Cape Town, South Africa

Lagos and Cape Town are among the 31 cities to be awarded IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grants for next year.

IBM named 31 cities globally as recipients of IBM's Smarter Cities Challenge  grants for 2013.

Launched in 2011, the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge is a three-year, 100-city, USD50 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 USD400,000, 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

"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."

This year, IBM provided expert counsel to 33 cities worldwide which had earned IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grants. They included Accra, Ghana; Tshwane, South Africa; Rabat, Morocco; and Nairobi, Kenya. 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. 

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