Negri Sembilan earns IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grant


GETTING A BOOST: One of the brightly lit stretches in Seremban town, in Negri Sembilan. IBM’s top experts, who will analyse and recommend ways that the state can become an even better place in which to live and work.

PETALING JAYA: IBM has selected the state of Negri Sembilan to receive its Smarter Cities Challenge grant next year.

Negri Sembilan joins 30 cities all over the world that gain access to some of IBM’s top experts, who will analyse and recommend ways that the state can become an even better place in which to live and work.

“The state distinguished itself among its peers by convincingly demonstrating its preparation and willingness to make the kind of improvements that will improve its residents’ quality of life and become a smarter city,” said Stanley S. Litow, IBM vice-president of corporate citizenship and corporate affairs.

Launched in 2011, the Smarter Cities Challenge is a three-year, 100-city, US$50mil (RM150mil) competitive grant programme.

The programme, which is IBM’s single-largest philanthropic initiative, assigns a team of six top IBM experts to each winning city to study a key issue identified by the city’s leadership.

Well before the team arrives for its three-week pro bono consulting engagement, valued at US$400,000 (RM1.2mil), IBM staff are already studying the issue.

After the experts come in, the team works with officials to analyse data, and solicit the input of dozens of local agencies and advocacy groups.

IBM then provides detailed recommendations on how the city might efficiently and effectively address the issue.

Areas of focus

For year-three of the Smarter Cities Challenge, cities around the world once again competed vigorously to benefit from IBM’s talent.

The winning cities proposed innovative projects and areas of focus for IBM experts. These included strategies that address:

1. Economic and workforce development — reducing local dependence on a single industry;

2. Social services — creating an ecosystem that supports independent living for a growing senior citizen community;

3. Sustainability — setting policies around billing rates, electric vehicle use, and solar power generation on an upgraded power grid;

4. Capital budget planning — enabling citizens to request expenditures, while analysing their potential impact; and

5. Urban planning — taking a more systematic, data-driven approach to housing policy, downtown revitalisation, zoning, and permits.

Other recipients of the 2013 Smarter Cities Challenge grant include Belfast (Britain), Buffalo (United States), Christchurch (New Zealand), Gurgaon (India), Khon Kaen (Thailand), Makati City, (the Philippines), and Pingtung County (Taiwan).

To find out more about the Smarter Cities Challenge, go to www.smartercitieschallenge.org.

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