Tag Archives: Smarter Cities Challenge

IBM Smarter Cities Challenge Allahabad Team Effort Underway

2015 Smarter Cities Challenge 059

When asked why I chose to participate on the IBM Team addressing the challenges Allahabad faces as it embarks on a journey to evolve into a Smarter City, I expressed the honor I felt in being able to contribute to the city that my grandfather and father called home. I, too had spent 3 years of my childhood in Allahabad and felt a strong bond with the city. I wanted Allahabad to become smarter, yet retain its unique cultural heritage and identity as a place of pilgrimage for Hindus around the globe. These sentiments immediately resonated with the City’s Mayor who responded saying “Exactly! We want Allahabad to evolve its infrastructure and become a pleasant and inviting town with revitalized industrial growth but not lose its cultural identity as a home to the “Kumbh Mela.” Allahabad should remain as Allahabad, but just get smarter!”

City Authorities stressed the importance of solid waste management as a foundational issue in Allahabad’s Smarter City Planning Process and thanked IBM for investing in an overall assessment of the city’s challenges in this area.

Following the official kickoff, the team visited the banks of the Yamuna and Ganga rivers that are home for people coming to Allahabad during the annual Magh Mela and the famous Kumbh Mela (held every 12 years).

The IBM SCC team for Allahabad on the banks of the river Yamuna.

The IBM SCC team for Allahabad on the banks of the river Yamuna.

On Day 2, the team visited Sewage Treatment plants and learned about the current and planned initiative addressing waste water treatment.

The Sewage Treatment Plant at Naini

The Sewage Treatment Plant at Naini

IBM's Smarter City team at the Naini Sewage Treatment Plant

IBM’s Smarter City team at the Naini Sewage Treatment Plant


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No Sleep Til….


Saturday night and all day Sunday led to not much rest. I think I got about 5 hours of sleep Saturday night and only 2 hours of sleep Sunday night. This is what the Phoenix Park ski hills looked like at 5 AM Monday morning. It really was quite lovely.


I ended up taking ownership of the charts and worked diligently to pull everything together with the same look and feel in preparation for our dress rehearsal on Monday. Shew! Was it exhausting!

Don’t get me wrong…I was happy to do it! I thrive on this kind of thing…“perfection.” Anyone who knows me well…or even partially…knows I’m a bit anal. Especially when it comes to deliverables…and especially when it comes to the customer.

Sunny translated to Korean and the presentation looked amazing! It was truly a team effort. Everyone brings a unique experience and special touch to their part of the content and it shows through.


The presentation Monday went really well. The County was very pleased with our recommendations and stated we are on track. All is well! This time Souvik gained his nickname as “The Dictator”.  He looked so well presented. 🙂


After our practice run we had dinner with our new friends Mr. Lee and Mr. Jeon. We are becoming fast friends. They have shown us so much hospitality, respect and appreciation. We are truly grateful for everything they have done and are happy to call them friends.

We all dined together at a local (and I mean WAY off the beaten path) Korean BBQ duck farm.


In fact it was the “Ducky Duck Farm.” And was the duck yummy!


I know I keep saying this after most meals, but I have another new favorite food. This time it’s Korean BBQ with duck. OMG!! SO GOOD! We had several plates and we couldn’t get enough.



You eat it with all sorts of fixin’s…from soy sauce with ginger, to a touch of sea salt, to plain with baby leeks and onions. All of them were amazing and I couldn’t get enough!  I even had the best kimchi I have had yet. Mmm, mmm, good!


A couple of boilermakers and LOTS of duck later we departed for our hotel. We joked about hitting the karaoke bar but we were all exhausted. Mr. Jeon did take a quick spin on the mini trampoline.


And Stephanie made a friend.


And with my 7 hours of sleep in two nights it was time for bed…I passed out around 10:15 PM Monday and got up around 8:30 AM Tuesday morning. What a difference a day makes…er rather a good night of sleep.

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Filed under Pyeongchang County - Korea

A Coastal Adventure!

It’s the weekend!!! I can’t tell you how excited I am that it’s Saturday. We all decided to play hooky today and get a much needed break from work and have a little fun. And boy did we have fun!!!

As Sunny’s birthday was Thursday, and we were so swamped with work, we didn’t get to celebrate much so we celebrated again today. We hit some of Sunny’s favorite spots and it was just fine by me.

We started the day bright and early with an 8 AM departure from Phoenix Park. We began our journey towards the east with the ultimate destination being Gangneung (the eastern coast of Korea).

We stopped for an amazing Korean brunch along the way. Fish…kimchi…the traditional fixin’s and “hangover soup.” No hangover to cure but it was still yummy!





The rare collection of random fermenting alcohol greeted us on our way out. I’m not really sure if you drink it…and I wasn’t quite up for finding out.


The restaurant was located on a quaint little street corner across from one of the many beautiful rivers that flow through Pyeongchang. It truly amazes me how much water and how many mountains there are here. You really do feel like you’re in a fairy land.

The bridges are also spectacular. Everywhere you look there’s one…hovering over a meandering stream. It’s majestic!


And there’s always the local store selling some sort of dried fish. We actually had this in the “hangover soup.” It was quite good.


Our next stop took us to the Daegwallyeong Samyang Ranch. Located on the hills of Daegwallyeong 850 to 1,470 meters above sea level, Samyang Ranch is the largest highlands farm in Asia.



There are so many attractions at this place, it was hard to keep track. Such an amazing experience as there was something new to enjoy every time you turned around.




We got to get up close and personal with some very LARGE windmills. And boy were they spectacular. I’ve only ever seen them from far away and to be up close to them made me feel so small.





The sound as the wind “whooshes” by you as the huge blades pushes through the air was amazing! I really can’t describe the sound or how it felt to be near them.



Cotswold was actually a little scared but braved the “blow you over” breeze and the “bitter” cold for a quick photo shoot. I totally get why these things are located on the top of tall mountains!!


There are lots of different animals at the Ranch, including a special area for the sheep, known as the Daegwallyeong Sheep Farm. This is the only sheep farm in Korea, so we were pretty lucky to have visited.

Apparently 200 sheep graze leisurely on vibrant green pastures spanning over 204,960 square meters…but they weren’t out today. Just the little buggers who greeted us with warm “bleets” and a smile.


We also ran into some ostriches who greeted us in anticipation of being fed. Alas, we had nothing so they lost interest pretty quickly.



I have to say, the cow was the biggest hit of them all! Ji-Hyun was lucky enough to ride shotgun. Now two members of our team have ridden cows during our journey.


Throughout our visit to the farm we strolled the trails enjoying the scenery and each other’s company. We’re all really starting to get close…it still amazes me how close we’ve become in just 2 short weeks.



We ended our glorious adventure at the Ranch with one last photo. Moo!


Our next stop took us to all the way east to Gangneung. This is the site of the Coastal Cluster for the 2018 Winter Olympics. You can certainly tell the Olympics are coming! There are signs and Olympic rings everywhere.



Oh and there are cherry blossoms too!!! YIPPEE!! We were so excited! The past few days we’ve seen several blossoms starting to come out but we hadn’t seen any this full yet. And this was pushing the end of the blooming season.





It was truly beautiful!



Our visit to Gangneung also provided a visit to the beach. I honestly have never thought about a beach in Korea, but considering a darn good amount of the country is surrounded by water it makes sense. I’m hardly good at geography in my own country let alone 7,000 miles away. 🙂







The beach was stunning! I see why people come here in the summertime. The sand is pristine and the beaches are surrounded by the most beautiful evergreen trees. No palm trees here.


Of course there are evergreen trees, and then the random “large metal tree” of the steel variety.


The group took a group shot to prove we were there. Notice Justin is missing. He decided to abandon us for his bike ride and a trip around Pyeongchang town. We did send him on his way with his letter in tow. Fortunately he had no issues and joined us back at the hotel later in the afternoon.



We stopped for lunch at a local restaurant. Again, the food was fantastic! There’s just so much to try…I don’t think I’ll ever get to experience it all.




Buckwheat noodles in a kimchi broth. Yummy! Honestly I have never been a big fan of kimchi, but I’ve never had kimchi like I have had in Korea. I think I’m hooked. I’m just not quite sure I’ll be able to get anything like it at home.


Following lunch we made our last stop of the day. Sunny’s favorite…Terarosa Coffee.



This place was spectacular! The building itself was nestled in the woods…right across the road from the beach. It was made up of mostly windows so everywhere you looked you could see nature outside.



Besides the view the coffee and snacks were great! Pain au chocolat and a cappuccino. Yummy!




Oh and a little coffee purchase as well. Rookie mistake on my part. Each bag (which was less than a pound of beans) was KRW 22,000. OYE!! That’s about $22 per bag. Alas. I’m going to enjoy it when I get home. Vince – get ready for some yummy coffee!


We sat on the 2nd floor balcony and enjoyed our coffee, snacks and good conversation. The laughter was in abundance…as it seems to be much of the time these days.


We all really do get on very well and I swear I’ve laughed more these past 2 weeks than I have in a long time. Don’t get me wrong…I laugh a lot in my regular life, but we’ve laughed A LOT!!! Antonio enjoyed a little smell of the purchased roast.


Alas, after our coffee we headed back to our hotel. Time to get to work and get ready for our dress rehearsal with the County. We need to prepare our final presentation for review with them on Monday with our final presentation on Thursday. We also have to write our findings and recommendation report all by Wednesday evening. No pressure! Ha! It was definitely worth it to get out a bit today as we have a ton of work to do. But we all needed the break! And it was well worth it.

Time to sign off for now…lots of work to do before the week starts. Goodnight!

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Filed under Pyeongchang County - Korea

Let the Adventure Begin….

It’s official….I’m on my way to Pyeongchang, South Korea!!!

As many of you may know, I have been hand selected to participate in the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge. The Smarter Cities Challenge contributes the skills and expertise of IBM’s top talent to address critical challenges facing cities around the world. We do this by putting teams on the ground for three weeks to work closely with city leaders and deliver recommendations on how to make the city smarter and more effective. Over the past 4 years, 116 cities have been selected to receive grants. The Smarter Cities Challenge is IBM’s largest philanthropic initiative, with contributions valued at over $50 million to date.

Pyeongchang is the site of the 2018 Winter Olympics. Pyeongchang wants to ensure that the investments made for the Olympics can be sustained to drive their economy after the Olympic games are over by attracting a global market of tourists to the region. Mayor JaeKook Sim has asked IBM to help the city by developing a tourism strategy for realizing their vision of becoming the “City for Relaxation, Tourism, Leisure, and Sports”.

Today is the day I knew was coming when I got the call on March 4. Getting to this point has been a whirlwind. From making the decision within 5 hours on whether or not I could take 3 weeks away from my job and my family, to spending the last 3 weeks on the road (Vancouver, Costa Mesa, San Antonio, Toronto and Chicago), to only having 30 hours home in between trips to pack and get ready to leave the country for 3+ weeks….I’m finally on my way!! And I’m beat already!!

But after all of the craziness of the past month, I’m SO excited to finally be sitting in the Detroit airport for 4+ hours awaiting my flight to Seoul. 🙂 Seriously though, this is an opportunity of a lifetime and I’m so lucky that IBM has given me and the rest of my fellow IBMers this chance. We’re going to make a real difference!! We’re going to be doing it because we want to, because we have the opportunity to make an impact and because we’re passionate about doing something greater than the day-to-day. I can’t wait to begin this journey with my IBM partners for the next 3+ weeks, Antonio Galbe Bartolome (Madrid, Spain), Stephanie Carmel (NJ, USA), Sunny Chung (Seoul, South Korea), Souvik Das (Kolkata, India) and Justin Webb (Burnaby, Canada). I’m sure we will learn together, cry together, laugh together, play together, drink together, jump out of our comfort zones together and work VERY hard together, but we will have a lot of fun and we will make a lifetime of memories.

I have to admit, I was incredibly apprehensive the past few days. When I was sitting in the airport in Chicago Wednesday night, and my flight was delayed with the potential to miss my connection on the last flight back to Denver, I started to freak out a bit. I hadn’t packed a thing. I had to pick up my dry cleaning. I wanted to spend time with my husband and my kids and it all had the potential to come crashing down. But I got home late Wednesday night and I got it all done. I only got 2 hours of sleep last night but I made it. I packed too much, I slept too little, but the apprehension is gone and now I’m just downright ecstatic to be on this adventure!!

The kids and Vince will be a little worse for the wear, but they’ve got a fun-filled 3 weeks ahead of them. Livy is heading to Wyoming for a sleepover, Alex is going skiing, they’ve got birthday parties to attend, family to spend time with, snow to play in (yes it snowed 3” last night), Daddy to torment and more. I may never be allowed to leave the house again (if Vince has his way) but the support is there nonetheless. Thanks babe!!


I’ve commandeered Cotswold (Alex’s stuffed monkey we bought in Cotswold, England when Alex was but a wee chap). Cotswold has seen the world with us as a family (England, Curacao, New York City, and many other US destinations), with Daddy (South Africa, Germany and the UK) and now with Mommy (South Korea).   Alex loves following Cotswold’s adventures and it was the best I could do to keep him from wanting to pack himself in my bags and come with me. So far Cotswold has enjoyed his trip from Denver to Detroit. Keep an eye on the blog and follow his adventures.


Cotswold has been keeping me company in the lounge. My flight to Seoul boards in a little under 2 hours and I’m ready to get it over with. 13.5 hours in a metal tube in the sky is not my idea of fun, but I’m hoping to catch up on my sleep (remember the 2 hours I got last night?), a few movies and some relaxation. I’m actually one of the fortunate ones who can sleep on an airplane. Wish me luck! I’m also fighting a head cold so here’s hoping the Tylenol PM will do the trick. 🙂

I will do my very best over the next 3 weeks to keep blogging. I’ve never been one for this sort of thing, but knowing I’ve got a fan base out there should keep me going. 🙂 I can’t promise I’ll post something every day, nor that my posts will be as lengthy as this one, but I will push through.

Check in on me from time to time. I look forward to sharing this amazing experience with all of you.

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Filed under Pyeongchang County - Korea

SCC Team Perth is Off on Our Australian Adventure

Smarter Cities Perth

Five traveler’s from around the world have settled in and successfully completed our first week in Perth on our Smarter Cities Challenge assignment. We met with the Lord Mayor, Lisa Scaffidi, on Day 1 and it has been a whirlwind of activity ever since. I (Deb Bolk) arrived from Colorado USA on Saturday and my teammates, Li Jun Sun from Beijing China, Ian Watson-Jones from San Francisco, USA, Luciano Dallolio from Sao Paulo Brazil, and Jeff Wells from Melbourne, Australia followed close behind on Sunday.



Our IBM in country host, Liz Hampton from New Zealand was here to meet us with open arms and she and Camile Smetana have looked after our every need to help get us settled in and started on our work. The team at the City of Perth headed by Martin Mileham and Liz Handley have been outstanding and so helpful. They even brought in a new espresso coffee machine for us and Dillon has taken care of every detail to provide us with our every want and desire when it comes to lunches and snacks. We are being thoroughly spoiled!

We attended a lovely Kickoff Reception and tea hosted by the Lord Mayor on Tuesday and were introduced to the stakeholders and the press.

Launch Photo with Lord Mayor - Perth SCC

The team has been heads-down in interviews at The City of Perth’s Council House since then and has already gathered some great information on the city and some of the issues we need to address in our recommendations. We also took a tour of some major development sites at Elizabeth Quay, Riverside, and the Perth Link. In the evenings, we have experienced some really excellent restaurants. Jeff has taken us on the “scenic route” several times so we’ve gotten a few great mini-tours of the city. Several of us have made the climb up Jacob’s Ladder, which is right behind our apartments. The 242 steps take you up to Kings Park which is just beautiful and the sunrise over the City of Perth is just breathtaking.

Sunrise Perth Australia


To celebrate our first successful week, we loaded up in our big white van, which we have affectionately named the Waga Waga Wagon, and headed out for the train station right after work. We attended an Australian League Football (AFL) game and although we all got completely drenched through by a huge winter rainstorm, we still had a fantastic time. It was the first AFL game for many of us, so we kept Jeff very busy explaining all the rules when he wasn’t searching for rain ponchos for all of us. The Aussie’s are very serious about their football and it was fascinating to experience the fast-paced game, even if the home town West Coast Eagles were soundly defeated by their rivals the Richmond Tigers from Melbourne. It was a blast!

At the AFL Game

Tomorrow holds a chance for us to do some more exploring! It will be great to take a short break from the interviews and see some of the sights around the area! The Lord Mayor promised me at the receptions that I would get to see a kangaroo during my visit, so I’m really counting on getting a chance to pet one and maybe cuddle a koala!!


Filed under Perth, Australia

Last evening in Tainan

Its our last evening in Tainan and I have mixed feelings as we all pack-up for traveling out tomorrow afternoon. My suitcase is full of gifts and souvenirs our team received from the City of Tainan. I had never imagined about such a warm welcome and hospitality during these three weeks.

The entire stay was  full of exciting events and activities. So many meetings and discussions, trips around the city, lunches and dinners at restaurants, biking, walking the streets and so on. The number of places to eat and variety of food in Tainan has been absolutely amazing, The two vegetarians in our team (that includes me) had absolutely no reason to complain about eating options. It was a wide variety of vegetarian dishes that we got to choose and eat in these three weeks. Am planning to try making some of them when back home!!

Our hosts, from IBM Taiwan, have been so wonderful to all of us. We had a small meeting today to say thanks and how they made a difference to our entire stay. We as a group could not have been so productive without the good care taken by Red Chen.  We fondly named him Red Daddy!!! Will miss Lisa Chen with whom I went out for a few post-dinner walks in NCKU university campus that was near our hotel. Special thanks Anny Tseng who has been so warm and caring and  Tina and Valeria who have such wonderful language skills and did a great job of doing all the translations.

Our SCC Team Tainan, with whom I got to work so closely in last three weeks, has been so high in energy and focus that we could complete most of our work well in time. Wonderful memories to take back of the shared experience of these three weeks.  Thank you  Ed Brill, Donna Painter, Irv Lustig and Hari Madduri.






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Filed under Tainan, Taiwan

NTPD Technical PEP and my 3rd visit to Taiwan in 2013

I am very happy to say that I have been appointed as the Technical-PEP executive for New Taipei City Police Department.  I now have an even better excuse to go and annoy the team in Taiwan from time to time! 🙂

So, I was in the region in December, started in Seoul Korea, then on to Weihai and then Beijing in China and so I seized the opportunity and next stop was back to Taipei.

I ended up flying into Taipei just for one night instead of the planned two nights as I had to leave again for Korea and an urgent client meeting.

So I met with a client first thing in the morning which was a very good meeting, then had some business meetings back at the IBM offices, followed by a late lunch with the team and finally a dash to the airport for the flight to Seoul.


All in all it was much too rushed, however, as always the team is taking care of me, for instance they have continued to look out for interesting items related to my blog on toilets! Please see my blog entries from March 2013! I will not embarrass her by telling you who supplied the following interesting photo!


This interesting, but somewhat flimsy looking contraption is used to convert an “eastern toilet” into a fairly basic “western toilet” and is apparently commonly available in the stores in mainland China, who would have believed it!  I personally think this would be a somewhat risky proposition, requiring good aim and hopefully little “splatter.” However, the general availability of such an item does point to a fairly widespread need! I am sure that our engineers could come up with something more robust, if significantly less portable! Who knows, perhaps next time I will be able to write about the “new IBM Smarter Toilet” stranger things have happened!

By the way, they still have literally hundreds of new places to go and eat, amazing!

As always my time in Taipei was far too short, but hopefully I will be back for a little longer sometime in 2014.

Meanwhile, I continue to be in awe of the influence that those few weeks in March as a member of the Smarter Cities Challenge team have had on both me and my work. Until next time team, and there will be a next time!

#ibmcsc Taiwan #smartercities challenge

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Filed under Alumni reflections, New Taipei City, Taiwan