This is the third and last week for the SCC Faro Team. We’ve been extremely busy conducting interview and preparing our report. Additional meetings included meeting with the Vice Rector of the University of Algarve, representatives from Marlgarve Association, officials from the Regional Director of Agriculture and Fisheries and Hydrologist Institute, National Parks and the Navy. Most of our days have been long but always having a bit of a break for to enjoy the gastronomy of the region at dinner.
This past Saturday morning we started our day speaking with entrepreneurs in Faro. We had a stimulating discussion and shared told them about the IBM Global Entrepreneur Program. Next we were off to tour a home for disabled persons. Although we are connected through technologies the best connection is still always the human connection as shown by the common bond of Boy Scouts that Barry had with Ricardo. Next off to lunch and then back to work.
On Sunday, we went to a horse jumping show at Vilamoura, walked through the marina, had a chance to glance at the sea and drove through Vale do Lobo, an upscale resort.
We continue to enjoy the panoramic sunsets of the Ria Farmosa through our SCC Faro office window with a piece of mind knowing that we had had another successful day.
Today is Monday and we’ve completed our draft of our slide deck for the final presentation. By the end of the day we hope to have a first draft of the report. The focus of our report will be the Economy of the Sea, Tourism and Innovation.
Now we have to say good-bye.
After a busy first week and squeezing in a few more hours of work on Saturday morning we were ready to shut down our laptops and have a bit of rest and relaxation. We started the morning getting to know Faro on segways and then headed to the mercado.
At the mercado we met the Chef of the Culinary School of Tourismo de Portugal who described the types of fish and vegetables available in the Algarve. Then we purchased ingredients to prepare our lunch. After using our culinary skills with assistance from the Chef and his students we had a tasty meal of fish soup, cataplana, consisting of pork, clams and fish, and fig ice cream with almond cake. Sean, Antonio and Doris were ready for a nap, but Heather and Barry continued to explore around Faro in a smart car. Later that evening we dined at Faz Gostos and had a special treat seeing their wine cellar that historically had been used for security tunnels to hide from enemies.
On Sunday, we took a boat around the Ria Farmosa on a beautiful sunny day, lunched at an eco-friendly restaurant on Ilha Deserta and then strolled along the beach and then continued our walk along an extended boardwalk, designed to protect the environment.
Visit at IBM Office in Portugal
Today was a road trip to Lisbon. We left Faro bright and early driving north though the hills covered with cork trees and vineyards.
Our first stop was the IBM office in the Parque das Nacoes section of Lisbon. We had a brief opportunity to meet individually with some extremely gifted IBM’ers in the Lisbon office. We also checked in with Portugal Country General Manager Antonio Raposo de Lima and Director of Human Resources, Antonio Cerejeria and then it was off to our first meeting of the day with Secretary of State for the Sea, Manuel Pinto de Abreu.
This meeting was informative as a number of key initiatives on data generation and data sharing for the marine environment will be passed by the legislature tomorrow. The Secretary spoke of the pending expansion of Portugal’s ocean territory and the challenges of monitoring this expanded territory, which will require using remote sensing and unattended.
We bid farewell to the Secretary and his staff and moved to a restaurant Cantinho do Avillez where we had another fantastic Portuguese meal. The seafood was superb as usual (scallops with guacamole), but the surprise of the day was our first taste of Portuguese beef in a traditional sandwich. We were also able to meet some more of the Desafio Global team over lunch.
We hurried from the restaurant to our next meeting at the National Institute for Atmosphere and Sea Matters building. This was our first meeting where we interviewed more than one organization at a time. The interviewees were Joao Fonseca Ribeiro of General Directorate for Maritime Affairs (DGPM), Antonina dos Santos of the National Institute for Atmosphere and Sea Matters and a representative (Anna) of Doscapesca. These three organizations have responsibility for the developing and instituting marine policy, collecting and disseminating meteorological and oceanic data and running the national “first sale” fish markets, taxing the catch and ensuring food safety (Doscapesca). It was a rare opportunity to get the perspective of the agencies charged with policy, data, and running the fish markets in a single meeting. We were encouraged to learn that the data sharing and use among the three agencies is on the increase.
Meetings with National Government Officials in Lisbon
We recharged at a one-of-a-kind pastry shop in Lisbon, Pasteis de Belem, and then boarded the van for the long ride back to Faro, arriving around 8:45 PM.
Today was another full day of key meetings with government, business, and academia. We started the day with a morning meeting with Duarte Padinha, a key leadership figure at the Portuguese Tourism Office for the Algarve. It was a good open meeting where he shared strategy in branding the Algarve region, while highlighting the challenges in accurate or available metrics on tourism statistics and insightful analytics. Duarte provided us data in the categories that we seek in each meeting around improved economic development, public and private collaboration, and open data platform feedback.
After wrapping up at the tourism office, we quickly drive across the city to the University of Algarve to meet with Tomasz Boski, Vice Reitor. Though Tomasz was fairly new in his role, he shared valuable insight including what he believed was working and not working between the university and the private business sector. He was very interested in some of the IBM research we shared with him around water initiatives. We gathered some valuable data points around the universities role in the region as well as their role in helping develop business and skills for the region.
At the conclusion of our meeting at the University, we met with a local business leader, Antonio Farinha, and his Vice President, Joao Pinto for lunch at a fantastic restaurant we had been to a couple of nights previously with the Mayor and our IBM Country GM. During our lunch, we got a unique view of the Algarve region from one of the more successful businessmen who not only shared how his 200 year old company was driving economic development, but also what challenges he was facing in the region. He invited us to his fishery later in the day which we gladly accepted. He was very open to sharing his thoughts and ideas and what he believed was necessary to drive economic growth in the region.
We wrapped up lunch and headed to our next meeting with the Regional Director for Economy in the Algarve, Gilberto Viegas. It was a brief meeting where he shared his thoughts and ideas from a government position on what challenges in economic growth the region was facing.
At the conclusion of that meeting, we quickly headed back to the hotel where we all changed in to clothes that would be more conducive to a visit to Antonio Farinha’s fishery. This was the highlight of the day for all of us as he gave us a very detailed view into the operations for growing, harvesting, inspecting, and distributing their products (clams, mussels, oysters, fish, etc) from their aquaculture operations.
So as we sit and write our update for the day, we are all pretty tired, but feel it was an incredibly productive day. Tomorrow we start all over again at 6am as we get ready to head up to Lisbon for a full day of meetings with government stakeholders as well as collaborative meetings with our IBM Portugal colleagues.
The Smarter Cities Challenge (SCC) Team will provide a roadmap for Faro, Portugal to implement their 2025 strategy for economic growth. Faro is the main city of the Algarve region in Southern Portugal which has become a very successful tourist designation over the past 40 years. The dynamic SCC Faro Team is comprised of Antonio Pires Santos, Business Development Executive – Smarter Cities Leader, Lisboa, Portugal; Barry Becker, Director, Data Center Services Center of Excellence, Austin, TX; Heather Howell, US Diversity & Inclusion Leader – Global Constituency Programs, Sacramento, CA; Sean McKenna, Research Staff Member and Manager, Mulhuddart, Ireland; and Doris McGuire, Senior Managing Consultant, Global Business Services, Louisville, KY.
On Sunday, 9 February our team hit the ground running as we quickly established a rapport and began working together to discuss our project. We greatly appreciate the extensive planning by Lara Campos and Marta Brigido, IBM Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs (CCCA), to ensure that the team had everything needed to make a smooth transition to Faro. Celia Moore, Director, CCCA, EMEA, provided a brief introduction and wished us well. On Monday, 10 February the team continued their strategic thinking to make the most effective use of our time and to ensure dedication to the SCC in Faro. After a busy day of work, the team enjoyed dinner at O Castelo with the Mayor Rogerio Bacalhau; Vice President Paulo Santos; Antonio Raposo de Lima, President of IBM Portugal; and Antonio Cerejeira, Director of Human Resources and Member of IBM Portugal Board of Directors. We enjoyed delicacies of many tasty items including the main dish as a highlight, Cataplanna, a platter of mixed seafood, caught off the coast of Faro. On Tuesday, 11 February, the Mayor’s office hosted the public launching of SCC. The event was well attended and the team enjoyed discussing important matters of Faro with government officials, others from the private sector, non-governmental organizations, and the press.