We’re off to a strong finish as we begin the final week of our Smarter Cities Challenge project in Greece. We’ve met with 40-plus municipality officials, members of the technology community, and private organizations who have all been extremely gracious with their time and willingness to share knowledge.
A highlight has been meeting with the local academic communities. We were honored to be invited to the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki to give a guest lecture to students. The university is the sixth oldest and among the most highly ranked academic institutions in Greece. Named after the philosopher Aristotle, who was born about 30 minutes east of Thessaloniki, it is the largest university in the country and the Balkans with more than 80,000 students.
The team was hosted by the school’s Urban & Regional Information Research Lab and attendees included graduate and post graduate students studying urban planning, civil architecture, engineering and computer science. The lab conducts research and offers scientific and technological services in the field of innovation systems and intelligent cities. We were asked to speak on four topics:
- Background on the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge initiative, including the grant awarded to Thessaloniki and the work underway to help the municipality with their open data efforts.
- Introduce the Design Thinking concept and the ways IBM is using this approach to foster innovation.
- Share details on IBM’s approach to Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Computing with an understanding of the history of Watson and commercial progress.
- An understanding of IBM’s open platform for developers, Bluemix, with a demonstration of how student developers can experiment and build with the technology today.
The 50-plus students and faculty who joined the interactive discussion shared terrific and insightful views. Many probed further regarding sustainable approaches for improving cities, raised issues related to data privacy, and also the unique cultural challenges Greek cities face. A group of coders were especially eager to learn more about building apps with Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive. Others asked about real-world examples of how these new technologies are benefiting society today and the ways they’ll collaborate with these technologies in their respective professions in the future.
IBM’s Georgios Pakos, Lia Davis, Priscilla Parodi, and Rahul Chenny speak to students and faculty during a guest lecture at Aristotle University
Our sincere thanks to the university’s Rector, Pericles A. Metkas, the head of the Urenio Lab Dr. Nicos Komninos, and all the students and faculty who warmly welcomed us to the university.
It reaffirmed our belief that the city is overflowing with bright minds who have the know-how and skills to make a positive impact for Thessaloniki.