The City of Greater Geraldton in Western Australia has been selected to receive an IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grant for 2012
The grant provides the City of Greater Geraldton with access to IBM's top experts to analyse and recommend ways Geraldton can become an even better place in which to live and work.
IBM Australia’s manager, corporate citizenship and affairs, Miranda Scarff, told Government News the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge is a competitive grant program in which IBM is awarding a total of $50 million worth of technology and services to 100 municipalities worldwide through 2013.
“Geraldton was one of 33 cities worldwide to receive an IBM Smarter Cities Challenge in 2012 and it is the second Australian city to receive the grant, with Townsville named a winner in 2011,” she said.
“The Greater City of Geraldton submitted a strong application for the Smarter Cities Challenge competition.”
According to Ms Scarff Geraldton’s submission highlighted the city’s desire to capitalise on recent technology infrastructure investments within the region, including the national broadband network (NBN) and to provide improved citizen services.
“The city displayed a strong personal commitment to provide the IBM team access to its officials, local business and citizens to gain an in-depth understanding of what’s happening in the city,” she said.
“It also demonstrated a solid track record of innovative problem solving with award winning citizen engagement projects such as 2029, Big Ideas Festival, Enquiry By Design.
According to Ms Scarff City of Greater Geraldton's CEO Tony Brun was committed to open access of information and sees the huge potential for sharing data across the city, state and country.
“The city has demonstrated it's willingness to share city data publicly through their early involvement in CityForward,” she said.
“The plan was a free platform to help visualise and interact with city data from around the world, allowing policy makers, citizen-advocates and the public a new perspective on their cities.
“It helps them make more informed decisions that improve services and make their citizens and businesses healthier, happier, safer and more productive.”
Ms Scarff said the grant provides the City of Greater Geraldton with access to IBM's top experts to analyse and recommend ways Geraldton can become an even better place in which to live and work.
“Rather than physical products, IBM provide something even more valuable – human expertise,” she said.
“A team of up to six experts will spend three weeks living in Geraldton to assess the local environment and its challenges and gather information from the Council, local businesses and citizens before providing a series of recommendations.”
The City of Greater Geraldton submitted its application for the IBM competition last year.
However Geraldton has been an increasingly prominent example of forward-thinking city planning and management, Ms Scarff said.
The city won the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) International Liveable Communities ‘LivCom’ Award for community empowerment and engagement in 2011 and has received international accolades for democratic leadership and innovation.
“Geraldton understands the opportunity to capitalise on recent technology infrastructure investments within the region, including the NBN to improve citizen services and data sharing between agencies,” Ms Scarff said.
“New technologies will provide the city’s leaders with the ability to process more information about the city’s operations at a faster rate.
“The roadmap’s objective is to ensure Geraldton is able to use this data to shape more effective service delivery and policies ultimately improve the living quality of all citizens.”
Ms Scarff said the city will utilise the talent and experience of the global IBM team to develop an integrated and holistic approach across many of these projects.
“The team will deliver recommendations which will enable improved data sharing and decision making,” she said.
City of Greater Geraldton Mayor, Ian Carpenter said the Smarter Cities Challenge grant offers Geraldton a opportunity to put itself forward of urban planning and development for the future.
“We’re seeing a convergence of factors which set the stage for rapid advances in the efficiency and scope of citizen services,” he said.
“IBM’s smarter cities grant comes at a pivotal time in Geraldton’s development as we seek to improve the living quality of all our citizens,” he said.
The 2011 IBM grant winner, Townsville in Queensland became a part of the Smarter Cities Challenge family with access to a network of cities undertaking projects which leverage smart technology and open data for improved decision making.