I'm a city boy by nature. I grew up in New York City, went to college in Philadelphia, and in the years since have lived in either the downtown or inner suburbs of Washington D.C., Brighton (England), Portland, ME, Nice (France), Louisville, KY, Charlotte Amalie (St. Thomas, USVI) and Columbus, OH. Making cities more livable, safer, and greener has always been a passion, as has studying settlement patterns by immigrants in our great urban centers and learning the history of these cultural melting pots.
So I am pleased to be consulting with IBM to help urban-dwellers benefit from their Smarter Cities Challenge, which is a project through which IBM will grant $50 million in technology & consulting services to 100 cities around the world--50 of which will be in North America. From finding ways to use technology to improve municipal services to using innovation to ease congestion, this program could be a boon to many urban centers looking for the resources to improve the quality of living and attract business as well as residents.
As Lowkell says:
This is exactly the type of model that should be replicated as widely as possible, including in Virginia's cities and urban areas. That is, it should be replicated if we want to break our addiction on foreign oil, deal with environmental problems like global warming and sprawl, and save ourselves a great deal of money on energy costs.
And as Raf says:
The Smarter Cities grant would be helpful in dealing with any number of challenges that Columbus, Cleveland or Cincinnati face, ranging from from finding ways to streamline city administration to helping transit management through innovative technology applications. IBM sends experts to the winning cities to help them address major issues like traffic, public safety, economic development or sustainability - all things that could prove useful to places like Toledo, Dayton, or Akron.
A program like this helps cities foster citizen engagement, services and efficiency through technology, resulting in an better standard of living citizens. It fascinates me because it marries two of my interests: public engagement and technology.
Already, IBM teams have worked in Austin, TX , Baltimore, MD, Mecklenburg County, NC, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Katowice, Poland and Chengdu, China.
An IBM team helped address disparities between East and West Austin by helping the city coordinate and prioritize infrastructure investments.
In Chengdu, China the team recommended solutions to support the local government’s Wireless City initiative. And IBMers worked with the City of Baltimore to analyze the disconnect between citizens and city services.
Applications are due by December 31st. So if you live in or near a city, encourage your Mayor/City Council or any other relevant party to apply! We need to start building the cities of the 21st Century, while our government sadly still seems to want to ignore the crumbling infrastructure of the 19th. This is one way to help get it done.