IBM consultants to help 5 cities tackle actionable projects
- IBM's Smarter Cities Challenge chose five cities — Busan, Korea; Palermo, Italy; San Isidro, Argentina; San Jose, U.S.; and Yamagata, Japan — to send teams of experts to provide consulting services on issues ranging from affordable housing to public safety, free of charge.
- IBM is planning to use Watson, an AI platform, in at least some of the consulting projects this year. Sophia Tu, director of corporate citizenship at IBM, told Smart Cities Dive in an interview that what, exactly, Watson could be used for would be figured out once the team was on the ground. She added that they'd be looking at "data that hasn't been tapped before."
- According to Jennifer Crozier, IBM's vice president of Corporate Citizenship, and president of the IBM Foundation, the teams will be looking for projects that can be tightly scoped and completed in a few weeks, but, with one stipulation. "Certainly, we say to cities, that their expectation is that they're going to pay it forward," Crozier told Smart Cities Dive.
Parachuting into five global cities to help solve specific problems is a continuation of IBM's foray into developing smart cities. The company has made over 130 grants since 2010 at a value of over $65 million. The program has evolved since it launched, especially with IBM's integration of Watson AI technology and the company's acquisition of The Weather Company, giving the pro-bono consultants access to even more data points.
Plenty of firms are focusing on harnessing AI, and some, like Pittsburgh and Las Vegas, have already seen concrete results — less traffic for residents. The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded money in its own smart cities challenge.
As more cities get on board with smart cities and the idea evolves, cities are going to have to continue to adapt. Challenges, like the one from IBM, allow cities to jump feet first into projects that city leaders have wanted to tackle.
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