Tag Archives: Smarter Cities Challenge

Efharisto and Antio Thessaloniki!

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During our short three weeks the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge team met with more than 40 organizations and 70 individuals spanning government, business, and academia. The generosity of knowledge sharing gave us a diverse introduction to the city. We walk away from the project sad to leave such a wonderful city! But also with a view that Thessaloniki, and Greece broadly, is a place of rich heritage, vast beauty and incredible potential.

Amidst dramatic challenges both economic and social, Thessaloniki has shown itself to be a city of immense resilience. This was one of the factors that played into the city receiving the competitive IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grant ahead of more than 100 other applicants.

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IBM’s Rahul Chenny, Xenia Zoppas, and Lia Davis during stakeholder meetings at Thessaloniki’s City Hall.

Under the leadership of Mayor Boutaris, we saw noteworthy progress toward modernization and openness that has improved the city for citizens and businesses. His administration has elevated the culture of the city, and it has become a model for other municipalities seeking best practices to address economic challenges by facilitating trade and harnessing tourism and culture.

One of the most promising observations was the deep wealth of human capital including entrepreneurs, students, NGOs, tech developers, and creatives. This collective means the city has a high concentration of data producers and potential users.

We believe that Thessaloniki’s move toward an Open Data approach is quite achievable, with a solid beginning underway. With the right level of commitment, open data could fuel local innovation, enhance city insights, decision-making and transparency, and improve services for residents and visitors.

Our key findings based on stakeholder sessions will not be surprising as there was a consistent echo across all communities on the barriers to openness and data sharing. Five areas came into focus: policies, varied views on open data, organizational silos and cultural practices, technical governance, and resources.

As we looked across these issues our belief is that they can be resolved with the right level of public and private sector commitment. An Open Data dashboard that benefits all stakeholders would be one important outcome, but there will be many other city, citizen and private sector benefits as well.

We’ve outlined our top-level recommendations to Mayor Boutaris, Lina Liakou, Deputy Mayor and Chief Resilience Officer, and other city leaders. We focused on these five key areas: public policies that require data sharing, clarity of mission for greater unity across stakeholders, steps to strengthen and further collaboration, technical governance to promote trust, and creative ways to address budgetary and resource constraints.

The favorable response means we are well on our way to assembling the detailed report that will be shared early next year.

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The IBM Smarter Cities Challenge Team with Thessaloniki’s Mayor Yiannis Boutaris, Deputy Mayor & Chief Resilience Officer, Lina Liakou and other city leaders.

Again, our sincere thanks to all who met with our team. A resounding take away was the sense that Thessaloniki is teaming with professionals, public servants, entrepreneurs, and academics who are making a positive impact on the city.

It was an honor to serve Mayor Boutaris and Deputy Mayor Liakou on this important project. We would also like to thank the leadership of Aristotle University for inviting our team to speak with students. As well as the Deputy Mayor for Tourism & International Relations Spiros Pengas and the more than 40 attendees who participated in the Open Data Design Thinking workshop which we hope will serve as a model for other organizations as the city’s open data efforts progress.

We look forward to sharing our findings and continuing the dialogues in the months and years ahead as the city advances its Open Data initiative.

More on IBM’s Smarter Cities Team Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki Smarter Cities Team // Week One

The Universal Language of Post-it Notes
Team Salonika Heads Back to School
Thessaloniki: Many Stories, One Heart

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Thessaloniki Smarter Cities Team // Week One

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Our philanthropic assignment to spread the gospel of ‘open data’ has officially begun with the Smarter Cities Challenge team arriving in Thessaloniki, Greece. The city, the second largest in the country, features more than a million citizens, an exceptional university community with more than 100,000 students, a rich history with multi cultural experiences attracting local and international tourism, and a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem.

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Thessaloniki was selected from more than 100 cities with a grant of service from IBM’s Corporate Citizenship. City leaders want to foster a broad environment for data sharing in order to improve the city and increase economic competitiveness. Over the next three weeks we’ll establish a well defined road map that can be used by the city to implement an open data platform designed to fuel local innovation, enhance city insights, decision making, and transparency, and improve services for residents and visitors.

As we’re working from the country where the Olympics were born, we learned quickly that our project will be a record-breaking three week sprint, including a few hurdles. While the city has a wealth of intellectual talent and a progressive outlook towards data and technology, the community has faced intense pressures. A massive recession is underway throughout Greece, there is an ongoing issue with brain drain as young professionals seek opportunities in other markets, and the region is managing a significant refuge crisis. As a result, the city is dealing with budget and resourcing limitations as they work to modernize.

The first three days have been dedicated to meeting with Mayor Yiannis Boutaris, his leadership team including Lina Liakou and Babis Tsitlakidis, and third party stakeholders — more than a dozen fact finding sessions have occurred thus far — to align with the goals of the municipality. Our team was asked to present to the Mayor and key constituents to detail our approach and now we’re working quickly to ensure there is a consistent and unified view of what ‘open data’ is and an understanding of where the domains of data reside.

These meetings have been inspiring. While facing many challenges, the people of the city are eternally optimistic and creative in finding solutions to ensure they’re providing quality services to their citizens and those new to the community.

As we dive in, we’re guided by a highly engaged IBM General Manager, Spyros Poulidas. A respected European business leader, Mr. Poulidas has provided a great deal of insight on the micro and macro economic environment our team must be sensitive to as we collaborate with local officials. Xenia Zoppas, who leads Marketing, Communications and Citizenship for IBM Greece, has also helped us with her strong client and influencer relationships to quickly immerse ourselves in the local ecosystem.

It will be an exciting and intense three weeks and our IBM team is fortunate to include individuals with very diverse skills. An executive architect and member of the IBM Academy of Technology from Bangalore, a Bluemix developer specializing in Watson from São Paulo, a communications and marketing professional from Washington with a background in public sector and cognitive computing, from New York a finance and planning expert and a serial entrepreneur experienced with start-up cultures, and a government and public sector industry advisor from Germany who is fluent in Greek!

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The IBM Smarter Cities team (L to R) including Xenia Zoppas, Rahul Chenny, Priscilla Parodi, Anil Arora, IBM Greece General Manager Spyros Poulidas and Deputy Mayor of Thessaloniki Lina Liakou, Lia Davis, Georgios Pakos and Tim Coates.

Demonstrating our commitment to agile, the team has already overcome missed flights, lost luggage, and little sleep, to hit the ground running. And we’ve embraced the culture, relying on strong espresso and a little Mastica to keep the ideas flowing.

More on our efforts to come … μέχρι την επόμενη φορά (till the next time)!

More on IBM’s Smarter Cities Team Thessaloniki
The Universal Language of Post-it Notes
Team Salonika Heads Back to School
Thessaloniki: Many Stories, One Heart

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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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First Impressions – Limerick

With our first two days on the ground and in the field in Limerick, first impressions have been very powerful and humbling.  We have been greeted by city leadership and organizations who serve the aging population of Limerick with warmth and clear commitment to the vitality of Limerick.  The clear successes of the vision to revitalize Limerick are evident throughout this historic city, and the drive to ensure the aging population is part of that revitalization is why we are here as partners to all those who share in that vision.

Limerick leadership is clear in their goal to get out ahead of the rapidly growing population of their aging citizens, not because they see this as a problem, rather an opportunity to engage this population as equal partners to ensure an outcome that elevates the overall quality of life in the greater metro Limerick area.  What we have seen and heard in just two days leaves no doubt this will be achieved.

All that said, no initial blog entry is complete with anecdotes….. On arrival in Limerick, one of our team members opened her suit case only to discover that the powdered health drink mix had exploded during the flight to Ireland.  What does one do when their clothes are covered in powder?  Well one vacuums them of course!

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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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Surat, the Silk City

Our Smarter Cities Challenge: Travel to the city of Surat, India with a small team of other IBMers, work with city leaders, and in just three weeks, develop a plan to help make the city “smarter.”

Surat (pronounced, “SUE-raht”) has mills that produce vast quantities of silk, cotton and manmade fibers. It is known as the Silk City.  It is also a huge hub for the diamond market: 90% of the world’s diamonds are cut and polished here. These industries provide so many job opportunities that people have been migrating to Surat from across the country, and the city’s population has been growing exponentially.  Surat is the world’s fourth fastest growing city.

January 26 is Republic Day in India, which observes the adoption of the Indian Constitution in 1950.  Our team celebrated the holiday by driving out of town to a salt marshy area called Dandi, by the Arabian Sea.  There, in 1930, Mahatma Gandhi staged an act of civil disobedience, to protest British rule in India.  He and an ever-increasing crowd of followers marched to Dandi to challenge a British-imposed tax on salt.  A huge statue of Gandhi holding a handful of salt stands outside, near a plaque that reads: “Here on April 6, 1930 A.D. Gandhiji broke the Salt Law, picked salt and challenged the rule of the mighty British which ultimately won for our motherland freedom on August 15, 1947.”

Gandhi statue at Dandi - Surat SCC - GHZ

 

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by | January 27, 2016 · 1:20 pm

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.

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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.

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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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