Data Analytics

IBM Expertise Fuels Urban Transformation

IBM is extending the Smarter Cities Challenge global competitive grant program, through which more than 700 of IBM’s top experts have executed pro bono consulting projects to help municipalities and regions improve the quality of life for their residents. Below, IBM Vice President for Global Citizenship Initiatives Jen Crozier reflects on the program’s success and the ongoing challenges facing the world’s cities.


The world’s cities are vital, exciting, often troubled and always unique. Cities house three quarters of us, attract many of the best and brightest of us, and inspire much of our greatest thinking. But urban areas can amplify societal challenges as much as they reinforce cultural benefits. That’s why running a city is never easy.

When IBM launched the Smarter Cities Challenge in 2011, we saw an opportunity to make a difference by using our innovative technologies and cross-industry expertise to help transform the nature of urban life. Smarter cities are the building blocks of a smarter planet, but making a city smarter requires a unique set of collaboration and partnership skills. IBM has those skills, and we believed – and still believe – that their intelligent application has the power to engage and inspire governments, citizens, corporations and others to work together toward a common good.

Just four years into the Smarter Cities program, we’re seeing some meaningful results:

  • In Glasgow, United Kingdom, our data analyses and solutions proposal helped the city secure a $40 million grant from the UK’s Technology Strategy Board to subsidize heating fuel costs for elderly, low-income citizens.
  • Our work with Valparaiso, Chile has resulted in the city’s receipt of $100 million in national funding to enact its transportation improvement initiatives.
  • Based on our recommendations, Johannesburg, South Africa has implemented a comprehensive technology solution to address emergency management and public safety issues.
  • After working with a Smarter Cities Challenge team, Nanjing, China implemented a comprehensive social media program that connected more than two million people to the 2014 Youth Olympic Games.
  • In Syracuse, USA, our data analytics expertise helped the city pinpoint vacant homes and at-risk neighborhoods, leading to across-the-board revitalization efforts in these areas along with a 69 percent increase in the collection of delinquent property taxes
    and fees.

This is just a selection of success stories from the Smarter Cities Challenge program as we gear up for the next round.

Starting today, local, regional and general purpose governing bodies – including cities, counties, prefectures, boroughs and districts – may apply for their chance to become a global smarter city. Visit this page for complete information on how to apply, applicant criteria and the stories of cities like yours that have capitalized on IBM’s technology and expertise to transform themselves into better places to live, work and do business.

Jen Crozier is Vice President of Global Citizenship Initiatives with IBM Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs.

Related Resources:

IBM Extends Grant Award Winning Program for Cities and Regions

Learn More About the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge

Read What Smarter Cities Mayors Have to Say About the Program and its Benefits

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