Yesterday team San Isidro kicked off their project with Dr. Gustavo Posse, Mayor of San Isidro and his team from the office of Modernization led by Eduardo Garcia Beaumont. The team met many of the stakeholders they will interview over the coming weeks.
As we ended the official kick off presentation, I presented the Mayor with a Smarter Cities Challenge cap, telling him he is now part of our team.
After the kick off we began our interviews and ended the day with a tour of the Central Hospital. Our focus at the hospital was to look at their cooling systems and determine where we can monitor the health of the units. Team member Nancy Greco will share more about these IoT devices in her blog later today.
Our team is made up of a diverse group of leaders in IBM. Each bringing expertise to the problem we will help solve.
From left to right :
Rajesh Phillips is a Program Director in Software Product Development in the Analytics space and resides in India.
Kim Reheiser is a Program Director working on Business Development for the Watson Customer Engagement group and resides in the United States.
Marcos Melis is the Government & Regulatory Affairs Lead for IBM Argentina.
Dr. Gustavo Posse is the Mayor of San Isidro
Nancy Greco is an IBM Distinguished Engineer and Director, Research IoT at IBM’s T.J. Watson Research Lab and resides in the United States.
Carolyn Marsh is an IBM U.S. Federal Client Manager and resides in the United States
Paul Sidhu leads the IBM Blockchain Practice in Australia and New Zealand for consulting and technical delivery and resides in Australia.
This will be the first in a number of posts about my experience with the Smarter Cities Challenge project in San Isidro, Argentina. I will be with the SCC team throughout the project and look forward to sharing my personal experiences of my time with the team and with the beautiful city of San Isidro.
I arrived yesterday just ahead of the team, who will start arriving this evening and through tomorrow. For all of us, this will be our first time in Argentina. Two things we all knew when we gathered for our first call as a team a few weeks ago… Argentina is known for their beef and their wine. What I have learned in just a day is that the people of Argentina are very welcoming and friendly. From the cab drivers to the checkout clerk at the grocery store, everyone has had a warm smile and welcoming attitude. I think our team will be very happy here for the duration of the project.
Before I tell you about the issue we will work on, I want to tell you about my partner here is Argentina who has been helping me prepare the team for their assignment. Raquel Godoy is the citizenship manager for IBM Argentina and has been working closely with the city to get ready for the team’s arrival. I thank you so much Raquel for all you have done to help prepare for our arrival and work with the city of San Isidro. This project would not be possible without you!
Now to tell you about the work we will do – As part of the modernization plan for San Isidro, the city seeks to focus on renewable energy in public buildings and social housing, which will allow the city to create savings, contributing to the care of the environment to improve the quality of life of the citizens. IBM will work with San Isidro to become a more sustainable city and educate its citizens to become more energy efficient and proactive in the care of the environment.
While this is a big task for our team, they are up for the challenge (no pun intended). My next post I will introduce you to the team. Tomorrow once everyone arrives we will go and meet Mayor Posse. He is being very generous with his time by meeting us on Saturday, even before the official project begins on Monday. He is extremely committed to the issue and I can’t wait to meet him tomorrow.
In a few hours I will board a plane and join my awesome team in San Isidro to take on a city’s challenge around energy- how best to produce it, use it and conserve it. I have never been this far south, and I am so excited and a bit nervous about the adventure ahead . So I am packed, finally, but surely have forgotten something. And just tickled to enter and submerge into a culture as electric as Argentina. I’m picturing the tango !! I have done my preparation- armed with my cultural profile and helpful hints about the local life, culture and ways of working. I ‘m looking forward to getting to know even more about this country, this city — and the problems we can hopefully help them to resolve. Hey team —- see you soon !
And so crunch week is upon us. Time to focus our energies on refining our recommendations. We were lucky enough to have a last minute visit from the Mayor to our hotel team office, so we were able to validate some of our ideas with him. He’s a man of many wise words and sayings, and a man who very much believes in the possibility of change; he wholeheartedly refutes the Italian saying ‘He who is born round cannot die square’!
The team and the mayor and Mr Mattina
Sharing his wisdom
Sharing our thoughts
Lisa in full flow
A lot of discussion and prep was required ….
Trying out the Mayor’s chair for size
Lisa getting us sorted
Helene sharing her thoughts
Night time presentation prep
This is what we’re aiming for! Hey Mike?
And finally Friday arrived. Our Powerpoint skills had been tested, as had our patience and creativity, but finally we had an overview of recommendations that we were happy with and which we presented to the mayor and many of the people we’d met and interviewed during the previous 3 weeks. The last minute livestream on Facebook was a bit of a surprise but by that point it was too late to worry.
The Mayor opening the presentation
The mayor seemed happy with our presentation and it seemed to resonate with his thoughts and plans. He commented that they already have the infrastructure in place but they need to put it in service of the ‘client’ and that while they have both a communication and digital infrastructure, that these need to be combined, so create a system of participation and involvement. I particularly loved his comments about how they currently manage by heroes but how they need to get back their souls to build a network of souls. He’s quite a poet!
The 3 presenters… happy with the result
And so a final team lunch was held as we said our goodbyes….but the hard work isn’t over. The report awaits!
Weekend number 2 started with football….. while we were waiting for Italy to be beaten by Sweden (sorry Andrea!) the news flashed up on the screen. Coastguards in Libya in a ‘dispute’ with a German NGO over who was responsible for the death of some migrants during a rescue mission. Our eyes, ears and minds are now tuned in to this kind of news.
After a bit of shopping and a couple of hours of work, we all went off the international dinner with our new friends at La Noce. A fabulous evening of international food that everyone had made, chatting, dancing ensued, along with a table football tournament where the women were victorious! (We wanted to do something for the ‘unaccompanied minors’, the young lads we had met the last time we visited and Andrea had the great idea of a table football).
The victorious female team
Can they win?
Ooh the concentration
My overriding memory of the evening is of young African men and young African mothers dancing with Italian and German volunteers, dancing with Syrian and Tunisian men, women and their kids and also dancing with the IBM SCC team. It was such a fantastic picture of unity, happiness and hope. A REALLY amazing evening. Thank you La Noce, you’ll always have a place in my heart.
Bad selfie … 🙂
Helene’s fallen in love
All ages, all nationalities dancing together
Dance lesson #1
‘Follow your dreams’ is an apt message
Dance lesson #2
Happy IBMers Lisa and Kate
Dance lesson #3
I hope you’re hungry
And there’s more….
Sunday was largely filled with work again – we need to produce the best recommendations possible for all of the great people we have met. But Lisa, Helene and I did escape to the Massimo Teatro for a couple of hours to hear the beautiful voices of the children’s choir and orchestra rehearse. A bit of calm before the final week storm…
Teatro Massimo children’s choir in rehearsal
It’s funny how 3 weeks away from your day job seems like such an eternity to manage but 3 weeks on a project seems like a really short period of time! So week 2 arrived and it was time to divide and conquer.
We still had many meetings to do but we also needed to organise our thoughts and get some structure in place. Design thinking principles, SWOT analyses, workflows, a stack of post-it notes enabled us to synthesize the data we had and come up with a structure to move us forward.
The order of the day
Andrea’s rescue ship
The consultant’s essential tool – a plate
Andrea’s plea to the team
We met three amazing women from the International Organisation for Migrants, part of the UN. The stories about sex trafficking were truly harrowing. At the opposite end of the spectrum we also met a fabulous Italian entrepreneur who has her own fashion business based in Palermo.
I was also privileged to be able to visit Teatro Massimo on Thursday. It’s the 3rd biggest opera house in Europe and has a stage over 50 metres deep. But more impressive to me was the work they do in social inclusion. The superintendent told us about their ‘opera truck’ that they use to take opera around the city, to the masses – and how they took it one day to a tough neighbourhood called Zen. Initially they were performing to no one, but slowly the kids started to appear and then the mothers with their babies…. and finally the men. And how for those few hours of performance the police reported back that criminality stopped. Amongst other things, they have a Rainbow Choir made up from kids from all walks of life and do concerts for pregnant women to introduce their babies to music.
Kate & Lisa on top of the Teatro Massiomo
Backstage at the Teatro
3rd largest opera house in Europe
Gelato and speed walks completed week 2 of being in the ‘City with a soul’.
The team took a brief respite this weekend, with a fun trip to San Francisco and also a hike along on the Mine Hill Trail. The rest was needed after a full week of Design Thinking workshops, a community volunteer project, further stakeholder interviews and deliverable work. Below are some pictures from last weekend (quiz: see if you can find something strange and out of place in one of the San Francisco picture).
As the team enters our final week, everyone is in full-gear to complete our deliverable assignments and look at the insights together to refine our overall recommendations to the City of San Jose. The overall story and flow of the city recommendation is starting to take shape, and we are seeing connections across all of our research and data reviews. Much work remains to pull off the final presentation and report, but we do believe the City of San Jose will be “Wow’d” with the output.