Sunday, March 18, 2012

#ALGORITHMS: "Smart Cities Win Awards"

IBM added 33 more cities to the roster of recipients of its Smart Cities Challenge Grants.

Dashboard used by Edmonton, Alberta, a recipient of IBM's Smarter City Challenge Grant last year, to analyze traffic data more rigorously for improved road safety.

The 2012 Smarter Cities Challenge Grant recipients have been announced by IBM in its three-year 100-city program started in 2011. The $50 million Smarter Cities Challenge is IBM's single largest philanthropic initiative ever. Recipients receive in-person, in-depth engagements by a team of IBM experts who study each city's idiosyncratic needs, then make recommendations as to how to improve city services and efficiency by working smarter.

In an intense competition among the cities of the world to win an IBM Smarter Cities Challenge Grant, each city proposed areas of focus for their particular needs. Projects of economic and workforce development were proposed to attract jobs and industries to particular cities. Many cities had concerns over growth of transportation that integrated automobile, bus, railway, bicycle, and pedestrian modes. Pollution from transportation was also a concern for many cities, where sustainable growth was dependent on lowering the vehicle miles traveled per day per capita. Health concerns were the focus of other cities, where air quality improvements were needed to reduce the incidence of respiratory ailments. Education was the primary focus of some cities where analytic tools were desired to determine how best to spend limited funds to improve school systems. Finally, urban planning was a concern for many cities, both to smartly allocate resources in newly developed areas, as well as determining how best to revitalize and redevelop aging neighborhoods.

Dashboard used by Edmonton, Alberta, a recipient of IBM's Smarter City Challenge Grant last year, to analyze traffic data more rigorously for improved road safety.

IBM grant recipients were chosen for a variety of reasons, but one common theme was an expressed willingness to use social media and other modern means of exchanging ideas between citizens and city-officials, agencies, businesses, and non-profits. Each city will begin its year-long assistance program by participating in IBM's free City Forward program where any city can sign-up to explore trends and solutions to the outstanding urban issues of cities worldwide.

Of the 24 Smarter Cities Challenge grant recipients in 2011, and the seven pilot cities of 2010, many have already made sweeping public policy changes including the launching of new initiatives as a result of recommendations made by IBM's teams of experts. For instance, Edmonton, Canada has begun using more rigorous analytics to improve road safety from real-time traffic data. Glasgow, Scotland, has begun subsidizing the heating bills of qualifying seniors using proceeds from clean-energy projects. And Chicago, Illinois is opening five technology schools, in cooperation with local corporations, to bridge high school and community college with marketable business skills.

The cities awarded Smarter Cities Challenge grants in 2012 include: Accra, Ghana; Ahmedabad, India; Atlanta, Georgia; Birmingham, UK; Boston, Massachusetts; Cheongju, Korea; Chonburi, Thailand; Curitiba, Brazil; Da Nang, Vietnam; Dortmund, Germany; Durham, North Carolina; Eindhoven, Netherlands; Geraldton, Australia; Houston, Texas; Ishinomaki, Japan; Jacksonville, Florida; Jurong Lake District, Singapore; Louisville, Kentucky; Malaga, Spain; Medellin, Colombia; New Taipei City, Taiwan; Nanjing, China; Nairobi, Kenya; Omaha, Nebraska; Ottawa, Canada; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Pune, India; Rabat, Morocco; Rosario, Argentina; Siracusa, Italy; Surrey, British Columbia, Canada; Tshwane, South Africa and Toluca, Mexico