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IBM Names Worldwide Recipients of 2013 Smarter Cities Challenge Grants to Improve Urban Life

ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 14, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- IBM (NYSE: IBM) today named 31 cities globally as recipients of IBM's Smarter Cities Challenge (#smartercities) grants for 2013.

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(Photo:  http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20121114/NY13978 )

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

Following are the 31 cities that have won IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grants for 2013: 

Belfast, United Kingdom
Buffalo, USA
Burlington, USA
Cape Town, South Africa
Chennai, India
Christchurch, New Zealand
Copenhagen, Denmark
Date, Japan
Faro, Portugal
Foshan, China
Fresno, USA
Gurgaon, India
Jeju, Korea
Khon Kaen, Thailand
Knoxville, USA
Kyoto, Japan
Lagos, Nigeria
Lodz, Poland
Makati City, Philippines
Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia
Pingtung County, Taiwan
Porto Alegre, Brazil
Quebec City, Canada
Reno, USA
Richmond, USA
Stavanger, Norway
Trujillo, Peru
Tucson, USA
Valparaiso, Chile
Vitoria, Brazil
Waterloo, Canada

"We congratulate the cities selected as IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grant recipients for 2013. This was a difficult decision because so many cities made strong cases to earn our time and talent.  But the winners distinguished themselves among their peers by convincingly demonstrating their preparation and willingness to make the kind of improvements that will improve their residents' quality of life and make their cities even smarter," said Stanley S. Litow, IBM vice president of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs, and president of IBM's Foundation.  "It's a privilege to share with these cities the talent and expertise of our most gifted employees, who are the envy of the industry.  They have premier skills in a range of disciplines -- all useful for helping to build smarter cities and a smarter planet."

In 2012, IBM provided expert counsel to 33 cities worldwide which had earned IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grants.  They included engagements in:

  • Cheongju, Korea, where IBM recommended smarter transportation strategies
  • Dortmund, Germany, and Malaga Spain, where IBM formulated plans for economic, workforce, skills development
  • Jacksonville, USA, where IBM outlined steps for downtown revitalization
  • Louisville, USA, where IBM showed how to use data to identify, predict and mitigate conditions that trigger asthma
  • Nairobi, Kenya, where IBM created a plan for traffic management 
  • Geraldton, Australia, where IBM suggested ways for the city to become a leader in smart grid technology adoption and digital services
  • Curitaba, Brazil, where IBM suggested approaches to sustainability and citizen engagement

In year-one and two of the Smarter Cities Challenge, IBM completed work in more than 60 cities globally, deploying nearly 400 of its most talented experts who delivered concrete and measurable results to winning cities.

The need to use innovative approaches that address civic challenges has never been greater. According to the United Nations, in 2008 more than half the world's population began living in cities for the first time. These population centers are more economically powerful, politically influential, and technologically advanced than at any time in history. However, they also struggle with increased demand for services, along with budgetary and operational challenges. 

Smarter Cities Challenge is a variant of IBM's Corporate Service Corps, a pro bono consulting program that assists governments with projects that intersect business, technology, and society.  Since its launch in 2008, Corporate Service Corps has sent more than 2,000 of IBM's top talent based in 50 countries on more than 200 team assignments in 30 countries.  While Corporate Service Corps focuses on the developing world, IBM's Smarter Cities Challenge addresses urban concerns in both industrialized and developing countries. 

Visit the CitizenIBM blog to read about some of the lessons learned during previous IBM Smarter Cities Challenge engagements, and to better understand the challenges that cities face.

The Smarter Cities Challenge is sponsored by IBM's Corporate Citizenship program and IBM's International Foundation. IBM has been a leader in corporate social responsibility and citizenship for more than 100 years.  To learn more about IBM's corporate citizenship initiatives, visit: http://www.citizenibm.com and http://www.youtube.com/user/citizenIBM.  To find out more about IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grants, please visit IBM's Smarter Cities Challenge web site at www.smartercitieschallenge.org.  Follow us on Twitter @citizenIBM 

Media Inquiries:

Ari Fishkind
IBM Media Relations


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