IBM Smarter Cities – the future of cities?

IBM Smarter Cities focuses on improving “information to make better decisions”, “anticipating and resolving problems proactively”, and the coordination of “resources to operate more efficiently” through advanced analytic solutions usually offered ““cloud computing, analytics, mobility, and social business” in the areas of public safety, health and human services, education, infrastructure, energy, water, and the environment (link).   IBM works with city leaders to “select appropriate analytics programs” and either provides its own or partner’s software for an “annual licensing fee.” (link)


There are many ways in which increased data can lead to “smarter” solutions for cities.  Networks of scanners and sensors and new analytical software can lead to identifying leaks in water pipes, identifying crime suspects using algorithms, assessing damage from fire, making public transportation more efficient, and other improvements.  Many believe that these technological improvements can lead to cost savings and improve quality of life.


Potential Negatives?

Some feel that cities are investing in IT when it is not necessarily beneficial or can lead to results that are promised.  Others can feel that “smart cities” are like the High Modernist urban planning of the twentieth century that ignored people’s needs and interests (  A useful course called “TechniCity” can be found on Coursera exploring these different issues (

Final Verdict?

There is definitely a wide variety of smarter city technology that IBM is offering to cities to use for improvement.  We think the main question cities face is what technology is worth investing in and how they can balance present needs with future benefits.  It seems more independent research on how smarter city technology can benefit cities would be useful reading to city planners in order to determine what smarter city technology to invest in.


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