Category Archives: Porto Alegre, Brazil

Back home… Porto Alegre, keep in touch!

Yesterday I landed back home in Haifa, Israel, after spending a few days in Madrid on my way back from Porto Alegre.  I promised the team that I would have a “concluding” blog, so here it is…  and who knows… as we try to keep the ball rolling, I hope to have good reasons to continue blogging.

Let me start with some thanks…  First to the ESC (Executive Services Corps) team to which I had the privilege to be a member of: Derek, Julie, Kent, Lisa, Mark, Patrick and Paul…  what a great team.  Looking back at the final presentation, I do think we have a lot to be proud of.  Being part of the first Citigroup/IBM team made it also very special.

Second, to the CDC team who was always there for us: Fernanda, Rodrigo, Vanessa…

Third to the local IBM team that supported us all along… and I know we managed to get them nervous (will we be able to reach some meaningful recommendations???): Alcely, Bruno, Juliana, and the local IBM team headed by Luis Toledo…

To Porto Alegre and its great citizens that made us feel welcome everywhere.  They are too many to mention, but still, a special thanks goes to Daniely Votto and Cesar Busatto…  Their passion for Porto Alegre had, without doubt, a tremendous influence in our work.

Many others contributed to our work, some knowingly, others less.  Rafael, our relentless translator that did not cease to amaze us with his ability to translate simultaneously, albeit struggling sometimes to understand…. Portuguese 🙂 !  The many taxi drivers that shared with us their point of view.  And many, many others!

Finally, to IBM for creating this fantastic program, and allowing us to be part of it!

As I see the blogs of new team coming on board, I can only be jealous…  You are all about to live a life-changing experience.

Here are a few random thoughts I would like to share:

  1. Brazil is an amazing country, loaded with positive energy, and it is no wonder that it is growing the way it is…  Don’t let the fast growth pace change the unique spirit of Brazil!
  2. Within Brazil, Porto Alegre is a unique gem.  I have to admit: I had not heard about Porto Alegre before my assignment, and the initial messages were, well, not the most exciting. However, I did discover a wonderful gaucho country that, as they say, borders with Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil!
  3. POA citizens care… maybe the most remarkable impression I carry out of Porto Alegre is the strong social involvement of its citizens.  It is definitely not surprising that Orçamento Participativo (Participatory Budgeting) was born in Porto Alegre.  The visit to the Marista center (either in person, or through our colleagues that were there) definitely left a mark on us.
  4. IBM is a technology company, and during my career, I do always get excited about technology.  But this assignment allowed us to understand how Technology can help, and how it can sometimes get in the way.  I definitely came out much smarter (no pun intended) about how technology can (or cannot) be applied to help in our day to day life.
  5. We all got to appreciate what it takes to run a city…  and how citizens need to be placed at the center of anything a city does.

To summarize, let me  add some selected pictures that will summarize everything we went through.  Given the focus on the individual, these will not be scenery pictures, but about the people:

The visit to IBM:


Our reception dinner at Jose Cezar Martins’ house:


Social activity:


Visiting the city:


Kick off meeting with Cesar Busatto:


A short video of our meeting with the COP…

Here is the link!

Visiting the kinder garden:








Matita pere, Samba!

Associacao Software Livre:


Centro Marista:


Dinner (again):


Final presentation!

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Farewell party:

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And with a touch of humor, this is the napkin where all started…


See you soon Porto Alegre!


Filed under Alumni reflections, Porto Alegre, Brazil

And now, to our feature presentation… Obrigado Porto Alegre!

Last night was a long one… rehearsal, finalizing the presentation, embedding the videos, finalizing the demos, etc.  A special thanks to our colleagues Sergio Borger and Mateus Molinaro Motta from IBM Research in Brazil.  Mateus did an outstanding job customizing the Smarter Board technology to our needs (more on this later), and we were sametiming (IBM-ish for instant messaging) until late, very late at night.  This morning, we hop on the bus, and with Lisa, continue working on the last minute logistics:


A lot of excitement on the bus:


We arrive quickly to Fundação Iberê Camargo (last night it took us over two hours to get back to the hotel!).  The team is ready:


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I will shamelessly point you to Daniely Votto’s tweet during the presentation:

Mark takes the stage

Patrick explains what a Cognitive City is about.

Paul shares our views on Collaborative Decision Making.

Julie explains what an Engaged City is about.

Alain wants to transform Porto Alegre into a leader in Connected Transportation:

Finally, Derek explains what are the key enablers to a Cognitive City:

Mark concludes the presentation, and the deputy Mayor, Sebastiao Melo responds to the team, emphasizing how IBM and Citi can collaborate by helping the citizens!

As we take the Q&A, we ran a demo of the Smarter Board Technology from IBM Research in Brazil…  The demo ran flawlessly thanks to Sergio and Mateus who were carefully monitoring it from Sao Paolo:

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The presentation is very well received…  Now it is up to Porto Alegre to accept the challenge and start its journey to become a Cognitive City… and we will support the city in any way we can.

Off to a Churrascaria, to enjoy a great lunch:

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I think I asked for the best desert (creme de Papaya with Creme de Cassis, strongly recommended!):


And back to the hotel for a debrief:



Obriagado Porto Alegre!!!





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Filed under Porto Alegre, Brazil

D-Day approaching… our final rehearsals

Today was spent in rehearsal and interviews.  Some of us took seriously the fact that only the top part needed to be formal…



After final touches, and translation into Portuguese, we were headed to Fundação Iberê Camargo, the venue of our final presentation tomorrow.  We were actually invited to a cocktail and a visit of this museum on our first weekend.  The museum is located by the river, with a gorgeous view (Lisa and Fernanda working relentlessly on the latest translation):



Down to the auditorium where the main event will happen tomorrow.  The good news: wi-fi works, sounds and image work, and the auditorium is really nice!

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The not so good news?  Cell-phone reception is not great.  Actually, out of the main Brazilian cell phone companies, only Claro seems to work.  This will affect our “surprise” for tomorrow, but nothing will break this strong team.  We are ready with our major messages: what will transform Porto Alegre into a Cognitive City!  Collaborative Decision Making, Engaged City and Improved Citizens Lives… all built on a solid foundation of Key Enablers.

As we exit the museum, we had a long wait for our taxis to arrive.  But we did enjoy a gorgeous view of the sunset on top of the river:

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Filed under Porto Alegre, Brazil

Challenging our colleagues in Date, Japan!

Open Letter to our IBM Colleagues in Date Japan: today the ESC-SCC team in Porto Alegre enjoyed a great dinner at the best Japanese restaurant in Porto Alegre, including a Brazilian version of Temaki California with…  Mango!  We challenge you to reciprocate with a dinner in a Brazilian restaurant in Japan!  🙂


Morango sakerinha!

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Filed under Date, Japan, Porto Alegre, Brazil

Community Transformation one Child at a Time… or How to Reverse Desertification by Planting Trees

As I mentioned in one of my earlier blogs, on Tuesday April 9, we had the privilege to join an extraordinary session with the counselors of the Participatory Budget.  Here is a picture from last week.


Among others was this energetic lady.  Her name is Maria Deloi Silveira Cardoso.  Here she appears in the middle of the picture (I zoomed in for your convenience):


Mrs. Deloi is Counselor of the Heath and Social Assistance “theme” in the Participatory Budget, and she immediately invited us to visit the Centro Social Marista where she volunteers.  She is 72-years old, but with the energy of a teenager.  And she cares about the center.  Some of us had the opportunity to visit the center this week (unfortunately, I was not among them), and they came back with amazing stories.  The center hosts over one thousand kids.  They spend time there either in the afternoon if they go to school in the morning, or in the morning if they attend regular school in the afternoon.  Since gambling was banned in Brazil, these kids have repurposed gambling machines and refurbished computers, and have been able to to build some amazing things.  Here you can see Julie with one of the kids, and a few of the “refurbished/repurposed” gambling machines in the background.


The kids here have won “Robotics” competitions, and developed some impressive projects.

And it is the likes of Mrs. Deloi that have helped make this change.  Whenever she needs something, she will physically “camp” outside the office of a Municipality Secretary until he/she agrees to see her.  Seventy two-years old, and still going, and going, and making a change, one kid at a time…  A few more pictures of the visit:


The team was interviewed at their center radion station by one of the students…  You can access the radio here.

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Filed under Porto Alegre, Brazil

Work continues

Monday work resumed at full steam…  We had the weekend to digest all the information we absorbed during the first week (although we all felt we had been here for at least a month).  We prepared for our first major checkpoint with Mr. Cesar Busatto, secretary of Governance, which happened on Tuesday.  Our meeting confirmed that our findings and understanding were in line with Mr. Busatto’s views.  However, it was also clear that Mr. Busatto expected us to get to the next level of detail…  Much work had been done, but much more remains ahead of us.

This week we have started splitting the work, with workstreams focused on Data, Participation/Communication, Finance, Governance and Cognitive City.  We also scheduled follow-up meetings with some of the stakeholders we had met last week (e.g., Procempa – the IT company, the Participatory Budgeting counselors, etc.) and a few new ones.

One of the most interesting meetings happened today, where we had the opportunity to get with the Porto Alegre CITE team – Comunidade + Inovação + Tecnologia + Empreendedorismo (Community, Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship), a technology/entrepreneurship greenhouse funded by local entrepreneurs such as José Cesar Martins who hosted us in his house upon our arrival.  We met in Nos Coworking,

Coworking is a different way of working, where you share the same work environment with other professionals, without losing your independence.

And the cool thing is that by sharing this space, you feel like you’re in a laboratory of ideas, where every day, every hour, new experiences happen. Projects and business can be worked collaboratively and while you expand your network and make new friends.

We met there Walker Massa, Director of Nos Coworking, Marcelo Bohrer a young entrepreneur that created his own Design Company , and others.  We heard about the passion (and frustration!) around Porto Alegre, the city, its government, etc.  No doubt that this teams can be the agents of change that the city is desperately looking for…  we will meet them again!IMG_20130417_193407[1] IMG_20130417_193418[1] IMG_20130417_193630[1] IMG_20130417_193700[1]  IMG_20130417_193814[1] IMG_20130417_194002[1] IMG_20130417_195842[1] IMG_20130417_210833[1] IMG_20130417_193358[1]

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Weekend Escape to Iguazu Falls

A picture is worth a thousand words…  Even though I was the only one in the team that had visited the falls before, it was still breathtaking….  Judge by yourselves:

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Three countries: Brazil on the right, Argentina on the left and Paraguay in the front:

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Our guide Ciro:

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About to get really wet:

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The magnificent rainbow:

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Some bold statements:

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Sunset on the triple border:


Helicopter flight:

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Birds park:

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Views from Brazilian side:

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