Congratulations to the 2015-2016 Smarter Cities Challenge Winners

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Congratulations to the 2015-2016 Smarter Cities Challenge Winners

Monday, May 11, 2015 - 5:00pm

CAMPAIGN: IBM Problem Solving in Communities


Today IBM announced the 2015-16 Smarter Cities Challenge winning cities, including unveiling a new partnership with Twitter. We had the honor of participating in SCC Pyeongchang County, South Korea in April, all of us returning home just three weeks ago. The experience is still extremely fresh in our minds as we put the final touches on the report that will be delivered to Mayor JaeKook Sim next month.


Today’s announcement of 16 new projects in cities around the world makes us all excited, and a little jealous of the cities, their mayors and the IBMers who are about to embark on this incredible journey.

When the IBM team rolls into town, watch out! As Mayor Sim said about our team – IBMers are passionate about their work. Yes we are! Our project focused on tourism economic development. Pyeongchang County will be host to the 2018 Winter Olympics; large investments in infrastructure are currently being made, including a high-speed rail line connecting Pyeongchang and Seoul. Pyeongchang wants to make sure these investments will be sustainable after the Olympics. They also want to balance tourism between the north part of the county, where the Olympics will take place, and the South where economic development is greatly needed. We interviewed more than 60 stakeholders from the County as well as the local business community about the issue we tackled, spent time in the field assessing ground realities, spent countless hours researching best practices and case studies, identifying resources and formulating our recommendations. It was truly a labor of love for the people of Pyeongchang we came to know so well in a short amount of time.

When you participate in the Smarter Cities Challenge, you put a stake in the ground and become so passionate about the county or city and their issue, that your drive to succeed and deliver the best possible road map for the city is relentless. Our team came from five countries around the world to help one county in South Korea. We each brought a different point of view, skills and experience. We each learned something new during the project, from working in cross cultural teams to dividing and conquering the workload, to learning about a new culture.

It is truly a gift to be able to focus on one project for three weeks, and we suspect that can be the difficult part for a city. We came to Pyeongchang with a single purpose and focus, while they still had many other issues to tackle each day to keep the County running smoothly. To our amazement, they gave us complete access to anyone we needed interview and supported us throughout the three weeks we were on the ground, by directing us to the most amazing food and the best cultural activities the region has to offer!

We arrived to an already planned and packed schedule of meetings with key stakeholders! We hit the ground running and did not stop until the last day when we presented our findings and recommendations to more than 30 key Pyeongchang County officials.

We provided 11 recommendations with a strong focus on how they will promote tourism in the future. By incorporating data and analytics, Pyeongchang will be able to tap into key insights on tourist information and behaviors to drive marketing efforts and tourist experiences. Pyeongchang offers unique qualities that differentiate it from other
tourist destinations and we focused on how they can build on some of their great
natural resources.

Smarter Cities Challenge is a give and take experience. We spent many hours discussing the issue and the merits of our recommendations with the County’s leadership throughout the three-week project. We were not so bold as to think we had all the answers going in. We understood that what we proposed had to be actionable and cover both short and long term goals. Each community faces different issues, so before we could propose anything, we had to listen to understand the challenge from many angles.

Honorable Mayor Jae-Kook Sim and his staff made our jobs easy. They were warm, welcoming and always available. In the words of Mayor Shim, IBM also earned our respect by being humble to accept and respect the opinions of the stakeholders.

To the 2015-16 mayors and city leaders, congratulations!  You are about to have some of IBM’s best and brightest help you find some answers to addressing your issue.  They will immerse themselves in your community and you will be amazed at the level of understanding they will gain about your challenge and the analytical ways they will recommend solving it.  We have no doubt that our colleagues who will come to your city will work tirelessly to ensure the recommendations they make are actionable.

To the 2015 class of SCC candidates, congratulations also to you! We are confident that you too will find this experience to be life changing and inspirational. We are here to support you on your journey and look forward to reading your city experiences on the SCC blog.

To our 600 plus colleagues around the world who have been to an SCC city before us, we welcome you to share your own experiences in the comments section below.

Antonio Galbe Bartolome (Madrid, Spain), Joy McConville Belfoure (Denver, United States), Stephanie Carmel (Maplewood, United States), EunSun “Sunny” Chung (Seoul, Korea), Souvik Das (Kolkata, India) and Justin Webb (Vancouver, Canada) comprised the Pyeongchang County Smarter Cities Challenge team. IBM’s new partnership with Twitter will enhance the value of selected Smarter Cities Challenge grants with advanced data analytics. Three of this year’s winning cities – Melbourne, Australia and Detroit and Memphis, USA – will receive access to historic and current Twitter data pertaining to their cities. In addition, an expert from Twitter will join the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge team in at least one of the winning cities to perform deep analysis of the data.

Related Resources:

IBM Names 16 Municipalities as IBM Smarter Cities Challenge Grant Winners

See the Complete List of 2015-16 IBM Smarter Cities Challenge winners

IBM Smarter Cities Challenge: A Shared Passion for Pyeongchang County’s Success

Read More About the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge/Twitter Partnership

Read More Stories About the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge

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CAMPAIGN: IBM Problem Solving in Communities