Ghana’s Sekondi City only African city in IBM’s ‘Smarter Cities Challenge’ programme

Sekondi City has been named among 16 named in IBM's Smarter Cities Challenge program (@CitiesChallenge) in Africa.

IBM will be sending teams of company experts to 16 municipalities around the world through 2016 to help cities with critical issues ranging from jobs creation, transportation, and public safety, to healthcare, revenue, social services, and public works.

Other cities that won include Allahabad, India,Amsterdam, Netherlands, Athens (Greece), Denver, (United States) Detroit (United States), Huizhou, (China), Melbourne, (Australia), Memphis, (United States), Rochester, (New York, United States), San Isidro, (Peru), Santiago, (Chile), Surat, (India), Taichung, (Taiwan), Vizag,(India) and Xuzhou, (China).

The 16 winners for 2015-16 were selected from a highly competitive pool of more than 100 cities around the world that applied for a grant of consulting services from IBM. By mid 2016, IBM will have made such Smarter Cities Challenge grants to more than 130 cities worldwide chosen from more than 600 applicants, with nearly 800 of IBM top experts delivering pro bono services valued at more than US $ 66 million. Each consulting engagement has a commercial value of US $500,000.

For the first time, in addition to providing pro bono consulting services, the company will use IBM Watson Analytics Professional Edition to uncover trends in city data. This might include studying travel patterns, public health, or the effects of man-made and weather events. The tool can understand questions posed in natural, non-technical language, and help its users collaborate, predict and plan.

Also for the first time, three of the winning cities Detroit, Melbourne, and Memphis will receive access to historic and current Twitter data pertaining to their cities. In at least one of those cities, an expert from Twitter will join the IBM team on the ground to perform deep analysis of the Twitter data. (The two companies have a partnership in which IBM provides clients with cloud-based technology for analyzing Twitter data, driving better decision-making.) Providing the social media data and related services of Twitter’s experts is valued at US $50,000.

Jennifer Crozier, IBM’s Vice President of Global Citizenship Initiatives, congratulated the winners, saying, “With the help of our experts, cities around the world are now able to better use data and transform the way they engage citizens, deliver service, and make their cities more liveable. We thank all those who have applied and feel fortunate to be in the position of providing IBM’s best talent, innovation, and resources to help so many cities improve. Over the next year, we’re eager to work with this new group of leaders to make their cities smarter.”

Here’s how a typical Smarter Cities Challenge engagement works: After intense preparation, IBM Smarter Cities Challenge teams, made up of six IBM experts, spend three weeks working closely with city staff in each winning city, analyzing data about a critical issue facing the municipality. Team members consider diverse perspectives on the topic through meeting with local officials, citizens, businesses, and not-for-profits. Best practices used by other cities are studied. After working closely with city leadership, the IBM team then recommends innovative and specifically tailored ways to address the issue it studied in that particular city, providing a road map on how the city can improve.

Smarter Cities Challenge engagements have delivered quantifiable results. In fact, IBM has helped cities around the world to significantly improve the quality of life for their residents. Projects informed by IBM advice have helped to upgrade skills of city staff, enabled cities to win prestigious awards, and made them more competitive.

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