan; Nanjing, China; Nairobi, Kenya; Omaha, Neb.; Ottawa, Ontario; Pittsburgh; Pune, India; Rabat, Morocco; Rosario, Argentina; Siracusa, Italy; Surrey, British Columbia; Tshwane, South Africa; and Toluca, Mexico.

While the proposed projects were diverse, a common denominator was the willingness to exchange ideas and data freely among citizens, elected officials, non-profits, businesses and city agencies so cities could make more informed and collaborative decisions, IBM officials said.

To that end, IBM will provide special assistance to each winning city on the use of City Forward, a free online site IBM created with public policy experts. Citizens, elected officials and urban planners can use the site to explore trends and statistics in a visual and accessible way, which can be adapted for the examination of any number of urban issues – leading to better decision making.

“The cities that have been selected are all different, but they have one clear similarity: the strong personal commitment by the city’s leadership to put in place the changes needed to help the city make smarter decisions,” Stanley S. Litow, IBM vice president of corporate citizenship and corporate affairs, and president of IBM’s Foundation, said in a statement. “These cities demonstrated a desire to set an example for other municipalities, an eagerness to collaborate with multiple stakeholders, and a strong commitment to consider implementing recommendations the city felt would be the most feasible and beneficial to their residents.”