Mpls., IBM Invest $1.65M to Improve Tech Services

IBM will invest $1.5 million in researchers' time that will be spent on exploring ways in which the city can improve services and cut costs; Minneapolis will contribute $150,000 to cover project management and IT costs.

The City of Minneapolis is partnering with IBM on a $1.65 million project to identify ways that the city can leverage its technology and software to improve services and reduce costs.

Under the partnership, IBM will invest $1.5 million in researchers' time over the next 18 months to analyze the city's current technology tools and develop a product or system change that will help in everything from day-to-day operations-including garbage pickup and traffic control-to unpredicted events like a bridge collapse or homeland security issues.

The City of Minneapolis will contribute $150,000 to cover project management and IT costs. The allocation of that money and the project itself were approved by the city council in April.

“Like most cities these days, the City of Minneapolis is being asked to do more with fewer resources,” City Coordinator Steven Bosacker said in a statement. “This project will not only help us find innovative ways to do more with less; it will ultimately improve how we operate in some very important areas while saving the city money.”

The city has identified seven areas that will be explored for opportunities, including traffic management and monitoring, efficiency in vehicle routing, parking security, the management of planned and unplanned gatherings and events, safety monitoring and management, and crime prevention.

Although the city will not determine any specific initiatives to pursue until the researchers have completed their analysis, one technology solution that the city may undertake is developing smartphone applications that will let residents interact with city departments.

Those applications could be used to help field the 1,800 to 2,000 calls that the city receives every day from citizens reporting issues like burned-out streetlights, potholes, malfunctioning traffic signals, and garbage issues.

The partnership is part of IBM's Smarter City initiative-which it's calling “first of a kind.” It brings together IBM researchers and clients to test new technologies for business and develop software solutions to improve the way business works.

Since the initiative was launched in October 2009, Armonk, New York-based IBM has worked with more than 2,000 cities worldwide to help improve efficiency in areas including public safety, water management, education, transportation, water.