IBM Smarter Cities Challenge team arrives in city

By on 18/09/2012 in Leader, News

Experts from leading technology firm IBM are in Birmingham as part of a three-week spell in which they will explore ways the city council can deliver services more effectively to citizens.

Birmingham is the first English city to receive the support from the firm as part of its Smarter Cities Challenge Grant, a competitive programme in which 100 municipalities worldwide are being aided from 2011-13.

In total, 33 cities are benefitting this year from the support - which will see IBM staff analyse systems and processes that are already in place, to consider if improvements can be made to decision-making.

Across Birmingham, approximately £7.5billion is spent within the public sector, and in a time of reduced funding from central government, the council is determined to ensure that every pound it spends is used as well as possible.

Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “It is a major coup for Birmingham to have been selected for this package of support.

“We are keen to make the most of this opportunity because the financial challenges we face mean we have to maximise the effectiveness of every penny we spend as we strive to improve our quality of life.

“I am particularly looking forward to the opportunities this opens up to share knowledge and expertise with the other cities around the world that are also a part of this programme. We want to become a world-class city, and learning from others is a key step towards achieving this.”

IBM selected cities that made the strongest case for participating in the Smarter Cities Challenge.

“The cities that have been selected are all different, but they had one clear similarity: the strong personal commitment by the city's leadership to put in place the changes needed to help the city make smarter decisions,” said Mark Wakefield, IBM UK Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs Manager.

“These cities demonstrated a desire to set an example for other municipalities, an eagerness to collaborate with multiple stakeholders, and a strong commitment to consider implementing recommendations the city felt would be the most feasible and beneficial to their residents.”

Both the council and IBM fully expect that the model will be of major interest to other councils, particularly the larger metropolitan councils in the UK and similar cities elsewhere in Europe.

During Smarter Cities Challenge engagements, IBM helps recipients using tools such its free website called City Forward

The site gives policy makers, citizen-advocates and the public a new perspective on how their respective cities are performing compared with others. It captures vital statistics on the performance of many specific services such as education, safety, health, transportation, land use, utilities, energy, environment, personal income, spending, population growth and employment.

Users can then gather, compare, analyse, visualise, and discuss statistical trends, giving them real-world insight that can help shape public policy.


Notes to editors

The initiative has the full support of all partners on the Local Strategic Partnership (Be Birmingham), Digital Birmingham and the Local Enterprise Partnership.

The Smarter Cities Challenge is sponsored by IBM's Corporate Citizenship program and IBM's International Foundation. IBM has been a leader in corporate social responsibility and citizenship for 100 years. To learn more about IBM's corporate citizenship initiatives, please visit:

The approximate value of each Smarter Cities Challenge grant is equivalent to as much as US$400,000 (approx £250k).  To find out more about IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grants, please visit and

The award to Birmingham marks the second such grant to a UK city. In 2011 Glasgow City Council received a grant. For further information:

For further information on Birmingham City Council, visit: and

Media Contacts

Kris Kowalewski, Birmingham City Council: 0121 303 3621, Email:

John Galvez, UK External Relations, IBM, Mobile: 07734 104275, Email:

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