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City of Houston Receives IBM Grant

Smarter Cities Challenge 2012

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By winning one of IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge Grant, Houston will receive expert analysis and recommendations for sustainable improvements, according to The Mayor’s Office:

“As the fourth largest city in the U.S., Houston has a diverse and dynamic population with unique needs to address,” said Mayor Parker. “We need to take advantage of available technologies to share information and resources to address our most pressing issues. Partnerships like the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge will bring new ideas to the table. I am grateful IBM is lending their expertise to help Houstonians learn more about what their city has to offer.”

Once in Houston, a grant-funded IBM team will work with city officials to explore ways to connect school-aged students to public services that strengthen families and schools, including the provision of some public services online; make relevant data on programs, services and resources more readily available; and strengthen collaboration with the Houston Independent School District. The project will build upon the work being done by the city’s Department of Neighborhoods, established by Mayor Parker in 2010 to reorganize many divisions that were previously dispersed through the city and create a one-stop shop for citizens needing assistance with neighborhood issues.

Houston was one of 140 applicants and 32 cities worldwide selected by IBM that made the strongest case for participating in the Smarter Cities Challenge.

“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.”

The approximate value of each Smarter Cities Challenge grant is equivalent to as much as US$400,000. 
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.

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Houston Tomorrow, working with board member Stan Bilski of IBM, helped bring the company together with the City in 2010 for a grant application that was not successful, but led to this award. IBM, along with McKinsey and Siemens, will participate in a Sustainable Cities: The Business View conference on May 3, 2012.  Details to be announced.

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