IBM extends Smarter City Challenge

IBM extends Smarter City Challenge

IBM announced it is extending the Smarter Cities Challenge competitive grant program in which governments apply for assistance from the company’s pro bono problem-solving teams. The effort, begun in 2011, has already sent 700 experts to municipalities around the world, where they have helped local governments better deliver services to their citizens.

Over the first four years of IBM's Smarter Cities Challenge, many of the 116 winning municipalities were able to improve public safety, economic development, revenue, transparency, citizen engagement, health, transportation, social services and utilities, the company said.  Each Smarter Cities Challenge engagement is valued at USD $500,000.

After intense preparation, six-person IBM Smarter Cities Challenge teams spend three weeks in the winning region analyzing all available data about a critical issue of the municipality's choosing. Then IBM presents comprehensive recommendations for improving the delivery of services to citizens. This is followed by a more detailed, written implementation plan.

Past Smarter Cities Challenge grant recipients have included:

Jacksonville, Fla., which worked with IBM to build JaxScore, a public-facing dashboard that measures the city's performance and progress on economic development priorities, including building permits issued, jobs created and veterans served.

Syracuse, N.Y., which won the grant in 2011, used IBM’s help to create a system to analyze and predict neighborhoods at risk for blight because of foreclosures and vacant properties. To do it, IBM helped the city establish a property vacancy prediction model that connected stakeholders and data and a predictive situational analysis system that uses a data clearinghouse, prediction methods and cost estimations.

Houston launched its eGovernment Center, which includes a comprehensive and convenient social service portal for citizens needing help on multiple issues such as education, public safety and disabilities.

"We're extending IBM's Smarter Cities Challenge for one, simple reason: It works," said Jennifer Crozier, IBM’s vice president of Global Citizenship Initiatives. "City leaders from around the world have told us how IBM's advice has helped them re-imagine how they can use data and analytics to help them solve complex problems.  We invite mayors and regional leaders to apply with their toughest problems and let's see what we can do together."

Smarter Cities Challenge is open to local and regional, general purpose governing bodies, including cities, counties, prefectures, boroughs and districts. Applications may be submitted to IBM through Feb. 6, 2015, by visiting www.smartercitieschallenge.org.

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