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Home > Leadership > Mayor > Archived Press Releases > 2012 Archives > November 2012 > Buffalo Earns IBM Smarter Cities Challenge Grant

Buffalo Earns IBM Smarter Cities Challenge Grant

Contact: Lorey Schultz
              (716) 851-5545

Buffalo to Partner with IBM to Improve Quality of Life for City Residents and Businesses

BUFFALO - Mayor Byron Brown is pleased to announce that IBM has selected the City of Buffalo to receive a competitive IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grant. The grant provides Buffalo with access in 2013 to some of IBM's top experts to analyze and recommend ways the city can become an even better place in which to live and work. 

“I am pleased that IBM has selected Buffalo as a Smarter Cities Challenge Grant Recipient based on our winning proposal which outlined how the city uses and has upgraded its technology to assess priorities and design strategies to effectively and efficiently meet the on-going needs of our neighborhoods,” said Mayor Brown. “Buffalo will receive an IBM competitive grant valued at about $400,000; this grant will allow us to work with top IBM executives to make optimum use of data among public and private entities to better understand and address complex neighborhood issues.”

Launched in 2011, the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge is a three-year, 100-city, 50-million competitive grant program.  The program, which is IBM's single-largest philanthropic initiative, assigns a team of six top IBM experts to each winning city to study a key issue identified by the city's leadership.  This year, Buffalo, one of 400 applicants worldwide, focused its application on quality of life issues, turning Buffalo into an even ‘smarter city’ by combining public and private data to more effectively address areas of crime, abandoned properties, vandalism, blight, pollution, school absenteeism, violence and substance abuse in neighborhoods.   By combining the information in a centralized data base, the city and its partners hope to better understand and address the different complex issues that are prevalent in some Buffalo neighborhoods.

"Congratulations to Buffalo for earning an IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grant in 2013.  Buffalo distinguished itself among its peers by convincingly demonstrating its preparation and willingness to make the kind of improvements that will improve its residents' quality of life and become a smarter city," said Stanley S. Litow, IBM Vice President of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs, and president of IBM's Foundation.  "We consider it a privilege to share with your city the talent and expertise of our most gifted employees, who are the envy of the industry.  They have premier skills in a range of disciplines -- all useful for helping to build smarter cities and a smarter planet."

Well before the IBM team arrives for its three-week pro bono consulting engagement valued at $400,000, (date to be determined) the team will have already been hard at work studying the city's issue.  After they arrive, the team will work with city officials to analyze data, and solicit the input of dozens of local agencies and advocacy groups.  IBM then provides detailed recommendations for how the city might efficiently and effectively address the issue.

This year, 400 cities around the world once again competed vigorously to benefit from IBM's talent. The winning cities proposed innovative projects and areas of focus for IBM experts. These included strategies that address:

  • Economic and Workforce Development -- reducing local dependence on a single industry
  • Social Services - creating an ecosystem that supports independent living for a growing senior citizen community
  • Sustainability - setting policies around billing rates, electric vehicle use, and solar power generation on an upgraded power grid
  • Capital Budget Planning - enabling citizens to request expenditures, while analyzing their potential impact
  • Urban Planning - taking a more systematic, data-driven approach to housing policy, downtown revitalization, zoning, and permits

In 2012, IBM provided expert counsel to 33 cities worldwide who had earned IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grants.  These included engagements in:

  • Cheongju, Korea, where IBM recommended smarter transportation strategies
  • Dortmund, Germany, and Malaga Spain, where IBM formulated plans for economic, workforce, skills development
  • Jacksonville, USA, where IBM outlined steps for downtown revitalization
  • Louisville, USA, where IBM showed how the city could use data to identify, predict and mitigate conditions that trigger asthma
  • Nairobi, Kenya, where IBM created a plan for traffic management 
  • Geraldton, Australia, where IBM suggested ways for the city to become a leader in smart grid technology adoption and digital services
  • Curitaba, Brazil, where IBM suggested approaches to sustainability and citizen engagement

In year-one and two of the Smarter Cities Challenge, IBM completed work in 64 cities globally, deploying nearly 400 of its most talented experts who delivered concrete and measurable results to winning cities.

The need to use innovative approaches that address civic challenges has never been greater. In 2008, according to the United Nations, more than half the world's population began living in cities for the first time. These population centers are more economically powerful, politically influential, and technologically advanced than at any time in history. But they also struggle with increased demand for services, along with budgetary and operational challenges. 

Smarter Cities Challenge is a variant of IBM's Corporate Service Corps, a pro bono consulting program that assists government with projects that intersect business, technology, and society.  Since its launch in 2008, Corporate Service Corps has sent more than 2,000 of IBM's top talent based in 50 countries on more than 200 team assignments in 30 countries.  While Corporate Service Corps focuses on the developing world, IBM's Smarter Cities Challenge addresses urban concerns in both industrialized and developing countries. 

Visit the CitizenIBM blog to read about some of the lessons learned during previous IBM Smarter Cities Challenge engagements, and to better understand the challenges that cities face.  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 more than 100 years. 

To learn more about IBM's corporate citizenship initiatives, visit: and  To find out more about IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grants, please visit IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge web site at  Follow us on Twitter @citizenIBM