IBM today announced a plan to give away $50 million of its services and technology over the next three years to 100 municipalities through a program the company is calling the Smarter Cities Challenge.
Funded via IBM’s philanthropic division, according to an IBM press statement, the Smarter Cities program aims to help municipalities around the world— with populations of 100,000 to 700,000 ideally— solve local problems in any of the following areas: healthcare, education, safety, social services, transportation, communications, sustainability, budget management, energy, and utilities.
The approximate value of each Smarter Cities Challenge grant will be equivalent to US$400,000. The company has alrady completed or is currently conducting a series of pilot grants in Baltimore, Maryland; Austin, Texas; and Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. Other municipalities can apply online via SmarterCitiesChallenge.org, and will be selected based on a number of criteria including their track record of problem solving, commitment to the use of technology and open data, and willingness to provide IBM with access to and time with city leaders.
Teams of IBM experts will provide chosen cities with recommendations for better delivery of municipal services, more citizen engagement, and improved efficiency and access to proprietary IBM technology like the company’s CityForward, a kind of social network for city leaders, academics, and citizens that is also a city data analysis and data visualization platform.
The grant giving entity IBM stands to prime their sales pipeline by increasing their experience in Gov 2.0, Healthcare and Smart Grid verticals, with their generous, charitable effort.