Back to School

Posted on behalf of SCC Zapopan team member Patricia Waldron

As part of our Smarter Cities Challenge we’re spending time in the community, Meeting citizens and experiencing the local culture is one of the highlights of the program.

We had the privilege visiting University of Guadalajara, one of 30+ higher education institutions in the state of Jalisco, with a student body of more than 100,000.

PhD Anyone ???

We held a panel discussion and Q&A session, attended by 100+ graduate students, where we discussed innovations for Smarter Cities. We also had small discussion groups with the PhD students where we shared information and discussed how new technologies can help cities improve sustainability and quality of life for citizens.


When does 1+ 1 = 5 ???

IBM and the University of Guadalajara are more than neighbors. There is a Smarter Cities Exploration Center at the University of Guadalajara (UdeG) supported by technical and intellectual guidance of IBM’s global research lab experts. The Center is the first of its kind in Latin America and IBM’s data analytics, supercomputing and cloud computing capabilities will be used by the University’s students to drive the development of new pilots and solutions for vital services such as transportation, healthcare, education, public safety, energy and water challenges faced by Guadalajara and other cities around the world. We toured the Center with Dr Victor Larios (@VMLarios)


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Welcome to Niigata!

The SCC Niigata team members (Issei Yoshida, Jeremiah Gibber, Akira Sakakibara, David DLima, Huong Morris, Satsumi Takeo) met up in Tokyo and enjoyed a smooth Joetsu Shinkansen ride to Niigata. What a warm welcome when we arrived at Niigata Station on Sunday 17th August morning!


Our first team meeting over lunch, with program executive Ai Ogawa, local co-ordinator Kazuhide Suzuki and translator Miyoki Hara at a local sushi restaurant was much appreciated by all – working lunch meant deferring the chance to sample the local specialty sake but we caught up with that soon enough over dinner the next day with the distinguished Mayor Akira Shinoda, and some special local cultural performers.

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Niigata has so many attractions – and a wonderful combination of modern and traditional, like so many things in Japan. Contrast this view of the popular imode feature phone menu (quite a change from iPhone and Android apps, that we are used to) with this interactive application at the Ikutopia Food & Flower Complex to tell you how healthy and food group-balanced your meal was (the picture shows a terrible score, reflecting the two beers consumed as well!); also check out this magnificent view of Niigata from the viewing level of the 31st floor of the “Toki Messe’ International Convention Center (the Next 21 is in the background looking out towards Sea of Japan), with the historic Bandai Bridge across the Shinano River.

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Two other memorable city sights for us were the Furumachi Street Market area (looking deserted on weekday afternoon) and the Saito Family Summer Villa, with its huge private garden with carp pond. Both are truly special and reflect parts of the city that more tourists should visit, as the city is now largely known for its food (rice, fruit and vegetables) and sake.

Mall Jpeg

Finally we did see buses of the excellent public transportation system, but they seemed quite empty! Food for thought… Jpeg

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Art & Science in Guadalajara

Posted on behalf of SCC Zapopan team member Patricia Waldron

We spent a day with the IBM Mexico team at the Guadalajara (GDL) campus. Over 5000 IBMers work there and it is an amazing place – the facility, the people and the products.

The facility

The IBM Guadalajara facility was built in 1975 with the objective of creating a plant for people integrating the Mexican Character with the local environment.   The overall exterior design has a certain rhythm offering a variety of “claro oscuro” with a sense of order creating a pleasant atmosphere. Typical of Mexico is the use of plaster finish with strong color on the exterior walls.


The view above shows how the architects also took creative license with the building – doesn’t it look like a punch card??

The people


Eugenio generously spent time with our team giving us insight on IBM’s long history in Mexico, the current industry and business challenges. Over half of the people in GDL work in manufacturing, and it is where all the Power Systems shipped to the Americas and EMEA are produced. Santiago Bribiesca gave us a tour of the factory – it was the first time that many of our #SCCZapopan team had been to this type of IBM facility – more on that below. There are an additional ~1700 people in the shared services group for finance, admin and supply chain.   The balance are GBS AMS teams.

IBM is part of an ‘Industrial Cluster’ in the Guadalajara area that includes other tech companies like HP, Foxcomm and Siemens. This area of Jalisco is known as the Silicon Valley of Mexico. Our Smarter Cities Challenge is to help the municipality of Zapopan replicate this concept for the Agro-Food industry.

The Products

 Year-to-date more than 20,000 Power Systems have been produced and shipped from GDL. The plant is immense! The team configures, tests and packs the systems.


 Two of our #SCCZapopan have special ties to this plant:

Manuel Avalos lives in GDL. We are the first team to have a local IBMer as part of Smarter Cities Challenge for a local municipality. We think it’s great, as Manuel has given us lots of insight and has relationships with some of our stakeholders.

Claude Basso is a DE who worked on the research team to develop the Power Systems chip set. The plant team was excited to meet Claude as he was to see his efforts brought to life!


Speaking of IBMers …… Carlos Saucedo, Corporate Citizenship Director for Mexico, is in some respects the most important member of our extended team. He and his organization have been responsible for the amazing agenda, arrangements and media coverage of #SCCZapopan.   And stay tuned – a film crew is arriving next week to start production of a video on our project.


I think the Smarter Cities Challenge is equally beneficial for IBMer development as it is for the municipalities we are supporting!

Next week we meet more of the GDL local team next week. We’ll spend our time turning our observations and recommendations into final deliverables and rehearsing our presentation to the Mayor of Zapopan.

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Getting to know the province of KwaZulu-Natal

On Sunday, the team was on the move to see the province of KwaZulu-Natal which includes the eThekwini Municipality. We traveled to the Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve which is the oldest game reserve in Africa established in 1895.  We enjoyed seeing some of South Africa’s treasures which appear on the South African Rand notes: Cheetah, Elephants, Lions, Rhinoceros.  As well as Giraffe, Impala, Warthogs, Wildebeest and Zebras.


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Phase 1: Listening and Learning

Starting August 12, the IBM team began an intensive 3 days of meetings with representatives from the eThekwini Municipality to gain an deeper understanding of the Municipality’s Social and Economic Development Programs as well as core functions such as Finance, Engineering, Tourism and Economic Development. At end of Week 1, the IBM Smarter Cities Team have met with 150 people and received substantial input through formal meetings, site visits and informal encounters.  We are grateful to the eThekwini Municipality government for provided access to their teams and enabling our listening and learning phase.

On Saturday, we gathered and reviewed all the input and there was a lot to discuss!

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Smarter Cities Challenge Durban 2014 is launched!

On August 12, we began our Smarter Cities Challenge with a formal launch at the eThekwini Municipality in the City Council chambers.  In attendance were His Worship the Mayor Cllr James Nxumalo, Deputy Mayor Cllr Nomvuzo Shabalala, Speaker Cllr Logie Naidoo, and Executive Council Members, Mr. Sibusiso Sithole, City Manager and Senior City Leaders. His Worship the Mayor Cllr James Nxumalo opened the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge which focusing on Economic Development in a joint meeting with the Executive Committee and IBM Smarter Cities Challenge team. Dr. Musa Gumede, Deputy City Manager: Health and Social Services, welcomed everyone and lead the meeting which included presentations by Mr. Eric Aplegren, Head of Department – International and Governance Relations at eThekwini Municipality, Mr. Ahmed Simjee, Smarter Cities Executive for IBM and Mr. Nduwuisi Emuchay spokesperson for the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge Duran Team.  Following the launch, the IBM team was excited to receive the challenge and immediately set to the task.

smarter cities team with Mayor 7 MM 2

Left to right:  Mr. Sibusiso Sithole, City Manager,  Nduwuisi Emuchay (IBM), Marie Esposito (IBM), Chris MacLaughlin (IBM), Mayor Cllr James Nxumalo, Lauren Luellwitz (IBM), Roby Massey (IBM), Doug Smith (IBM), Dr. Musa Gumede, Deputy City Manager: Health and Social Services, 

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Durban, South Africa: Our new home for the next 3 weeks

August 11 we got to know our new hometown of Durban which CNN named as one of the top 10 most underrated cities in the world. We started our day with a meeting at the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, with Andrew Layman, CEO.  Then we sampled the local culture by:

Warmest place to be

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