Townsville chosen for IBM grant
TOWNSVILLE has been chosen as the first city in Australia – and one of just 100 worldwide – to receive a $ 500,000 grant from global technology giant IBM.
The Smarter Cities Challenge program will provide exclusive access to IBM’s top experts to analyse and recommend ways to support the city’s existing sustainable initiatives as well as provide the skills to potentially develop new technology that would further the city’s push to be environmentally conscious.
Council Integrated Sustainability Services executive manager Greg Bruce said embracing new technologies was the key to the region’s continued push for city-wide behaviour change in sustainability.
‘‘ Now with this grant, we want to take that to the next level and explore possibilities for developing and using things such as iPhone applications that remind householders to turn off their electrical appliances as well as home and social networking tools that can put you in touch with people in your neighbourhood who want to car pool,’’ Mr Bruce said.
‘‘ Imagine a cool public place where a shady umbrella with solar panels on it can power people’s laptops and wi-fi.
‘‘ We’re pretty confident that if we can learn how to connect to the community in new ways, it’s going to really move the city forward as a world leader in sustainable initiatives.’’
The IBM Smarter Cities Challenge is a competitive grant program in which IBM is awarding a total of $ 50 million worth of technology and services to 100 cities worldwide over the next three years.
IBM Australia Smarter Cities executive Catherine Caruana-McManus said 24 cities had been named so far including Helsinki, Jakarta, Milwaukee, Nice, Rio de Janeiro as well as Sapporo in Japan.
‘‘ We selected Townsville because of its commitment to the use of data to make better decisions, and for its desire to explore and act on smarter solutions for their most pressing concerns,’’ she said.
‘‘ The cities we picked are eager to implement programs that tangibly improve the quality of life in their areas, and to create road maps for other cities to follow.’’
Townsville Mayor Les Tyrell said the program would tie in the city’s existing practices and projects including the Solar City initiative and the Ergon Energy-led Smart Grid bid, and would i n c o r p o r a t e p r o j e c t s i n c l u d i n g CopperString and the National Broadband Network rollout.
‘‘ This is a monumental opportunity to position Townsville as a worldleader for environmental change,’’ Cr Tyrell said
‘‘ Our key staff have really thought outside the square on this one and have come up with ideas to use existing technology, including social networking to enact change, as well as potentially have a hand in the development of new programs and applications.’’