Bellone Announces: Suffolk County Chosen as IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge Winner for Water Quality Initiative

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Suffolk County one of only four municipalities chosen in the United States to receive $500,000 in-kind consultation services.
Bellone Announces: Suffolk County Chosen as IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge Winner for Water Quality Initiative
March 25, 2014 - Hauppauge, NY - IBM (NYSE: IBM) today named Suffolk County, NY as an IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grant recipient for County Executive Bellone’s water quality initiative.

Smarter Cities Challenge is a competitive grant program that sends teams of some of IBM's most talented experts to select cities and regions worldwide to provide pro bono consulting expertise on the most critical issues faced by communities today. This year, the company will be helping Suffolk County and at least 16 cities and regions around the world this year address issues ranging from clean water, healthy food, and revenue generation, to job development, efficient transportation, and public safety.

“I am pleased that Suffolk County’s Water Quality Initiative was selected as a Smarter Cities Challenge Winner,” stated County Executive Steve Bellone. “Water is at the heart of everything on Long Island. It is critical to our health and our quality of life. There is no greater challenge to our future than the water quality crisis that we must now begin to confront. Nitrogen poisoning of our surface and ground waters is the greatest crisis this County has faced in a generation. IBM representatives, with their particular expertise, will provide technical assistance and IBM analytics can guide decision-making and detail the economic case for action.

“I would like to thank Senator Gillibrand for her support of Suffolk County’s grant and her willingness to highlight opportunities which will advance Suffolk County’s water quality initiative. I also thank those organizations and individuals who supported our application submission: David Calone, Chairman-Suffolk County Planning Commission, Kevin McDonald, Nature Conservancy, Mitch Pally, President-Long Island Builders Institute and Peter Scully, Regional Director-New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.”

“Water quality is a priority of every man, woman and child,” said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who pushed for Suffolk County’s application. “We must ensure that drinking water is protected, wastewater infrastructure is efficient and our waterways stay clean. Suffolk County faces many challenges with its water – from protecting the underground aquifers, to updating infrastructure and increasing sewered areas to making sure its estuaries and bays are clean and safe. This IBM grant will bring additional resources to the table to help Suffolk County meet its challenges head-on and strengthen the local economy. I look forward to partnering with them in making improvements to these systems.”

For these consultative engagements, IBM teams invest months studying a local issue chosen by a winning municipality. They then spend three weeks on the ground in the region gathering and analyzing all relevant data, while meeting in person with dozens of members of the government, citizen, business, and not-for-profit communities. In doing so, they gather diverse perspectives about the causes and potential solutions to the challenge at hand. At the conclusion of these studies, IBM presents comprehensive recommendations for solving the problem, followed weeks later by a more detailed, written plan for its implementation.

“Through the Smarter Cities program, IBM has used their private sector know-how to help dozens of other cities across our country and around the world to tackle complex challenges,” said Dave Calone, Chair-Suffolk County Planning Commission. “We very much look forward to them applying their expertise to help Suffolk County determine how to prioritize and finance the wastewater solutions we need to address our water quality crisis.”

Smarter Cities Challenge was originally conceived in 2011 as a three-year grant program, but highly positive feedback and effective results have encouraged IBM to extend the initiative. In its first three years, IBM's Smarter Cities Challenge deployed 600 experts on six-person teams who provided strategic and practical advice to 100 municipalities. These highly prized three-week engagements, each valued at USD $500,000, have helped cities address key challenges in a variety of spheres.

Following are cities and regions that IBM is today announcing as winners of the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grants for 2014:
-Abuja, Nigeria
-Ballarat, Australia
-Baton Rouge, United States
-Birmingham, United States
-Brussels, Belgium
-Dallas, United States
-Dublin, Ireland
-Durban, South Africa
-Jinan, China
-Mombasa County, Kenya
-Niigata, Japan
-Perth, Australia
-Suffolk County, United States
-Tainan, Taiwan
-Vilnius, Lithuania
-Zapopan, Mexico

Smarter Cities Challenge is an elite program, having picked only 116 cities out 500 applicants over the last three years. Strong applications propose projects designed to address high priority problems of critical importance to citizens. The city or region must be able to share detailed information to help the IBM team analyze the issue. Leaders must also guarantee face-to-face access to city, regional, civic and business stakeholders for interviews with IBM team members so that they may comprehensively assess a given problem and recommend solutions.

IBM dispatches IBMers on these engagements who hail from all over the world, and who offer diverse perspectives and skills in the areas of marketing, communications, technology, research and development, government, human resources, finance, business, legal matters and specific disciplines such as transportation, energy and health.

Jennifer Crozier, IBM’s vice president of Global Citizenship Initiatives, and whose team directs the Smarter Cities Challenge, said, “Congratulations to Suffolk County, NY for securing an IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grant for 2014. You can look forward to tapping a treasure trove of skills and knowledge from some of IBM's best and brightest. We hope to be a useful resource here and be a catalyst for progress."

A video summarizing the first three years of IBM Smarter Cities Challenge can be viewed here and more background about the program and its many successes can be found here.