Ottawa and Surrey, B.C. are the two Canadian cities that will receive part of $50 million in grants from IBM Corp. this year.
That money will be shared with 31 other cities around the world as part of Big Blue’s Smarter Cities Challenge grants, IBM announced yesterday. This is the second year of a three-year program that will see a total of $50 million worth of services distributed among 100 cities. Each city typically gets a $400,000 grant in the form of a team of eight to 12 IBM employees working on an IT project for a period of three weeks.
Ottawa will see a dedicated team of IBM experts work on its land use exercise program for properties surrounding a planned light-rail transit expansion. The project aims to develop the area around the new transit stations in ways that are attractive for residents to live and work there.
Surrey plans to use the IBM experts to improve its growth strategies, service delivery and community engagement.
“We’ll focus the resources on youth and childhood development because we want to use this unique opportunity to help improve our human capital and ensure our future leaders have the tools they need to succeed in the global marketplace,” said mayor Dianne Watts in a press release.
Last year, Edmonton was the first Canadian city named as a recipient of IBM’s grants program. IBM sent a group of consultants to work full-time for three weeks on the city’s open data initiative, a service valued at $400,000.
IBM’s staff helped city staff create a better communications plan during Winter months, Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel writes in an IBM guest blog post, solving a previous problem.
“Now we are reaching out through our website and social media, making sure Edmontonians know what to expect in real time. This has reduced frustration, increased safety, and generally made our city more accessible,” he writes.
IBM invites proposals from cities to receive the grants. Winning cities proposed projects aimed at improving economic and work force development, transportation, sustainability, health, education, and urban planning. One common thread of IBM’s winning projects is “the willingness to exchange ideas and data freely between and among citizens, elected officials, non-profits, business, and city agencies so cities could make more informed and collaborative decisions.”