By the middle of 2016, IBM will have made Smarter Cities Challenge grants to more than 130 cities worldwide chosen from more than 600 applicants, with nearly 800 of IBM top experts delivering pro bono services valued at more than USD $66 million.
Some interesting new twists accompany the announcement from IBM of the 16 cities chosen for its 2015-15 Smarter Cities Challenge grants. But first, here's the list of cities announced by IBM:
- Allahabad, India
- Amsterdam, Netherlands
- Athens, Greece
- Denver, Colorado
- Detroit, Michigan
- Huizhou, China
- Melbourne, Australia
- Memphis, Tennessee
- Rochester, New York
- San Isidro, Peru
- Santiago, Chile
- Sekondi, Ghana
- Surat, India
- Taichung, Taiwan
- Vizag, India
- Xuzhou, China
In addition to consulting services from teams of IBM experts, for the first time the IBM Watson Analytics Professional Edition will be put to work to uncover trends in city data. IBM says this might include studying travel patterns, public health, or the effects of man-made and weather events. The Watson tool can understand questions posed in natural, non-technical language, and help its users collaborate, predict and plan.
Twitter will help too
Also for the first time, three of this year's winning cities -- Detroit, Melbourne and Memphis -- will receive access to historic and current Twitter data pertaining to their cities. And in at least one of those cities, an expert from Twitter will join the IBM team on the ground to perform deep analysis of the social media data.
"With the help of our experts, cities around the world are now able to better use data and transform the way they engage citizens, deliver service and make their cities more livable," said Jennifer Crozier, IBM's Vice President of Global Citizenship Initiatives. "We thank all those who have applied and feel fortunate to be in the position of providing IBM's best talent, innovation and resources to help so many cities improve."
How it works
After intense preparation, IBM Smarter Cities Challenge teams, made up of six IBM experts, spend three weeks working closely with city staff in each winning city, analyzing data about a critical issue facing the municipality. Team members consider diverse perspectives on the topic through meeting with local officials, citizens, businesses and not-for-profits. Best practices used by other cities are studied. After working closely with city leadership, the IBM team then recommends innovative and specifically tailored ways to address the issue it studied in that particular city, providing a road map on how the city can improve.
Here are three examples of results achieved in recent months in previous winners of IBM grants:
- Tainan, Taiwan secured government funding for wireless projects to make 4G services available on buses, and to power intelligent parking garages, traffic lights, a taxi sharing service, smart towing services and a transportation information center that also offers trip planning apps to travelers.
- Birmingham, Alabama is rolling out mobile food markets stocked with fresh, nutritious and affordable food in underserved neighborhoods to address local health challenges.
- Valparaiso, Chile secured $100 million in funding for transportation infrastructure designed to make the city more economically competitive.