Data Analytics

Using Data to Tackle Urban Challenges

Two years ago, IBM launched the Smarter Cities Challenge – a philanthropic initiative designed to provide our most valuable resource, the problem solving skills of our employees, to address some of the most pressing urban challenges. Today, we are delighted to announce the 2013 Smarter Cities Challenge grants. In this year’s application pool, sustainability was the most popular challenge posed by cities, and we look forward to tackling those challenges alongside perennial priority subjects like economic development and transportation.

In Palisades, New York, Stanley Litow (left), Vice President, Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs of IBM names the new recipients of the Smarter Cities Challenge grants at the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge Summit. (left to right) Winning mayors include: Mayor Miro Weinberger of Burlington, Vermont, Mayor Jose Fortunati of Porto Alegre, Brazil, The Right Honourable the Lord Mayor Alderman Gavin Robinson of Belfast, United Kingdom, Mayor Madeline Rogero of Knoxville, Tennessee and Mayor Dwight Jones of Richmond, Virginia. IBM’s single largest philanthropic initiative, the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge, is a three-year, 100-city, US$50 million competitive grant program that assigns a team of six IBM experts to each winning city to study a key issue identified by the city's leadership.


Also today, we are convening a gathering of city leaders involved in the Smarter Cities Challenge program to share best practices and collaborate on new approaches to common challenges. Over the course of the next two days, city leaders from Africa, Asia, Europe, and North and South America will come together to discuss their experiences, strengthen their global network, and share their perspectives with the 2013 class of Smarter Cities Challenge leaders. I invite you to join the conversation about the future of cities by following @citizenIBM on Twitter using the hashtags #CitySummit and #SmarterCities, and look forward to hearing your perspectives as we continue this journey toward a Smarter Planet.

By the end of 2012, we will have sent more than 300 experts in teams of six to 62 cities around the world, after considerable pre-work and planning. They have tackled challenges including:

  • Developing a strategy for data-driven policies for asthma reduction in Louisville, USA
  • Crafting a comprehensive traffic management plan for Nairobi, Kenya
  • Identifying opportunities to enhance the city’s global competitiveness and economic prospects through a culture of entrepreneurship in Málaga, Spain

We are honored to have such a distinguished list of city partners for 2013, and look forward to helping address the challenges they have put forward. While the first two years of the program were about building expertise and connecting city leaders, the third year of the program will focus on synthesis, and the ways in which the lessons learned from one city can be combined with those from another, to yield unexpected insight into the challenges facing cities.

Jen Crozier is Vice President, IBM Global Citizenship Initiatives.

Related Articles:

Continuing the Conversation About Smarter Cities

Using “Big Data” to Improve Public Health in Louisville

Laying the Foundation for Nairobi’s – and Kenya’s – Economic Growth

Building a Smarter Malaga

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