Tag Archives: Smartercities Challenge

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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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!!

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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.

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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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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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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.

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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!

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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

Vision for a Smarter County

My colleagues and I started our journey with Pingtung County three weeks ago and it seems like just yesterday.  At that time, we were introduced to the challenge facing this county –

Pingtung County in southern Taiwan, experienced the devastating effects of Typhoon Morakot in 2009.  Representative parts of the county sit below sea level and yet are home to agriculture and other economic ventures.  The crisis from this typhoon led Pingtung County to rethink the way in which they would move forward into the future around multiple dimensions in order to improve and impact citizen well being. Their work has included investment in renewable energy programs and other environmental activities in the hopes of developing a more sustainable community and life for their citizens.  They are now looking to continue their progress with a new vision and roadmap for the future that integrates these key technologies and delivers new levels of impact for its citizens.

We engaged as an IBM team to help them with this vision and a roadmap that would incorporate their successes with renewable energy to date, build upon those successes in the form of new technologies and smart grid concepts, and help map a long term strategy for the future working both locally and with national Taiwan entities.

What we found when we arrived was an established vision, broadly speaking, for renewable energy in the county driven by Magistrate Tsao and supported by his very capable leadership team.  This vision coupled with outsized passion and diligent execution by the Pingtung County team allowed the county to deliver solid outcomes over the last four years and deliver a strong foundation from which they could move to the next level of sustainability.

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During our three week project we had the pleasure of meeting with over 60 stakeholders in 39 briefings.  All of this information made for better conclusions and recommendations by the IBM team and allowed us to really get to know the local environment.  Thanks to Pingtung County and Lisa Huang for their hard work to coordinate all of these activities and make them happen so flawlessly!

On Friday, we presented our Smarter Cities Challenge final report to the Magistrate and his team.  IBM was represented by the Smarter Cities Challenge executive team, Taiwan Country General Manager Jennifer Hwang and distinguished guests from the IBM  Greater China Group and Taiwan teams.

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In our final report we made a series of recommendations that address the county´s greatest challenges to integrating their renewable portfolio and creating a more self sufficient model.  Recommendations around integrated grid operations and analytics will allow the county to analyze very specifically those indicators that will deliver outcomes and impact in the community including key environmental indicators.

The road ahead will be an interesting one for the county taking the next step in their sustainable future.  The task at hand is not easy, but at the same time this county has taken on challenges much greater and succeeded.  We have seen this first hand spending time with them and we look forward to seeing what they do next.

I would like to acknowledge and thank the many people we have had the good fortune to work with over the last several weeks.  On behalf of my IBM colleagues, a special thanks to Magistrate Tsao and the entire Pingtung County team.

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Thanks to the extended IBM team including Jennifer Hwang, Lisa Chen, Anny Tseng, our translators Tina and Valeria, and our master of logistics Red!  There were also many others from IBM Taiwan and our local businesses that we thank by extension.

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…and thanks to my executive colleagues on the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge team.  I speak for all of us in saying we thoroughly enjoyed the experience working together on behalf of the Pingtung County team, citizens and community on this important project.

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We have now all departed Taiwan and are back in our respective countries with our families.  We look back on what was a life changing event for all of us thanks to the people of Pingtung County and Taiwan.  We say a heartfelt thank you and goodbye to our IBM friends from Taipei.

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…and this great country.

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Building global community in Pingtung!

As an IBM Smarter Cities Challenge team we are in Taiwan to help the county of Pingtung address important energy challenges for the county and the future well-being of its citizens.  In addition to the project itself, one of the more enjoyable parts of the Smarter Cities Challenge project is the work we as IBMers get to do in the local communities with schools and with kids.

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The goal of these interactions is to give back locally to the community and to thank them for their kind hospitality towards IBM.  We focused this trip on teaching Taiwanese kids English words or phrases, teaching them how to use English when interacting in everyday situations (such as going to a convenience store), and teaching them songs or topics that integrate with their school lesson plans.  The amazing thing, while we were here to help teach them, is just how much we learned in the process about the local traditions and culture, much of which has been passed down orally over many generations.  We simply had a great time teaching these kids and learning from them.

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These kids, working with their teachers and principals, invested many days preparing for the IBM team, rehearsing their programs and delivering flawlessly for us.  In some cases they worked 3-4 days and over weekends on their preparation.  In one case, the students from Taiwu were actually competitive in the US Grammy process for one of their performances.  We were all very impressed.

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Moneshia wrote in one of our earlier blogs about our time in Taiwu (pictured above) with that community.  Taiwu is an aboriginal village of the Paiwanese culture, rebuilt after Typhoon Morakot.  She described in the blog the spiritual nature of our visit, the passion of the Principal at the school and the things we did with the kids on that visit.  It was a wonderful time!

Also early in our visit to Pingtung County we had the pleasure of seeing another traditional dance and that was the Dragon Dance from the kids at Yuh-Kang Elementary School.  Fantastic precision from these kids and the IBM team did a little dance of its own!

Yuh-Kang Kids

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IBM team – note the difference in fine motor skills and coordination between the two!

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The final day of community service, a full day, was spent in Kenting located on the southern tip of Taiwan.  Kenting is a beautiful part of Pingtung County, home to the Maanshan nuclear plant which we visited as part of our project and the National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium.  The aquarium had many features, exhibits and fish in common with my hometown Georgia Aquarium.  A great facility here in Taiwan that many people may not know about because of its location, but a lot of credit is owed to Dr. Fan and his team for their work maintaining a world class aquarium for many years.

Maanshan plant

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Sculpture outside aquarium

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View of Kenting Coast from behind aquarium

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Our time in Kenting was short but we had the chance to spend a full day with two groups of kids.  First, at Kenting Elementary School we divided up into 5 groups with each IBM Executive teaching a classroom of kids of varying ages songs such as Farmer in the Dell and asking each other questions in English and Mandarin / Taiwanese.  We talked about families, brothers, sisters and other normal topics.  The kids were very inquisitive and what you learn is that kids are the same all around the world.

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The school also has what they call an English Village on one floor of the school where the kids learn how to buy food at a 7-11 convenience store (very big chain in Taiwan), check in at an airport and other everyday activities.  I think the kids very much enjoyed the interaction and enjoyed showing how much they know about English and the world they live in.

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In the afternoon we spent time in Hengchun village with a school teaching the ancient musical art of the Moon Lute.  There is a giant sculpture of the moon lute as you enter the village and many of the kids grow up learning it.

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We spent time with the kids hearing their performances.  Their performances were phenomenal; very rhythmic with wonderful emotion and with a variety of instruments including the moon lute.  Another school with a very passionate Headmaster and strong teachers that loved their kids and their craft.

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The Headmaster used some creativity to bring the IBM team and kids together by creating a competition where each of the 5 IBM executives broke into groups with the kids and their teacher, taught the kids a song and then presented the song in front of the group.  All the groups were high achievers, bringing creative motion and “interpretation” to their songs.

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These events were all wonderful and could not have been made possible without the wonderful leadership of our Community Service Coordinator Anny Tseng and a big help from our Corporate Citizenship Advisor Lisa Chen and our IBM Taiwan volunteers.  Anny did a wonderful job coordinating all of the events, developing a great relationship with the Principals and schools, and ensuring the IBM team had everything they needed to succeed with these kids.  Thanks Anny!

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In the end it was the least we could do as an IBM team to show our commitment to a country and county that has treated us very well over our three weeks.  We will all have life long lasting memories of these communities and kids.

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