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Smarter city grants up for grabs

IBM is calling for proposals from city leaders that could benefit from its problem-solving and innovative technology

Syracuse in the US is one of the cities to have benefited from the IBM programme
Syracuse in the US is one of the cities to have benefited from the IBM programme

Teams of five or six IBM experts are deployed to each of the municipalities

Each Smarter Cities Challenge engagement is valued at $500,000

Top IBM employees have been deployed to more than 130 cities worldwide

IBM is extending its annual Smarter Cities Challenge grant programme that provides pro bono consulting to help cities improve the critical services they provide to citizens.


For this next round, IBM is calling for proposals from city leaders that could benefit from IBM’s problem-solving assistance and innovative technology, such as data analytics, cloud computing, cognitive computing, and comprehensive weather data.


Teams of five or six IBM experts are deployed to each of the municipalities chosen to receive the grants. They will study the region’s issues for at least one month prior to their posting. During their three-week deployment, they’ll work closely with local government and community leadership, gathering additional input.


The data is then analysed and the insights gained is used to offer support that can take the form of strategic recommendations, data-driven tools, implementation roadmaps and workshops as well as staff training.

Over the past six years, the Smarter Cities Challenge has deployed 800 of IBM’s top talent to more than 130 cities worldwide to help local governments improve delivery of vital services.


With each Smarter Cities Challenge engagement valued at $500,000, IBM said it has provided the equivalent of over $65m in pro bono technology and consulting engagements.


"Cities around the world are under enormous, daily pressure to tackle growing challenges with ever more limited resources," said Jennifer Crozier, vice president of Global Citizenship Initiatives at IBM. "Often, they lack access to the most innovative technology solutions and insights that could be applied to solve those problems and improve services. We look forward to sharing IBM’s data and analytics and cognitive computing expertise to help make meaningful and lasting improvements."


Cities have used insights from the data analytics provided by their Smarter Cities Challenge grants to improve affordable housing, economic development, infrastructure and urban planning, public safety, social equity, social services, transportation, and water, energy and the environment. These include:


Memphis and IBM worked to improve health emergency response times and provide preventative healthcare to citizens, particularly to low-income residents that disproportionately use hospital emergencies rooms as their primary medical provider.

Dublin worked with IBM to assess the feasibility of adopting eco-friendly and lower cost solar power, and ultimately installed solar panels on the roofs of nearly all city government buildings.

Syracuse in the US uses data analytics that identifies neighborhoods at greater risk of home vacancies and foreclosures, and mobilises resources to help stabilise those areas and grow the property tax base.


To be considered, leaders of cities or regional governments must submit brief statements of interest to by February 24, 2017. IBM will then follow up with those with the most compelling proposals, further evaluate the ideas, then announce approximately 10 grant recipients in late spring for pro bono consulting engagements to be performed through mid-2018.


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