IBM helps Geraldton become a smarter city

The Western Australia city of Geraldton will receive help from IBM to create a roadmap to improve technology thanks to a grant as part of IBM’s Smart Cities Challenge.

Up to six IBM senior executives from around the world will reside in the city for three weeks and speak to businesses and citizens to ascertain the issues the city is facing. It will then recommend initiatives for improvement.

Miranda Scarff, manager of corporate citizenship and affairs at IBM Australia, told Computerworld that Geraldton’s grant submission was a standout, with the city highlighting its desire to make the most of technology infrastructure investments in the region and the National Broadband Network. The city also wants to improve data sharing between agencies.

“We’re seeing a convergence of factors which set the stage for rapid advances in the efficiency and scope of citizen services,” said Ian Carpenter, City of Greater Geraldton mayor, in a statement.

“IBM’s Smarter Cities grant comes at a pivotal time in Geraldton’s development as we seek to improve the living quality of all our citizens.”

Scarff said the aim of the grant wasn’t to provide software, but instead to create a clear roadmap for improvement.

“So they provide the city with an official report and recommendations about how to improve the liveability of the city in terms of whatever it is that the council put forward as projects to focus on,” she said.

"So it’s really up to Geraldton to further identify what projects they’d like the IBM experts to come and address and then we would put forward recommendations for the council."

The $50 million IBM Smarter Cities Challenge is a three-year program and part of the company’s philanthropic initiatives. It will provide technology and services to 100 municipalities worldwide over the course of the program. A total of 33 cities across the world will receive the grant in 2012, with Townsville, Queensland, the first Australian city to receive the grant.

Three IBM experts from the United States and three from Australia spent three weeks in Townsville working with the city to help it leverage data technology to help it become a sustainable city. The council is currently implementing initiatives such as collaborative portals for the community and strategies for smarter building management.

“We’re finding with most of the grants that have been done to date that the idea is certainly to share the lessons learnt with other cities around the world,” Scarff said.

By the end of 2012, 65 cities will have received the IBM grant. Applications for the 2013 program will open later this year.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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