The City of Edmonton is among 24 in the world that will receive $400,000 each in consulting services from IBM as part of the company’s IBM Smarter Cities Challenge. The consulting services will be used to find creative ways to use data and technology.
“We’re going to get some of the smartest minds in the world to come to work with our staff at the City of Edmonton,” Mayor Stephen Mandel told a news conference.
“You can pick the mind of someone who’s substantially high up in IBM. (It’s) unbelievable.”
A team of six to eight technical experts, researchers and consultants in transportation and business intelligence will spend three weeks with city staff in May, chief information officer Chris Moore said.
They’ll help with work to find ways of applying and “mashing” together numerous types of data collected by the transportation department, such as collision statistics and traffic flow reports, he said.
Once systems are devised for using this information so it provides the most value, the plan is to apply these ideas to handling data in other areas, such working out ways to better allocate spending between city departments.
The IBM Smarter Cities Challenge is primarily designed to help cities tackle infrastructure and economic problems. A city like Edmonton, while the capital of a fantastically prosperous province in a fantastically prosperous nation, is not without problems in these regards.
Now, while I’ve never lived in Edmonton, I’ve been a visitor several times, and two civic challenges sort of jumped out at me. First of all, Edmonton’s a big place, especially when you consider that Edmonton has only slightly over 1 million people in the greater metropolitan area, and density is quite low. For comparison’s sake, Vancouver has around five times the density of Edmonton. This has to be a headache for anyone involved in city planning. Next, while Edmonton does have a light rail system, it only has 15 stations. Could more stations be of use to Edmontonians? Is it even financially feasible? Maybe IBM’s staff could help provide some new insight.
So here’s an appeal to Techvibes readers from Edmonton: what sort of challenges within The City of Champions do you think the IBM consultants should help address? Roads? Rail? Development? Something else? Let us know what you think could be improved in the comments section.