Sponsored by IBM, the City Forward website can be used to compare a selected city’s characteristics and challenges to others around the world. In the process, users can identify trends, pinpoint similarities and get ideas for how a city may be improved. These city stories then can be shared and discussed within the City Forward Community.
Completely free of charge, City Forward connects to the work done by Smarter Cities Challenge teams around the world. The website provides data for more than 100 cities, and offers both city leaders and the public the unique ability to consolidate multiple data sources. The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS) recently recognized City Forward with its 2013 Corporate Social Responsibility Webby Award.
As you can tell in the photo below, I was extremely proud to accept the Smart Infrastructure Award we took home with IBM from Infrastructure Partnerships Australia 2013 National Infrastructure Awards in late March. For the Townsville City Council in North Queensland, Australia, this award is recognition of a great project that’s only been possible through our partnership with IBM and the application of smart thinking and technology.
The pilot is breaking new ground in the way data is collected and analysed in near real-time. At its core, the program will help identify and enable ways for the people of Townsville to drive water conservation by empowering residents with smart technology to assist with positive behavioural change.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of innovation is its potential to enable positive societal change. Citizens around the world will reap the benefits of this change as the cost of computing power decreases while the performance we get from these systems increases. Couple this with the fact that we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data everyday, and governments have an optimal opportunity to develop “data for the public good.”
The path forward for using data to improve citizens’ lives and the public good requires new ways of managing and accessing that data. Governments need to start thinking about their data as a natural resource that can have a profound impact on how they address societal challenges such as energy conservation, health care, and transportation. The most open and cost-effective way of doing this is by managing data with cloud computing systems.
As the Industrial Revolution of our time, the Internet’s rise has caused a sweeping disruption within our culture, our society and how we do business. It has ousted the traditional career path, opened endless doors for entrepreneurs, and catalyzed a profound change around jobs – determining which are in highest demand, and the skills needed for them.
If you had predicted this in 1992, you likely would have been deemed insane. Before the World Wide Web took hold in the mid 1990’s, proprietary providers like Prodigy, CompuServe and AOL dominated, allowing users to sign on within their contained web and interact in limited ways. But despite skepticism and efforts to thwart it, the open-architecture Internet prevailed – revolutionizing itself, its possibilities, and our world.
When the Internet reached this tipping point, our education systems and workforce were far from prepared. And we’re still catching up. According to IBM’s 2012 Tech Trends report,
1 in 10 organizations feel they don’t have the IT skills they need. And our slow response to the Internet Revolution is poised to widen this void. Nearly half of educators and students surveyed felt there were major gaps in their institution’s ability to meet IT skill needs.
“According to IDC, almost 1.7 million cloud-related jobs went unfilled in 2012 due to lack of training….Depending on how we react, this is either a tech industry crisis, or a tremendous economic opportunity.”
Cloud computing is now teetering on the edge of this same precipice. As the innovation poised to instrument our world, an open-architecture cloud is predicted to be more transformational and pervasive than the Internet. We can’t let our education system, and our future workforce, miss this opportunity again.
IBM donates services and software to NGOs around the world to support their work in addressing issues related to social services, education, disaster recovery and workforce development. In 2012, IBM made 25 grants of SmartCloud for Social Business, amounting to approximately $500,000 in value to organizations doing exceptional work in these areas. In the article below, the Head of Technology Services at UK non-profit Lasa writes about how her organization uses IBM SmartCloud technology to help other non-profits serve their clients more effectively.
Lasa is a medium sized non-profit based in London, UK. We provide strategic and innovative training and services to organisations who in turn provide expert independent welfare rights advice to citizens. In addition to this, one of our passions is helping other small and medium sized non-profits make the most of the benefits that the strategic use of technology offers – to enable the delivery of services that create positive social impacts.
Whilst it is widely acknowledged in the government, non-profit and commercial sectors, that huge efficiencies can be gained by delivering information and services digitally, there is also plenty of evidence to support the need for support and advice in this area. In many ways, the non-profit sector is seen as lagging behind the business sector when it comes to using technology. However, many small and medium sized businesses face similar difficulties to non-profits in overcoming the challenges of making the most of technology to deliver business goals. And actually, there are many great examples of non-profits excelling at using technology creatively to deliver innovative services, raise funds and create operational efficiencies in a way that many parts of the commercial sector are yet to embrace effectively.
(Véase más abajo para la versión en español.)
One of the critical problems faced by most Latin American cities today is the inability of citizens to access public information. As a result, residents lack knowledge about what is happening in their city in terms of management decisions, allocation of resources, and implementation of policies, to name just a few examples. Information is a prerequisite for citizens to effectively exercise their right to participate in public affairs.
Access to public information is a key priority for each of the organizations that comprise the Latin American Network of Fair, Democratic and Sustainable Cities. Together with
El Agora – a not-for-profit with the mission of strengthening citizenship by democratizing information and participation – the Cities Network decided to develop a joint project with
IBM Argentina which would determine indicators to monitor and improve access to public information in the cities of Buenos Aires, Cordoba, Mendoza, Rosario and San Martin de Los Andes. These results would then be shared with other cities in the region. IBM provided a Centennial Grant of US$100,000 and donated the use of the SmartCloud collaboration platform to connect a variety of organizations in the network. IBM also donated SPSS software to optimize data analysis and generate insightful conclusions.
The majority of India’s population lives on the less privileged side of the digital divide. This situation leads to an interrelated set of problems. On one hand, farmers and villagers lack access to information and information technology (IT) services, and therefore have fewer options for personal and business transactions. Related to this issue, service providers lack both adequate knowledge of rural markets and an efficient distribution network to reach rural populations.
IBM volunteers are working with the Drishtee Foundation to overcome these challenges. Together, they are using 21st century technologies and business expertise to create an efficient distribution system to serve India’s farmers and villagers. In essence, the public-private partnership between IBM and Drishtee is creating “Smarter Villages” by applying
As Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement House approaches its 125th birthday, it continues its mission to act as a catalyst for change. Our goal is to be a change agent by providing opportunities and experience – in addition to services – to individuals and families who have been disproportionately affected by the ongoing economic downturn. Riis Settlement is a true community-based not-for-profit organization, embedded in Western Queens, New York, and working across the generations and cultures that make our community the incredibly vibrant place it is. The majority of our constituents live in the Queensbridge and Ravenswood Houses – home to more than 11,000 low- to moderate-income African-American, Latino, and South Asian residents.
Demographic data for the two developments we serve paint a stark picture:
- The average family income is only $23,761 for a family of four;
- Fourteen percent of families rely on public assistance;
- A staggering 51 percent of families have at least one member who is unemployed;
- Thirty-two percent of families are led by a single parent or caregiver
(female in almost all cases);
- Thirty percent have a family head of household older than 62 years of age;
- The high school graduation rate remains stubbornly low at 25 percent.
Many of these families live on the edges, often earning minimum wage with no paid days off and limited access to child care. Because of these realities, their daily existence is not about self-actualization, but about survival and struggling for items that many of us take for granted – meals, housing, transportation, education, child care, and medical care (for many families, the emergency room is the family doctor).
I must stress, however, that the vast majority of local residents are hard-working, talented individuals who lead lives of dignity and purpose and who care deeply about their families. With that in mind, we focus on the assets of our participants – not on their struggles – as we help them gain access to the same opportunities to which everyone is entitled.
To address some of these issues, Riis provides comprehensive services to three primary target groups and their families: youth, seniors, and immigrants. The range of services we provide includes meals and medical services for seniors, English language classes and case assistance for immigrants, access to technology, homework help, college and career counseling, and recreation for youth.
Our work focuses on outcomes, not numbers served, and we have identified and articulated long-term outcomes for each of the primary groups we serve:
- We want youth to graduate from high school and be prepared for success in college, work and civic life.
- We want seniors to live independently, and age in their community.
- We want immigrants to be successful in education, work and civic life.
To have this type of impact, Riis relies on collaboration with partners such as IBM to achieve life-changing results for our clients. Agencies like ours count on the support of corporations, foundations and individuals because this support is less restrictive, less bureaucratic and less taxing on administrative infrastructure than government funding.
Our partnership with IBM has been meaningful on many levels. Undoubtedly, the most lasting initiative has been the creation of our Catalyst database, a unique system that has been customized to fit our needs, and is aligned to our program model and outcomes. In the past, Riis Settlement relied on 10 separate databases as required by government contracts – and this was just for our youth programs! Many of these databases simply tracked basic demographic data and attendance, and information often was not shareable. With Catalyst, we can better implement our evaluation plan by providing a mechanism to share data, track participants across programs, measure specific outcomes and milestones, and make needed programmatic adjustments. Catalyst provides real-time data and tools, and is the hub of our information-gathering and evaluation protocol.
Catalyst provides additional benefits:
- IBM’s server is hosted on the cloud, so all five of our campuses have the same
level of access;
- Catalyst tracks program participants year-to-year and assesses their
progress over time;
- The database helps us save time and conserve resources;
- Catalyst provides excellent data to help us market the work we do.
The prerequisites for the success of a system like Catalyst are a mature agency culture, sufficient capacity, and proactive leadership. I am delighted to report that, with the help of partners like IBM, we have surpassed those prerequisites.
Given the opportunity, our participants will grow, succeed and move from survival to self-actualization – as many already have. With the help of IBM and the Catalyst database,
Riis Settlement is placing hundreds of individuals each year in a position to reach their greatest potential.
William T. Newlin is Executive Director of the Jacob Riis Neighborhood Settlement House – a member of United Neighborhood Houses of New York, and a community based non-profit organization that offers comprehensive services to the youth, adults, seniors and families of Western Queens, New York.
For many years, doctors and medical volunteers have spent countless hours in Haiti providing health care to those in need. Yet, even with the decades of effort by such committed people, this work has not moved the needle for health care enough.
Haiti is one of the world’s most extreme medical environments. The statistics are staggering: the maternal mortality rate is 1 in 16, and the mortality rates for hypertension and stroke are the highest in North America. Throughout the past decade, as the nation has faced natural and political hardship, it has been clear that the familiar health care models of “hit and run relief” and “drive-by medical tours” do not work in Haiti. The presence of an estimated 4,500 non-governmental organizations and 10,000 charities working in Haiti since the 2010 earthquake underscores the fragmentation, redundancy and waste that are inherent to the current disjointed means of support. There is indeed a simpler, more inclusive and effective way to solve systemic, chronic health problems.
We founded Colleagues In Care to help answer this very call to service and change for the destitute poor in Haiti. As Chief Collaboration and Learning Officer for Colleagues In Care, I have witnessed, first hand, the power that comes from creating a single, vital global health network. Through engaging the best medical minds in the world, while focusing on purpose, participation and performance, we are helping transform the working medical blueprint in Haiti – “CollaborHaitian!” We are changing the rules of the game!
Colleagues In Care needed new cloud-based, crowd-sourcing, social and mobile technologies, and enhanced learning tools to truly make a difference. We needed to develop adaptable “best possible practices” for quality protocols of care and for sustained collaboration and learning on a global scale.
In line with the “CollaborHaitian” initiative and using cloud computing technology from IBM, doctors, nurses, medical personnel and other partners – including IBM employees – are connecting with one another. They are sharing best practices, tools and knowledge. And the emerging insights are being used within the community as a whole, and more importantly, by the vast number of volunteers and practitioners on the ground in Haiti.
Using the IBM SmartCloud, Colleagues In Care is creating a grassroots movement to transform the future of health care for the underserved – anywhere in the world. This Haitian model will be easily replicated and tailored to assess and address the medical issues of any area affected by poverty, limitation and extreme need. The cloud computing technology from IBM has given us a means to recruit, introduce and connect the world’s most renowned specialists with local health professionals. Colleagues In Care forges agreements with leading organizations to gain access to U.S. protocols, standard order sets, and clinical pathways, as well as medical educational content.
This collaboration and conversation not only bridges the gap between local and global expertise, but also inspires the co-creation of a “Best Possible Practices Model” (BPPM). With BPPM, we and our panel of volunteer specialists are able to offer specifically designed care that honors local circumstances and unites evidence- and reality-based medicine. The result is pinpoint focus of resources and care on highly critical illnesses, diseases and medical conditions – helping to reverse the dire health and health care of the underserved inHaiti.
The “power of community” speaks volumes for our organization. We are bringing a world of medical expertise to Haiti, and through these virtual relationships, we address health care issues with an immediacy that is unprecedented. Our tools enable us to offer on-site practitioners an arsenal of resources and support that has never before been available with such efficacy. Practices may be fine-tuned and implemented in the moment of need while insights and solutions may be presented as training tools for others. This model feeds itself, and growth becomes automatic as knowledge is shared freely and new conversations are sparked.
The common passion for service within the diverse network of people – each offering distinct knowledge, experience, perspective and vision – becomes contagious within the system. Colleagues In Care is helping take medical volunteerism to another level: colleague to colleague. We’re helping to transform good intentions and volunteerism into tangible outcomes. We are co-creating social value!
Marie Kenerson is Chief Collaboration and Learning Officer of Colleagues In Care, a global health network of doctors, nurses, medical personnel and other partners working together to provide quality health care services, telemedicine, knowledge and training to aid the poor and help alleviate suffering. Marie has combined organizational learning principles, dialogue skills and collaboration strategies with new IBM cloud and social network technologies to “crowd-source” a network of top medical professionals and volunteers from around the world in order to co-create and deliver localized best-possible medical practices.