SCC Brussels Challenge – the Roller Coaster Ride just started …

So finally the SCC Brussels team has hit the ground. We arrived here on Sunday while our US colleagues were stuck in the USA due to snow storm and had almost 48 hours travel time since they left their home. Indeed rough start but we all are champions and ready to take on the challenge.

So we are Brussels, which is the Belgian capital and also the seat of European Union parliament and an important hub for the international businesses. We have been given the challenge to recommend solution which address the mobility challenge of Brussels. As per the statistics it is one of the top most congested cities of Europe. Hmm, indeed, interesting challenge to solve.

It has been an intense time since we have hit the ground, but exciting as well. Especially when we see the commitment from the city leaders and all the involved stakeholders.  Best of part being IBMer is we are truly global. We are team of six experts who have never worked together or ever met each other. But in couple of minutes as a team we have got rolling and been excited to be part of this challenge at the same time knowing each other.

 

We had kick-off event on 24th Feb with Minister of Mobility Mr Pascal Smet, and Secretary of state Bianca Debaets along with approximately 60 stakeholders associated with mobility and transportation. This event has got press coverage and was a great start to create awareness among the stakeholders as well as citizens. Here is the photo of the event.

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It was good event where Mr Smet shared his vision on how we sees the Brussels Capital region. Primarily it should aim on the quality of life for citizens. He put it crisply that we as humans are social beings. But with our current life style, where we drive for long hours, instead of having better human interaction, we spend long hours frustrating ourselves in traffic. If we really care about ourselves and the environment then more and more we need to adopt public transportation and reduce the strain on the mobility network.

Brussels Capital region is unique that it is divided into Brussels city and 19 municipalities surrounding the city,where each of the stakeholder is responsible for their own zone. In addition Brussels as a city gets traffic from all the various regions of Belgiumwhich makes the mobility issues bit more complicated as it involves actors or stakeholders from other regions and municipalities.

In last two days we spent a good amount of time having meetings with various stakeholders. It is very positive and encouraging to see that all want to resolve the mobility challenge the citizens of Brussels capital region are facing today.

We have few more days of interviews and understanding the cause of traffic congestion and how best we could get our expertise to resolve it. We know there is lot to do so stay tuned till next blog.

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Let’s ask some questions on city data

Let’s ask some questions on city data
To understand the city’s various strata
Which buildings are at greatest risk of fire?
Which neighborhoods state are most dire?
Or when did the crime rate start to crater?

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The life of a patrol officer is full of stress

The life of a patrol officer is full of stress

Responding to 911 calls can be such a mess

Important information is scattered all around

Relevant context is so tricky to be found

Dallas’ finest need intelligence on a single button-press

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Week 2 in Dallas: Horses, Patrol Cars and Libraries….

Highlight of our first weekend here was an outing to Austin Ranch (near DFW ariport) for some horseback riding.  It was a beautiful day, the horses behaved well, and after the ride we had a great steak dinner in the afternoon sunlight.

Joe Doria on his horse, also called Joe - pushy and troublesome.  And the horse wasn't much better....

Joe Doria on his Arabian horse, also called Joe – pushy and troublesome. And the horse wasn’t much better….

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Steak dinner in the afternoon sun.

Monday it was back to work and a meeting with the AC Gonzalez (City Manager).  Throughout the week we meet a great range of city officials and community leaders.  We spent time with the Crimewatch Executive Board (CWEB),  and had a morning finding out what it’s really like in a police control car.  At the end of the week we visited Dallas Central Library.   They have some great exhibits, including one of the first prints of the American Declaration of Independence, and one of the original Shakespeare Folios.  They also have a inspiring leader in Jo Guidice, who shared her vision of libraries as information and learning centres, and helped us understand their role in economic regeneration.

We’re taking the evening off and hoping to see some hockey (Dallas Stars vs. Florida Panthers) – but back to work tomorrow, as we enter our final week and get to work in earnest on our report…..

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Public safety needs community engagement

Public safety needs community engagement
Apathy and mistrust just leads to mutual enragement
So, Dallas, share data fearlessly
Let the community interact with you seamlessly
And together, y’all can be stars in a single strong firmament.

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There are data silos in Dallas

There are data silos in Dallas
Leaving them as is would be callous
So data we will integrate
And innovation we will stimulate
And help make Dallas even more marvelous.

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Making Dallas safer for prosperity and neighborhood revitalization

With week one in the rear view mirror, the SCC Dallas team is absorbing and contemplating all we’ve learned in a relatively short period of time.  Dallas is a great city with a very bright future.  The city leaders are very ambitious to do more and bring prosperity, vitality, and hope for a better life to the people who live here.  Continuing to make Dallas a safer place is the key focus of this Smarter Cities Challenge, and in particular how data and technology can be the enabler in doing this.
This past week we spent the majority of our time engaging and listening to city and community leaders.  A very interesting and intriguing week for sure.  What I found without exception are very smart and dedicated people who apply their skill and talent to the work of the City.  I have been energized through meeting each of them.   We will continue to do more interviews in the first part of this coming week, and then we will get on to developing some ideas and recommendations for them to consider.
I would be remiss to not talk about my fellow IBMers in this first blog.  We have quickly come together and feel like I’ve known each of them for a long time already.  We are all very complementary in what we bring to this, kudos to our SSC Program Leaders in the design.  We have a great balance on our team including respect, comradarie, pride (and humor) — and the promise of bringing real value to the challenge that is before us.
Looking forward to next week and sharing more!

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