IBM introduces Smarter Cities grant

IBM has announced that it is launching a grant program to help cities use technology to solve their problems, whatever that means. IBM says that it’s putting $50 million into its Smarter Cities Challenge, in a bid to create 100 “smarter cities” around the world.

The cities chosen will have a staff of IBM employees sent to their city to “immerse themselves in local issues involving the administration of healthcare, education, safety, social services, transportation, communications, sustainability, budget management, energy, and utilities.” The team will prioritise the city’s needs and come up with strategies to help.

Each city participating in the Challenge will receive a donation of IBM services and/or technology valued at $250,000-$400,000 to address a specific problem or opportunity selected by the city in collaboration with IBM.

The first cities have already been chosen and include Baltimore, Maryland, Austin, Texas
Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Katowice, Poland, Chengdu, China and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Of course IBM isn’t just doing this out of kindness and charity. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, says the old adage, and it will be another foot in the door to flog its services to cities while building a wider network of contacts.

IBM doesn’t have a very successful track record when it comes to fixing things.

For example, A year back it won a contract from Capita to take over running London’s congestion charge. However in June, reports began to surface that since the takeover, the Auto-Pay system has been fining registered cars tens of thousands of pounds in error, and the system has been plagued with errors since.