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Rabat, Morocco - 11 Jun 2012: A team of IBM (NYSE:IBM) experts funded by an IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grant, has provided government leaders with initial recommendations for a more effective and efficient public transport system in Rabat and nearby Sale and Temara, by 2020.
The transport system of the greater metropolitan area of Rabat is facing critical issues, such as population growth from (1.77 million today to an anticipated 2.7 million in 2025) which will lead to greater traffic congestion, increased urbanization, and the disparate use of technology with disintegrated, disconnected, and often manual operations.
Rabat applied for, and won, a Smarter Cities Challenge grant from IBM, which sent some of its top employees to work and live in Rabat for three weeks. There, they studied the area's transportation opportunities and created a plan to address three aspects of an improved urban public transport system.
The first aspect addressed in IBM's plan involves how the efforts of multiple agencies might be coordinated, particularly with the creation of a transportation authority. With both an integrated budget and plan, the operation and growth of public transportation can be managed more efficiently and cost effectively.
A second aspect addresses how the system might be made safer and more convenient and attractive for commuters. To do so, the transportation authority could consider publishing realistic and constantly updated arrival schedules, a common ticketing system across buses and trams, restricting auto traffic during rush hours, and certifying private bus and taxi drivers.
Since effectiveness and efficiency relate directly to the people who operate the transportation system, the third facet focuses on how to ensure employees remain well trained, supported, focused and motivated. In this realm, successful strategies of other transport systems would be studied and adopted; staffing levels would be monitored; and employees would be recognized and rewarded for high performance.
“With its Smarter Cities Program, IBM is enabling new approaches to urban infrastructure services, by harnessing technology to solve transportation issues," said Abdallah Rachidi, Country General Manager of IBM Morocco. "The Cities of Rabat, Salé, and Temara will be able to predict and respond flexibly in all situations, by using data to drive intelligent responses and planning. This is a concrete example of how we can leverage technology to help improve urban mobility."
Technologies complementary to this blueprint include the use of global positioning data for tracking and mobilizing buses, and the use of video feeds and cameras to ensure passenger and staff safety. The concepts and ideas proposed in the plan are compatible with current Government initiatives, and borrow strategies used successfully in other cities around the world.
"The IBM team's findings and recommendations will help transform these cities as part of a greater Urban Mobility Upgrade Plan, in which Rabat, the "Green City" will be a pilot and a reference for public transportation system reform", said the Mayor of Rabat, Mr Fathallah Oualalou. "In October 2013, Rabat will host the United Cities and Local Government World Congress and this will be the opportunity for Rabat officials to present the findings and expected progress for our transportation management system."
Smarter Cites Challenge
Rabat bested 140 other cities around the world to become one of IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge winners this year. IBM selected 33 cities worldwide to receive Smarter Cities challenge grants in 2012 and Rabat was selected along with three other African cities.
Launched in 2011, the IBM initiative is a three-year, 100-city US$50 million competitive grant program and is IBM's single-largest philanthropic initiative. Winning cities get the benefit of some of IBM's most talented employees who examine critical, top-priority urban issues such as transportation, health, housing, economic development and public safety. The IBM team then creates a comprehensive plan of creative solutions which they present to the city's leadership addressing each top priority issue.
To find out more about IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grants, please visit http://smartercitieschallenge.org/.
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