Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Grants Available For “Smarter Cities,” Courtesy of @IBM

IBM has started the application process for its third “Smarter Cities Challenge” which will award municipal leaders who have a track record of innovation and collaboration.

The Smarter Cities Challenge is a competitive grant program that focuses on making cities more livable. Typically, the program leverages technology and services, donated by IBM, to improve processes and create new initiatives.  This is a significant program, and 100 cities around the world will have benefited from it. After the 2013 Challenge cycle, IBM will have provided $50 million worth of technology and services to those communities.

How Does It Work?
Typically, winners would benefit from immersive, three-week engagements with a team of IBM experts. The staffers would have a range of disciplines, depending on the issue being addressed.

According to program documentation, the applications for the Smarter City Challenge will be evaluated on the strength of the proposal, and the potential for the IBM grant to make a difference. Specifically, IBM is looking for submissions that:
  • Outline a Problem: IBM isn’t looking for a solution to be implemented; rather, they are looking for a clear problem or opportunity to explore.
  • Prove It’s a Priority: The proposal should be connected to top priorities and challenges of the city; evidence should be provided to demonstrate such prioritization.
  • Show Interconnectedness: The proposal should “emphasize cross-system or services challenges.” In other words, these shouldn't be simple problems—they should be complex issues that reflect the challenges of a city that is really a “system of systems.”
Prior Winners, Examples
  • Boston, MA: Project involved complex data mapping and sharing to monitor greenhouse gas emissions; Boston has a goal to reduce emissions 25 percent by 2020.
  • Durham, NC: Project involved the creation of data-driven strategies to address the disparity of educational achievement and economic opportunity for its youth.
  • Dortmund, Germany: Roadmap for a ‘Dortmund Talent Initiative,’ to attract new businesses to the region and train workers for jobs in a 21st century economy.
  • Cheongju, Korea: Reduce traffic congestion and promote more sustainable forms of transit, such as public transit, cycling or walking.
Other examples of recipients and their programs from prior years can be found here.

A downloadable application is also available.

Applications for grants must be submitted by Sept. 7, 2012.

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