Mayor Miro Weinberger and IBM Officials Announce City of Burlington Earns IBM Smarter Cities Challenge Grant


November 14, 2012
Contact:  Mike Kanarick

Mayor Miro Weinberger and IBM Officials Announce City of Burlington Earns IBM Smarter Cities Challenge Grant
IBM to Study and Advise Burlington on Sustainable, Renewable Energy

Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger and IBM officials today announced that IBM has selected the City of Burlington to receive an IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grant (#smartercities).  The grant provides Burlington in 2013 with a team of IBM's top experts to analyze and recommend ways Burlington can become an even better, greener place in which to live and work through increased reliance on and use of sustainable, renewable energy sources.  Burlington is the smallest US city to earn the grant.

“What a great day for the City of Burlington,” said Weinberger.  “We truly are honored that IBM has recognized and believes in our strong vision for Burlington’s sustainable energy future and will dedicate substantial resources toward providing our City with the knowledge and tools we need to achieve our renewable energy goals.”

The City of Burlington expects to focus its grant on creating a strategic plan to save energy costs and efficiently reduce greenhouse gas emissions by leveraging:

  • The City’s new Advanced Meter system;
  • The long-standing political will of the City, the State, and Burlington institutions; and
  • Existing energy efficiency and renewable energy resources.

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.

The IBM officials who joined Mayor Weinberger at today’s press conference at Burlington Electric Department included: Janette Bombardier, Vermont Director of Site Operations and Senior State Executive; Marian B. Lawlor, Senior Manager, Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs; Chris Gillman, Senior Engineering Manager; and John M. Cohn, IBM Fellow, Corporate Technical Strategy.

"Congratulations to the City of Burlington for earning an IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grant in 2013,” said Bombardier.  “Burlington distinguished itself among its peers by convincingly demonstrating its preparation and willingness to make the kind of improvements that will lead to improved quality of life for its residents and to Burlington becoming a smarter city.  We consider it a privilege to share with Burlington 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."

The City team who participated in the press conference included: Barbara L. Grimes, General Manager of Burlington Electric Department (BED); Kenneth A. Nolan, Manager of Power Resources; Mary Sullivan, BED Communications Coordinator; and Carina Driscoll, Assistant to the Mayor for Innovation and Mayoral Initiatives.

Just after the press conference, Mayor Weinberger, Nolan, Sullivan, and Driscoll boarded a BED van bound for the 2012 Smarter Cities Challenge Summit in Palisades, NY.  The summit begins this evening and continues throughout the day tomorrow, including an opening plenary session by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, President of the US Conference of Mayors, and a variety of panels with distinguished city leaders and urban thought leaders from around the world.  Weinberger and the Burlington team also will meet with IBM’s Smarter Cities experts during the summit.  Weinberger has been invited to speak during the summit on a panel for 2013 Smarter Cities Challenge winners, where he will share Burlington’s plans to most effectively leverage its grant.

After the summit and well before the IBM team arrives for its three-week pro bono consulting engagement this spring valued at $400,000, the IBMers already will be hard at work studying sustainable energy in Burlington.  After the team arrives in Burlington, its members will work with City officials to analyze data and solicit the input of dozens of local agencies and advocacy groups.  IBM then will provide detailed recommendations for how Burlington might efficiently and effectively address sustainable energy and its goal of reducing its reliance on non-renewable energy sources.

For year three of the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge, 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:

  • Sustainability - setting policies around billing rates, electric vehicle use, and solar power generation on an upgraded power grid
  • 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
  • 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 that 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, FL, where IBM outlined steps for downtown revitalization
  • Louisville, KY, 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, the smallest city (2011 census population 26,872) to earn the grant, 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 years 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 website at  Follow them on Twitter @citizenIBM.


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