Tag Archives: #SCChallenge

Who is Limerick?

Limerick has Ireland’s fastest aging population.  By 2046, the population of the 65+ age group will grow by 263%.  This conjures up images of streets filled with walkers and wheel chairs, but that is most definitely not the case.  With 42% of the population under 30, there is the vibrancy evident within the city.  Limerick hosts 18,000 students as part of this demographic, flavoring the city the college town vibe found the world over.

Based on a week of meeting various agency and academic representatives, along with seniors actively advocating for their needs, we can state with confidence that the vibrancy we experience is a result of this community as well.  That does not diminish the needs of this population in any way.  Rather the way we have come to view the seniors we have met has perhaps shifted somewhat.  We see the seniors contributing to the life of the city in significant ways, it’s just that they collectively wish to have the opportunity to contribute to this vibrancy more.  From what we have witnessed, they most definitely can and will.  The barriers to achieving this share a common theme, which we will share once we meet with more of the stakeholders invested in transitioning Limerick into a premier “Age Friendly City”.

And now for the anecdote!  In one of our meetings with a member of the Older Persons Council, we met a gentleman who not only teaches dancing, but dances with a frequency that would be the envy of any active athlete!  Animated and full of stories to share, there are few who could keep up with him on our best days!  Evidence that the city vibe comes from the talents of all its residents.


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Art, food, and wildlife

We are already in our third week in Melbourne, and I think it is fair to say we have definitely used any time off we have had to explore the city. This is such a walkable city; our feet have taken us all over the CBD (Central Business District) to try new things and explore. I feel like I have been making personal connections with the city itself, reflected in three main areas that have made my short visit special: art, food, and wildlife.


Before I came, I didn’t quite understand what street art really meant. After seeing various parts of the city throughout our “walk-abouts”, I am beginning to get an inkling. The street art in Melbourne is not only for others to view; it also expresses the very core of the individual who has left it there. It is an ongoing story of the city and its residents, one which I have really grown to appreciate!


Art along South Bank


Images are everywhere!


Someone told us today that if we were to eat at one Melbourne restaurant each day, starting when we were very young, we still wouldn’t get through them all by the time we leave this planet – and I believe it! We are definitely spoilt for choice here, with cuisine available from any country. We can eat at a cute sidewalk table in one of Melbourne’s many lanes, at a nice restaurant, or on the go (“take-away”) – seemingly any time of day. This city seems even more vibrant than many other cities I have traveled to around the world. Foodies, you have to put Melbourne on your bucket list! I wonder how many more places I can get to in our last week here, between work and sleep?


Queen Victoria Market – a treasure trove!


Enjoying a gelato after a long day…










We had the pleasure of venturing outside the CBD and visiting beautiful Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary today! Among the wildlife we saw were wallabies, wombats, Tasmanian devils, emus, and koalas. Some of us had the privilege of feeding the kangaroos as well! I got to know Kiki the kangaroo; she greatly enjoyed the goodies I was given to feed her. A very memorable experience indeed. I am so grateful to be able to see such wonderful creatures in one spot; the Sanctuary is doing great work! Thank you!

Kangaroo feeding Melbourne

Feeding time at the Healesville Sanctuary

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Reflections on San Isidro

When traveling to a new place, you have all sorts of preconceived ideas – good or bad – about it.   For the six of us IBMers, coming to Peru was no different.  None of us had ever been here, and we did our fair share of research.  But there’s only so much you can find out from the pages of your web browser or Lonely Planet guide book.

We quickly began to learn about the area and our project through our many meetings with government officials, private companies, development banks, etc.  But we also interacted and engaged with many citizens in our daily travels and learned more about Peru and its people.

Our time went a little like this.  In week one, we conducted a series of interviews with the various stakeholders.  Week two, we finished up meetings and began to collect our findings and data.  Based on those, we brainstormed on recommendations.  Then, in week three, we developed our presentation and report.  We met regularly with the Mayor along the way to ensure we were on track for a successful final presentation.


The IBM team finalizing their work and enjoying some Inca Kola.

We concluded at a public event on Friday with media and city leaders; there was an interactive question and answer session that followed our presentation, and we believe it was well received by the public, the Mayor and his staff.

The three key messages were:

  1. Data as a platform.  A “data platform” is a building block of data sources that provides a current, reliable and secure source of information for decision makers and application developers to make better decisions and build relevant application solutions that support San Isidro’s priorities such as Sustainable Mobility.
  2. Interconnected, intermodal and integrated.  This crosses technology, infrastructure and modes of transport, as well as cross-organization interaction.
  3. Culture change. San Isidro must address culture change by building an awareness communications campaign that engages residents in the sustainable mobility movement.

Mayor Velarde along with Team IBM, including IBM Peru General Manager Alvaro Merino Reyna and our IBM Peru Host Sophie Perdriset.

While three weeks may seem like a long time, it really just allowed us to scratch the surface on understanding the challenges and opportunities facing our client.  We are hopeful that our recommendations provide San Isidro with validation of the progressive ideas they are promoting, while offering them new ideas that they can incorporate into their Sustainable Mobility strategy.

We learned a lot about  Lima and its challenges and opportunities, and we also sampled a few of its many treasures.  Here are a few highlights: Peruvian food is delicious and meals are to be enjoyed and used as time to build relationships – not rushed through; there is tremendous respect for Pachamama (Mother Earth); and finally, Peruvians are kind, helpful and appreciative. They boast an incredibly rich and diverse history.

We’ve all grown both personally and professionally through the experience, and made some lifelong friends along the way.   One team member summed it up well when he said, “In the first week, we were colleagues.  In the second week, we turned into friends.  In the third week, we became family.”  We accomplished great work like colleagues, we toured, dined and connected like friends, and we argued, made up and grew stronger like family.

From Australia, Canada, Germany, Ireland, and the United States,

Team San Isidro

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Our Last Week in San Isidro


Over the past week, we’ve been working hard to develop a plan that we hope will help the Muncipalidad de San Isidro with its sustainable mobility efforts.  We’ve also continued to experience the full range of local transportation modes.

There are a lot of factors we’ve considered as we finalized our set of recommendations – from the key findings that could impact execution to the time to value.  We’ll first share our work with the Mayor and his staff on Thursday, and then, on Friday (and likely after some tweaks), we have the opportunity to present our plan at a public meeting.
Being able to share the plan in a public way should prove to be especially rewarding to our team, as we built that plan based on the findings of our meetings with many stakeholders who will be in attendance.  


Last week, we also had the opportunity to meet with students and young professionals as part of a mentoring program that San Isidro runsWe shared our career stories and some personal lessons learned  and so did they  then, we had an engaged question and answer session.  It was an extremely rewarding experience for us to meet such an energetic group.


 Of course, in between all that hard work, we’ve been busy exploring Peruvian cuisine, culture and history.

Over the past weekend, we attended a cooking class at the Urban Kitchen, where we learned to make ceviche, causas, lomo saltado, aji de gallina, and, of course, the famous pisco sour.  Afterwards, we headed to the Inca Market to shop for our friends and loved ones who have supported our three-week journey away.

pachacamac-teamOn Sunday, we traveled about an hour out of town to the archaeological site Pachacamac, which was first occupied around 200 AD. There are a number huacas (or pyramids) on site, including the Temple of the Sun.  This Temple overlooks the Andes mountains from one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other; it’s dedicated to their sun god Inti.


Some of us also experienced the ‘Ciclovia,‘ which opens some of the main avenues in San Isidro and Miraflores for nonmotorized traffic only.

ciclodiaIt was a haven for cyclists, rollerbladers and walkers, with bicycles for hire and information booths related to activity and health.


To close out our final week, our days and nights will be filled with finalizing our presentation and report.  We will meet each day in our hotel conference room and review, discuss, update and refine – and on Friday, after we present to the public, we will celebrate our time and work together.


From Peru,

Team San Isidro


Filed under San Isidro - Peru

Greetings from Peru

On Sunday, our team of six IBMers from around the world gathered together in San Isidro, Lima, Peru, on a Smarter Cities Challenge focused on sustainable mobility. We hail from Australia, Canada, Germany, Ireland and the United States, and we boast a range of disciplines – from sales transformation to smarter cities to software engineering to legal to communications.

Urban transportation and the competition for space between people and vehicles is an issue across the world, and in San Isidro, the major financial district of Lima, it’s a growing concern.

San Isidro has an area of just over 11 km and to its west is bordered by the Pacific Ocean and the municipality of Magdalena. To the east, it connects with the municipality of San Borja, to the south Miraflores and Surquillo, to the north Lince, La Victoria and Jesus Maria.

San Isidro skyline

San Isidro boasts many gardens, parks and an exclusive residential area, according to Lima Easy. “Next to modern office blocks occupied by the main businesses and financial institutions, you find exclusive shops, excellent restaurants, inviting bars, cafes and of course many hotels. Nevertheless San Isidro managed to combine this modernity and progress with its cultural and traditional past.”

As a result, it’s estimated that nearly one million people flow through the district every day. The Smarter Cities Challenge statement continues on to explain that this creates traffic problems that include: traffic congestion, cars parked in restricted areas, reduction of public spaces due to parking. Consequently, all of these issues generate, as collateral, risks to public health and safety such as air and noise pollution, reducing the quality of life for the district population.

Mayor Manuel Velarde Dellepiane has asked IBM to design a sustainable mobility strategy that will leverage ongoing investments in public transport and green public spaces to promote changes in cultural behavior within the district, as well as across neighboring districts.

The team began its three-week journey in Peru with a kick-off Monday morning at the city’s cultural center located in the historic Olive Grove Park with Mayor Dellepiane, who spoke about his municipality and his hopes for the project. In attendance was an audience of approximately 30, including a number of city officials.

Team San Isidro

Over the first few days, we met separately with the Mayor and his senior advisors including Urban Planning, Security, Technology and Sustainability, as well as leaders of cycling groups, development banks, and the Lima transportation department (or, Protransporte). We are now beginning to understand the municipality’s mind set around the opportunities and challenges associated with the project. The challenges associated with developing common solutions that meet the needs of multiple stakeholder groups are becoming more apparent.

We are also experiencing first hand the various methods of transportation including walking, buses and taxis, and we are using bicycles to get to our office at the Municipality of San Isidro. We look forward to sharing more about our findings and how we’re progressing over the next three weeks.

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What’s next – staying smarter after the SCC challenge

It has been 3 months since my Indian adventure – new year, new goals and new questions – what am I going to do in 2016 to at least match 2015? Working in Allahabad was definitely once in a lifetime opportunity  – I honestly do not anticipate going back as it is not on the typical tourist or work path for IBMers or adventurous tourists. However, the experience has encouraged me to take the passion for #experteering a bit more seriously – and not as a random thing that happens even at the most supportive companies.

I tried to express this on my LinkedIn post a few weeks ago. The idea is that we can all lend our skills anywhere, anytime. Today’s Oxfam report on the huge inequality of wealth distribution really hit it home for me. There is not that much I can do to change that – but I can do something, I control something. So my resolution is to lend my skills every year – it may not be as exotic and well organized as a typical Smarter Cities challenge or a Corporate Services Corps engagement (pretty sure it won’t!). In fact, it may be more local or less corporate and consultative – but all I can hope for is that it will be rewarding and impactful. Have you browsed through the Catchafire or Moving Worlds websites? Some amazing things out there… just takes time and a bit of a risk – and off we go… who knows, maybe I will see you working in Congo on a coffee farm….probably not with Powerpoint – but see you somewhere! Get smarter and make smarter….keep me posted.

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Filed under Allahabad - India, Alumni reflections

Call it Vision 6/6 or Strategy 2020

Input – Six IBM experts who had never met before, working together for a cause in a country that is not a birthplace or place of work for any one of them.


Team SCC Athens

Output — A dozen recommendations along 6 major categories with nearly 30 potential projects to help Athens become a Smarter City. With the final presentation done and final report ready to be submitted, we are all on our way back home after 22 days of immersion in a foreign land that we had never visited before.

Whether it was the 100+ individual stakeholders we met and interacted with or the documents and demos we reviewed or the workshops we conducted. Or the countless hours of debate we had amongst the team on the traffic, parking and transportation related issues of the city and corresponding potential process, policy, engagement, information technology & analytic solutions. How these 3 weeks went by is quite a story in itself, but the impact this piece of work will have on the outcome for the City of Athens and its citizens is what will matter most.


Unparalleled and memorable experience is all I would say it was for all of us. Thank you Mayor Kaminis, Dy Mayor Kafetzoppulous @Cityof Athens and  @ibm #Smarter @citieschallenge @IBMHellas for the opportunity and thanks again IBM Greece for hosting us.

I, for one, am glad to have been part of this unforgettable odyssey.

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