Our hearty congratulations to four African cities who are recipients of 2012 IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grant award. Accra, Ghana; Nairobi, Kenya; Rabat, Morocco and Tshwane, South Africa are among the 33 cities that were selected for this initiative.
Launched in 2011, this three-year, 100-city $50 million program—IBM’s single-largest philanthropic initiative— funds top IBM executives to work onsite along with local experts from the public and private sectors of the winning cities, who study and then make detailed recommendations addressing locally important urban issues.
As part of the grant, IBM will provide special assistance to each winning city on the use of City Forward, a free online site IBM created with public policy experts. Citizens, elected officials and urban planners can use the site to explore trends and statistics in a visual and accessible way, which can be adapted for the examination of any number of urban issues—leading to better decision making.
“The cities that have been selected are all different, but they have one clear similarity: the strong personal commitment by the city’s leadership to put in place the changes needed to help the city make smarter decisions,” Stanley S. Litow, IBM vice president of corporate citizenship and corporate affairs, and president of IBM’s Foundation, said in a statement. ”These cities demonstrated a desire to set an example for other municipalities, an eagerness to collaborate with multiple stakeholders, and a strong commitment to consider implementing recommendations the city felt would be the most feasible and beneficial to their residents.”
Over 140 applications were received by the Smarter Cities Challenge program from over 40 countries around the world. It is indeed great to see the four African countries demonstrate a willingness to exchange ideas and data freely among citizens, elected officials, nonprofits, businesses and city agencies, to formulate strategies for improving the quality of life for their citizens, which ultimately won them the grant.
The winning cities proposed intriguing projects and areas of focus for IBM experts. They included initiatives for:
· Economic and Workforce Development — attracting a diverse variety of jobs and industries
· Transportation — integrating bus, rail, bicycle, car and pedestrian modes of transportation
· Sustainability — measuring vehicle miles traveled more precisely to help lower pollution levels
· Health — using inhaler and air quality data to identify and reduce asthma outbreaks
· Education — applying data analytics to identify the most effective investments for improving an entire school system
· Urban Planning- – revitalizing and redeveloping older neighborhoods
In the four African cities, officials are encouraged to see that the government is willing to engage in private-public partnerships, which in the past have yielded successful results
In Kenya, IBM East Africa General Manager Tony Mwai said that IBM executives will collaborate with civil society organizations to help identify smarter transportation solutions that could help resolve the city’s traffic gridlocks that currently cost the Kenyan economy Sh50 million daily.
The grant will enable Accra, Ghana to streamline its revenue collection channels, leveraging IBM’s expertise in developing smarter systems for emerging cities.
Leaders from Rabat, Morocco plan to tap into IBM has a long history of helping governments, industries, and business leaders take on complex problems and develop solutions that transformed the workings of societies and economies.
“The City of Tshwane, South Africa, looks forward to working with a grant-funded IBM team on exploring smarter solutions to improve the city’s operations while enhancing service delivery including Smarter Transport solutions.” says Tshwane Executive Mayor, Councillor Kgosientso Ramokgopa.
Source: IBM Web Site: http://smartercitieschallenge.org