Burlington IBM Smarter Cities Challenge



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IBM Smarter Cities Challenge Engagement: April 1 – 19, 2013 

How did Burlington receive the Smarter City Designation by IBM? 

On November 12, 2012, City of Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger and IBM officials announced the selection of Burlington as the smallest U.S. city to ever receive an IBM Smarter City designation.  Launched in 2010, the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge is a 3-year, $50 million philanthropic initiative to contribute the skills and expertise of teams of top-talent IBMers to address the key challenges facing 100 competitively selected cities around the world.  Each city participating in the challenge receives a team of five to six IBM experts to work with the City for a three week engagement period on a strategic challenge identified by the Mayor and top City leaders.

During the engagement, the IBM team meets with dozens of stakeholders in government, business, not-for-profit and other organizations to examine the city as a “system of systems” gathering diverse perspectives about root causes and potential solutions to the challenge at hand.  At the end of the engagement, the IBM team delivers both strategic recommendations to address the challenge, as well as a written road map for implementation. 

In year three of the Smarter Cities Challenge initiative, IBM challenged cities to propose innovative projects for IBM experts to address, including strategies focused on:  

  • 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.  

The Mayor’s Office and the Burlington Electric Department (BED) worked together to submit a strong and ultimately successful application focused on sustainability and energy efficiency, and proposed that IBM send a team to address how we work together to reduce our reliance on greenhouse gases.

 The application leveraged:  

  • The Smart Grid, the City’s new advanced meter system, and all of new the raw data provided by the advanced meters.  
  • The long-standing political will of the City, the State and Burlington’s institutions to address environmental issues.
  • The many energy efficiency and renewable energy resources, funds and organizations in the State.  

Mayor Weinberger and other City, State, and community leaders are optimistic that the IBM Smarter Cities engagement will result in the development of a strategic plan for how to best use the technology BED has deployed and the policies the City has put in place over the past three decades to maximum advantage in addressing the challenges of climate change. As a City with a strong environmental ethic, Burlington would like to be the leader in identifying how communities throughout the world can make a measurable change in greenhouse gas emissions while simultaneously strengthening their economies and financial positions.

For more information, please visit the following links:

IBM Wants to Help Burlington Reduce Its Carbon Footprint — No Strings Attached (Seven Days VT)

Smarter Cities Challenge Website

Burlington lands 'smarter-city' grant from IBM (Burlington Free Press)  

IBM Awards Vermont City $400,000 (WPTZ)

IBM Names Worldwide Recipients of 2013 Smarter Cities Challenge Grants to Improve Urban Life (IBM News Room)

City of Burlington Earns IBM Smarter Cities Challenge Grant  (VermontBiz)

Burlington Wins IBM Smarter Cities Grant  (WCAX)