Mayor Thomas M. Menino announces City of Boston Wins IBM "Smarter Cities Challenge" 2012 Grant
Gives City Access to IBM's Technology Experts to Analyze and Recommend Ways Boston Can Become an Even Better Place to Live and Work
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For Immediate Release
March 15, 2012
Released By:
Mayor's Office
For More Information Contact:
Mayor's Press Office

Mayor Thomas M. Menino today announced that IBM has selected the City of Boston, to receive an IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grant.  The grant provides Boston with access to IBM's top experts to work on ways Boston can engage its citizens and more efficiently deliver municipal services.

“This is another example of how we are piloting innovative work in the City of Boston and sharing it with our colleagues around the world,” Mayor Menino said. “Boston is pleased to partner with IBM on the Smarter Cities Challenge.”

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 through 2013. 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.

Over three weeks this summer, IBM will work with the city, as part of the ongoing efforts of the mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, to draft a plan in two key areas for our residents:

  • Better Traffic Management:  This plan will help our Boston Transportation Department be able to spot traffic problems faster, allowing us to spend more time fixing problems and less time looking for them.
  • A Healthier Environment:  This plan will help us see how our bike, parking and traffic management policies are impacting vehicle usage in the city; with this intelligency, the City will be able to see how it can meet its aggressive climate action goals by 2020.

The work will focus on collecting data from the City’s existing network of traffic cameras and sensors and analyzing that data to perform near real-time vehicle counts. By this, Boston hopes to reduce vehicle use and greenhouse gas emissions and improve its environment and traffic flow by giving City managers and residents the information they need to evaluate and adjust transportation policies and programs.

As part of the effort, Boston University will team with the city and IBM to help analyze and model the data. 

"We look forward to working with the City and the team from IBM on the Smarter Cities Challenge grant," said BU President Dr. Robert A. Brown.   "With the expertise that Boston University can offer, we expect that we will help identify ideas that will have a positive impact in both traffic management and environmental improvement."

IBM chose cities that made the strongest case for participating in the Smarter Cities Challenge. During the selection process, 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, sustainability, budget management and energy.

IBM received 140 applications from 40 countries. Boston is one of 33 cities around the world that are receiving grants this year. In the US, Atlanta, Durham, N.C., Houston, Jacksonville, Fla., Louisville, and Pittsburgh will also receive grants.

The approximate value of each Smarter Cities Challenge grant is about $400,000. 

"The cities that have been selected are all different, but they had one clear similarity: the strong personal commitment by the city's leadership to put in place the changes needed help the city make smarter decisions," said Stanley S. Litow, IBM vice president of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs, and President of IBM's International Foundation. "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."

IBM's Smarter Cities Challenge is an outgrowth of IBM's Corporate Service Corps grants program, in which IBM deploys teams of top employees to areas in the developing world to work on projects that intersect business, technology and society. Since the launch of Corporate Service Corps in 2008, nearly 1,400 IBM employees based in 50 countries have been dispatched on more than 140 team assignments in 24 countries.

About the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics

Founded by Mayor Thomas M. Menino in 2010, the Office of New Urban Mechanics is a civic innovation incubator.  It focuses on piloting transformative City services that leverage new technology and engage residents.   For its work, the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics has been awarded Best Mobile App for Government & Participation (World Summit Awards, 2010); Best of Massachusetts, Excellence in  Technology Award (Center for Digital Government, 2011); and Public Officials of the Year (Governing Magazine, 2011)



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