Something Positive for a Change
by Texas Nate, Thu Dec 16, 2010 at 12:26:38 PM EST
I've long been accused of being a Negative Nate, and it's probably deserved. What can I say, my cup is half-empty, half-filled with corrosive bile.
But here's something very positive that IBM and cities from China to Brazil to the United States, including my hometown of Austin are working on. I've gotten very skeptical of huge global solutions, but smaller steps like this are doable and effective:
By now, you've probably seen those IBM commercials that end with the tag line "building a better planet." Those commercials reference IBM's Smarter Cities Challenge. This is a program whereby IBM will award $50 million worth of technology and consulting services to 100 cities around the world - 50 of them in North America.
The Smarter Cities grant would be helpful in dealing with any number of challenges that Columbus, Cleveland or Cincinnati face, ranging from from finding ways to streamline city administration to helping transit management through innovative technology applications. IBM sends experts to the winning cities to help them address major issues like traffic, public safety, economic development or sustainability - all things that could prove useful to places like Toledo, Dayton, or Akron.
A program like this helps cities foster citizen engagement, services and efficiency through technology, resulting in an better standard of living citizens. It fascinates me because it marries two of my interests: public engagement and technology.
Pericles of Athens - who was perhaps the first mayor of a city - once said: "All things good of this earth flow into the City because of the City's greatness." IBM's Smarter Cities program helps cities foster citizen engagement, services and efficiency through technology, resulting in an better standard of living for the people of the city.
It fascinates me because it marries two of my interests: public engagement and technology, at a level that affects us immediately and regularly: the local level. And this isn't just theoretical.
Already, IBM teams have worked in Austin, TX , Baltimore, MD, Mecklenburg County, NC, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Katowice, Poland and Chengdu, China.
An IBM team helped address disparities between East and West Austin by helping the city coordinate and prioritize infrastructure investments.
I can attest from first-hand experience that IBM's work in East Austin has made a big impact on the city, for the better. Video after the jump.
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