Allahabad, Surat and Vizag win IBM Smarter Cities challenge grant in India

IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge program (@CitiesChallenge) will be sending teams of company experts to Allahabad, Surat and Vizag to help them address city-specific challenges such as waste management, citizen services and disaster management.

IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge is a pro bono initiative that helps cities with critical issues ranging from jobs creation, transportation, and public safety, to healthcare, revenue, social services, and public works.

The 16 winners for 2015-16 were selected from a highly competitive pool of more than 100 cities around the world that applied for a grant of consulting services from IBM. By the end of 2016, IBM will have made such Smarter Cities Challenge grants to more than 130 cities worldwide chosen from more than 600 applicants, with nearly 800 of IBM top experts delivering pro bono services valued at more than USD $66 million. Each consulting engagement has a commercial value of USD $500,000.

For the first time, in addition to providing pro bono consulting services, the company will use IBM Watson Analytics Professional Edition to help take the city’s pulse, as expressed on social media. This might include studying travel patterns, public health, or the effects of man-made and weather events. The tool can understand questions posed in natural, non-technical language, and help its users collaborate, predict and plan.

Here’s how a typical Smarter Cities Challenge engagement works:

After intense preparation, IBM Smarter Cities Challenge teams, made up of six IBM experts, spend three weeks working closely with city staff in each winning city, analyzing data about a critical issue facing the municipality. Team members consider diverse perspectives on the topic through meeting with local officials, citizens, businesses, and not-for-profits. Best practices used by other cities are studied.

After working closely with city leadership, the IBM team then recommends innovative and specifically tailored ways to address the issue it studied in that particular city, providing a road map on how the city can improve. Past recipients of the Smart Cities Challenge grant in India are Delhi, Ahmedabad, Pune and Chennai.

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