IBM Names First Recipients of Smarter Cities Challenge Grants

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ARMONK, N.Y., March 9, 2011 — IBM (NYSE: IBM) today selected 24 cities worldwide to receive IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grants.  The grants provide the cities with access to IBM’s top experts to analyze and recommend ways they can become even better place in which to live, work and play.  

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The IBM Smarter Cities Challenge is a competitive grant program in which IBM is awarding a total of $50 million worth of technology and services to 100 municipalities worldwide over the next three years.  Teams of specially selected IBM experts will provide city leaders with analysis and recommendations to support successful growth, better delivery of municipal services, more citizen engagement, and improved efficiency.

IBM selected cities that made the strongest case for participating in the Smarter Cities Challenge. During these engagements, IBM technical experts, researchers and consultants immerse themselves in local issues and offer a range of options and recommended next-steps.  Among the issues they examine are healthcare, education, safety, social services, transportation, communications, sustainability, budget management, energy, and utilities.

Here are the 24 cities that earned IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grants in 2011:

Antofagasta, Chile
Boulder, CO
Bucharest, Romania
Chengdu, China
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Delhi, India
Edmonton, Canada
Eindhoven, Netherlands
Glasgow, UK
Guadalajara, Mexico
Helsinki, Finland
Jakarta, Indonesia
Milwaukee, WI
New Orleans, LA
Newark, NJ
Nice, France
Philadelphia, PA
Providence, RI
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Sapporo, Japan
St. Louis, MO
Syracuse, NY
Townsville, Australia
Tshwane-Pretoria, South Africa

“We selected these cities because of their commitment to the use of data to make better decisions, and for their desire to explore and act on smarter solutions to the their most pressing concerns,” said Stanley S. Litow, IBM vice president of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs, and President of IBM’s Foundation. “The cities we picked are eager to implement programs that tangibly improve the quality of life in their areas, and to create roadmaps for other cities to follow.  The stakes have never been greater but we’re excited at the prospect of helping cities tackle the most pressing challenges of our time.”

Cities competing for Smarter Cities Challenge grants described areas of focus in their applications that were as diverse as its residents.  For instance, one city wanted IBM to study the feasibility of delivering school coursework to mobile devices.  Another city expressed a desire to study how analytics might be used to determine the wisest use of land relative to its plans for developing a planned community.  Other cities want to improve public transportation, or link public safety more explicitly with public school education.  

A consistent theme in these projects is the collecting, sharing, analyzing and acting on data generated by urban interactions and transactions.  Such information can include everything from school test scores, smartphone adoption, crime statistics, foot and vehicle traffic, to tax revenue and library usage.  Correlations are then made that link seemingly unrelated aspects of urban life to develop innovative and cost effective strategies to address persistent challenges.

IBM’s consultants and technology specialists will help municipalities analyze and prioritize their needs, review strengths and weaknesses, and learn from the successful strategies used by other cities worldwide.  After studying the role that intelligent technology might play in uniting and advancing different aspects of city life, IBM then outlines a range of concrete strategies designed to help make cities healthier, safer, smarter, more prosperous, and attractive to current and prospective residents and businesses.

During Smarter Cities Challenge engagements, IBM will help recipients become comfortable with a free Web site called City Forward (  The site gives policy makers, citizen-advocates and the public a new perspective on how their respective cities are performing compared with others.  It serves up easy-to-use data to help them make more informed decisions that improve services and make their citizens and businesses healthier, happier, safer, more productive and prosperous.  

It captures vital statistics on the performance of many specific services such as education, safety, health, transportation, land use, utilities, energy, environment, personal income, spending, population growth and employment.  Users can then gather, compare, analyze, visualize and discuss statistical trends, giving them real-world insight that can help shape public policy.

The need for better city management has never been greater.  In 2008, according to the United Nations, more than half the world’s human population began living in cities for the first time in the world’s history.

Smarter Cities Challenge draws upon IBM’s intrinsic technological savvy, but also upon the field experience accumulated by IBM over the last three years from the company’s ongoing pro bono Corporate Service Corps grant program.  Corporate Service Corps has deployed 100 teams of 1,000 top IBM employees from around the world with skills in technology, scientific research, marketing, finance, and business development.  They work with local government, non profit civic groups, and small business to develop blueprints that intersect business, technology, and society.  

The approximate value of each Smarter Cities Challenge grant is equivalent to as much as US$400,000.  

Smarter Cities Challenge is sponsored by the international philanthropic foundation at IBM, which has been a leader in corporate social responsibility and corporate citizenship for 100 years.  For more information about the Smarter Cities Challenge grant program, can visit  To learn more about IBM’s corporate citizenship initiatives, please visit:

Ari Fishkind

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Source: IBM