IBM Names 16 Municipalities as IBM Smarter Cities Challenge Grant Winners

IBM experts head to winning cities to help improve citizen services; Twitter to join IBM in analyzing social media in select cities to drive better policy decisions

ARMONK, N.Y. - 12 May 2015: IBM's (NYSE: IBM) Smarter Cities Challenge program (@CitiesChallenge) will be sending teams of company experts to 16 municipalities around the world through 2016 to help cities with critical issues ranging from jobs creation,  transportation, and public safety, to healthcare, revenue, social services, and public works.

The 16 winners for 2015-16 were selected from a highly competitive pool of more than 100 cities around the world that applied for a grant of consulting services from IBM. By mid 2016, IBM will have made such 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. Each consulting engagement has a commercial value of USD $500,000.

For the first time, in addition to providing pro bono consulting services, the company will use IBM Watson Analytics Professional Edition to uncover trends in city data. This might include studying travel patterns, public health, or the effects of man-made and weather events. The tool can understand questions posed in natural, non-technical language, and help its users collaborate, predict and plan.

Also for the first time, three of the winning cities -- Detroit, Melbourne, and Memphis  -- will receive access to historic and current Twitter data pertaining to their cities. 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 Twitter data. (The two companies have a partnership in which IBM provides clients with cloud-based technology for analyzing Twitter data, driving better decision-making.) Providing the social media data and related services of Twitter’s experts is valued at USD $50,000.

Here's how a typical Smarter Cities Challenge engagement 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.

Smarter Cities Challenge engagements have delivered quantifiable results. In fact, IBM has helped cities around the world to significantly improve the quality of life for their residents. Projects informed by IBM advice have helped to upgrade skills of city staff, enabled cities to win prestigious awards, and made them more competitive. Here are some of the results achieved in just the past few months:

·          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 in the U.S. is rolling out mobile food markets stocked with fresh, nutritious, and affordable food in underserved neighborhoods to address local health challenges.

·          Knoxville, Tennessee in the U.S. secured USD $7.12 million to insulate 615 local homes and boost energy efficiency education.

·          Valparaiso, Chile secured $100 million in funding for transportation infrastructure designed to make the city more economically competitive.

·          Suffolk County, New York in the U.S. launched clean-water initiatives to strengthen the area’s physical and economic health, as well as to provide protection from natural disasters.

·          Houston, Texas in the U.S. created a convenient online portal where residents can tap into resources to enhance education and public safety -- enabling citizens to have their voices heard.

Today, IBM is announcing the following cities and regions as winners of the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grants for 2015-2016:

Allahabad, India

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Athens, Greece

Denver, United States

Detroit, United States

Huizhou, China

Melbourne, Australia

Memphis, United States

Rochester, New York, United States

San Isidro, Peru

Santiago, Chile

Sekondi, Ghana

Surat, India

Taichung, Taiwan

Vizag, India

Xuzhou, China

Jennifer Crozier, IBM’s Vice President of Global Citizenship Initiatives, congratulated the winners, saying, "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 liveable. 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. Over the next year, we're eager to work with this new group of leaders to make their cities smarter."

 A video summarizing IBM Smarter Cities Challenge projects can be viewed here and more background about the program and its many successes can be found at www.smartercitieschallenge.org.

Follow all of IBM's citizenship initiatives by visiting the CitizenIBM blog at www.citizenIBM.com and on Twitter, at @citizenIBM. For more information about IBM citizenship, please visit www.ibm.com/ibm/responsibility

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