Launched in 2011, the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge is a three-year, 100-city, US$50 million competitive grant program. IBM's single-largest philanthropic initiative, the program assigns a team of six top IBM experts to each winning city to study a key issue identified by the city's leadership.
Well before the IBM team arrives for its three-week pro bono consulting engagement valued at US$400,000, the IBMers are already hard at work studying the city's issue. After they arrive, the teams work with city officials to analyze data, soliciting the input of dozens of local agencies and advocacy groups. IBM then provides detailed recommendations for how the city can efficiently and effectively address the issue.The grant recipients are being announced at an invitation-only summit bringing mayors and city leaders together with experts and urban policy leaders. Mayors in attendance include those from among cities that were previously awarded Smarter Cities Challenge grants, as well as those whose cities are today being named 2013 winners. At the summit, mayors will share successful strategies on topics ranging from transportation and economic development, to sustainability and citizen participation. They will review innovative solutions to the major challenges facing cities today, such as identifying financing, refining operating strategies, improving productivity, driving organizational change, and using data and technology effectively. For year-three of the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge, cities around the world once again competed vigorously to benefit from IBM's talent and expertise. The winning cities proposed innovative projects and areas of focus for IBM experts. These included strategies that address:
- Economic and Workforce Development -- reducing local dependence on a single industry
- Social Services - creating an ecosystem that supports independent living for a growing senior citizen community
- Sustainability - setting policies around billing rates, electric vehicle use, and solar power generation on a smart power grid
- Capital Budget Planning - enabling citizens to request expenditures, while also analyzing their potential impact
- Urban Planning - taking a more systematic, data-driven approach to housing policy, downtown revitalization, zoning, and permits