Technology giant IBM has selected Townsville as one of the first cities in Australia and one of 100 cities worldwide to receive a grant worth $US400,000.
Townsville was a successful applicant in IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge program that builds on the city’s credentials in sustainable living initiatives.
IBM will award a total of $50 million in technology and services to 100 municipalities across the globe over the next three years.
The grant will provide support and access to IBM’s top experts to analyse and recommend ways to support the city’s existing sustainable initiatives as well as provide the skills to potentially develop new technology that will further the city’s push to be environmentally conscious.
Townsville Mayor Les Tyrell said opportunities were vast and the program would tie in the city’s existing practices and projects including the Solar City
Initiative and the Ergon Energy-led Smart Grid bid, and would incorporate projects including CopperString and the National Broadband Network rollout.
Townsville’s business, industry, government and community sectors would also play a part.
“Our key staff have really thought outside the square on this one and have come up with ideas to use existing technology, including social networking to enact change, as well as potentially have a hand in the development of new programs and applications,” he said.
Integrated Sustainability Services executive manager Greg Bruce said embracing new technologies in Townsville was the key to the region’s continued push for city-wide behaviour change in sustainability.
“Townsville City Council has for many years being developing a benchmark community change system for sustainability working with both the business community and residents and we’ve been outstandingly successful on all these accounts,” Mr Bruce said.
”Now with this grant, we want to take that to the next level and explore possibilities for developing and using things such as iPhone applications that remind householders to turn off their electrical appliances as well as home and social networking tools that can put you in touch with people in your neighbourhood who want to car pool."
Mr Bruce said the grant could fund imaginative projects where a public place with a shady umbrella with solar panels on it, could power people’s laptops and Wi-Fi.
“The IBM Smarter Cities Challenge offer provides us with a critical opportunity to fill a major gap in integrating city-wide smarter technologies for not only energy management and reporting but also sustainable behaviours through linking research and programs with time sensitive social media and learning technologies,” he said.
IBM awarded grants to 24 other cities across the world and include Helsinki, Jakarta, Milwaukee,Nice, Rio de Janeiro and Sapporo.