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Application instructions
Please note that submission of an SCC application will require both a filled PDF form and a letter signed by the mayor or equivalent top executive of the municipality.

신청 지침:
PDF 양식을 채우고 해당 기관을 대표하는 시장 또는 동급 최고 책임자가 서명한 편지를 동봉하여 스마터 시티 챌린지 신청서를 제출해야 합니다.

请注意申请加入智慧城市大挑战项目,需要一份填写好的 PDF 表单以及一份由市长或同等级别的行政长官签署的信函。

Smarter Cities Challenge の申請書の提出には、記入済みの PDF フォームと市長または自治体の同等の責任者が署名した書簡の両方が必要であることにご留意ください。

Instructions pour la candidature:
Veuillez noter que l'envoi d'une candidature au SCC doit s'accompagner d'un formulaire PDF rempli ainsi qu'un courrier signé du Maire ou d'un haut responsable de rang équivalent au niveau de la municipalité.

Instrucciones de envío de la solicitud:
Tenga en cuenta que la presentación de una solicitud para SCC requerirá tanto un formulario PDF completo como una carta firmada por el alcalde o la autoridad principal equivalente del gobierno municipal.

All input fields are required unless noted. If you close your browser without submitting, your work will not be saved. Please review the entire form before beginning. If you already filled out a PDF application, use the Upload a Completed PDF button to the right.


The Smarter Cities Challenge contributes the skills and expertise of teams of top-talent IBMers to address the key challenges facing cities around the world. Over the past 4 years, 115 cities have been selected to receive grants, each valued at $500,000. Winning cities have used the recommendations prepared by Smarter Cities Challenge teams to make substantive progress on a diverse array of urban issues. The Smarter Cities Challenge is IBM’s largest philanthropic initiative, with contributions to date valued at over $50 million.

Cities apply to the Smarter Cities Challenge by identifying a top strategic challenge that they propose to advance with IBM’s support. Winning cities receive a team of 5-6 IBM experts that deploys to the winning city to work closely with the city leadership for a 3-week period on their proposed challenge. During the project, the IBM team gathers and analyzes all available data, meets with dozens of stakeholders in government, business, not-for-profits and other organizations to gather diverse perspectives about root causes and potential solutions to the challenge at hand, and assesses examples of success implemented by other cities that might be valuable to review. At the end of the engagement, the IBM team delivers strategic recommendations and an implementation plan in a presentation and a written report that draw upon the technical experience and strategic insight of the IBM team, city staff and community members.

Upon the completion of the grant, executive summaries of each project are posted on the Smarter Cities Challenge website (, alongside relevant video, press coverage and full reports to share experiences and build capacity.

The Smarter Cities Challenge has worked with a diverse portfolio of cities around the world, ranging from regional hubs to global leaders including Nairobi, Chicago, Helsinki, Rio de Janeiro, and Singapore. Each grant is tailored to the unique opportunities and challenges of the recipient city, and IBM teams have addressed a wide range of topics. Information on past grants, including samples of successful applications, can be found at

Past winners have implemented their Smarter Cities Challenge recommendations to tangibly improve the lives of their citizens, including the following in the past year:
  • Glasgow, United Kingdom announced a new one million pound fuel subsidy to provide affordable warmth to low-income elderly citizens. The city also won a $40 million grant from the Technology Strategy Board.
  • Jacksonville, Florida unveiled JaxScore, a public-facing dashboard that provides information on the city’s performance and progress on its top economic development priorities including building permits issued, jobs created, veterans served, and more.
  • Johannesburg, South Africa has implemented a comprehensive technology solution to address crime, public safety and emergency management.
  • Nanjing, China implemented a multi- platform social media strategy that engaged over 2 million people for the 2014 Youth Olympic Games.
  • Porto Alegre, Brazil created Digital PoA, a program supporting the city’s new policy of open data and which facilitates two-way dialogue among citizens, city officials, collectives and local organizations.
  • Syracuse, New York announced that the first year of its land bank program, which used IBM insights to identify homes to revitalize, had secured a 69% increase in collection of delinquent property taxes and fees compared to the previous year.
  • Townsville, Australia earned the prestigious National Smart Infrastructure Award for the IBM / Townsville Smart Water Pilot currently underway to reduce water consumption.

For the 2015 cycle, the Smarter Cities Challenge is open to local and regional general-purpose governing bodies, including cities, counties, prefectures, boroughs, and districts. Special districts, such as port authorities, school districts or utility districts, are not eligible for the program at this time.

For the first time in 2015, cities that have previously received a Smarter Cities Challenge grant are eligible to apply for a second grant. The city must demonstrate substantive progress on the topic of their first grant. The new application may propose to build on the accomplishments resulting from the first grant, or address another topic.

2015 Selection Process

The Smarter Cities Challenge 2015 application cycle will open on January 12 and close on February 6, 2015. The application consists of essay questions and a brief letter signed by the mayor or equivalent executive officer of the municipal government certifying the submission and designating the project as a high priority. Both components should be submitted through the Smarter Cities Challenge website.

Applications will be accepted in the following languages: English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.

As part of the application review process, IBM Citizenship staff may contact the person listed on the application for additional information. Finalist cities will be invited to participate in an in-person interview with the mayor or equivalent executive officer and IBM Citizenship leaders. All cities will be notified about the status of their application by email in May 2015. Grants awarded at that time will be deployed over the following 12 months, from June 2015 to May 2016.

Example Applications:
2012 Application Louisville, Kentucky
2013 Application Burlington, Vermont
2013 Application Porto Alegre, Brazil

Selection Criteria

Quality of Challenge Topic
  • Outline a critical strategic challenge to be explored rather than a known solution to be implemented
  • Explain how successfully addressing the topic would tangibly improve the lives of citizens
  • Show that the city and its leadership has direct oversight over the proposed topic area
  • Emphasize efforts to address cross-system or cross-sector challenges
City commitment and capacity
  • Demonstrate strong, dynamic leadership with clear track records of innovation and accomplishment
  • Affirm that the city leader will be personally accessible for meetings with the team at the kick-off, at mid-point, and at the close of the project
  • Demonstrate the support of other governmental and civic leaders who have oversight over other relevant parts of the system. While applications must be submitted by a local or regional government entity, partnerships with key stakeholders in the government, private, academic, and nonprofit (voluntary) sectors are encouraged.
  • Outline plans for providing access to all relevant data
  • Identify a project manager from senior staff who would provide access to key stakeholders during an SCC engagement
  • Make a physical space close to key city leaders available as a workspace for the team
  • Lay out a robust plan for implementing the recommendations delivered by the SCC team. Applications that propose to leverage additional resources to address the application topic are encouraged. Examples: federal or state/provincial funding secured; municipality has earmarked funding for implementing SCC recommendations; funding and/or technical assistance secured from private funders such as foundations.
  • Commit to reporting progress and impact to IBM on a quarterly basis for 12 months following grant implementation
If questions arise about the program or application process, please reach out to the IBM Citizenship Manager for your geography, or contact the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge team at

A. What challenge facing the city or region do you propose addressing with a Smarter Cities Challenge grant? Please provide a brief summary of the context surrounding the proposed topic area, including past efforts and current initiatives. If desired, include links to relevant articles, papers or blogs covering the topic to provide our review team with additional background material. Previous Smarter Cities Challenge winners only: does the proposed topic relate to the topic of the city’s first Smarter Cities Challenge grant? If so, how does it build on that work?
B. Which key stakeholders are invested in the proposed topic area, both inside and outside of government? Please describe their current roles and involvement in the topic area.
C. Which senior staff member would serve as the project's sponsor, and potentially lead the implementation of recommendations?
D. Which areas are connected to the proposed topic? (check all that apply)
E. What systemic factors prevent the city and community from addressing this issue without a Smarter Cities Challenge grant (for example: insufficient budget, organizational culture, regulation, legislation, etc.)?
A. What would be successful short and long-term outcomes of a Smarter Cities Challenge engagement for the city?
B. After the engagement, what specific actions would be taken to implement recommendations? What efforts would be taken to share best practices with other cities and regions?
A. Please describe the city’s accomplishments in encouraging innovation and driving change, that demonstrate the city’s and city leader’s capacity for acting on recommendations delivered by an SCC grant. Previous Smarter Cities Challenge winners: please describe the progress the city has made on the topic of the city’s first Smarter Cities Challenge grant, including implementation of Smarter Cities Challenge recommendations and related efforts.
While completing this section is encouraged, applicants are not required to fill out all of the questions in this section of the form to receive a Smarter Cities Challenge grant.
A. What role can open data and citizen engagement play in addressing the proposed topic area?
B. What data relevant to the topic area would be available to a Smarter Cities Challenge team for analysis? What data relevant to the topic area is not available?
Please attach a letter, signed by the mayor or equivalent top executive of the municipality certifying the city's submission to the Smarter Cities Challenge. Multiple files may be added.
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