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Cardboard bicycles and other smart city ideas roll in from IBM contest

Submitted by douglas cooley on June 6, 2014

Corporate giant IBM has the resources to hire the best and brightest technology minds. Yet, when it comes to smart city ideas, it also wants to hear from everyday folks who simply care about their cities.

And now it has.

The IBM initiative People For Smarter Cities recently announced the winners of a competition designed to tap into grassroots ideas on how to improve cities and make them smarter. The contest solicited ideas via video from the members of Zooppa, the crowd-sourcing site that hosts advertising contests.

“Some of the most creative ideas to make a village, community or city smarter come from residents, people who see an opportunity to make their lives and the lives of their neighbors better,” David Post, executive manager for IBM Global Smarter Cities, writes in a recent blog about the contest.

Citizen engagement can do amazing things

IBM, an SCC Global Partner, reports that around 80 videos were submitted for the competition. The videos chronicled simple and sophisticated smart solutions for water, public safety, healthcare, education and more. The eight chosen prize winners were deemed to have the potential to dramatically impact their city and those living there.

  • First place went to a video depicting how a vacant property in Dublin was repurposed as a community park where various projects and performances take place.
  • Second place was awarded to a video from Detroit showing how the Self Help Addiction Rehabilitation association had repurposed an abandoned facility into a fish farm, restoring a local food system and creating jobs and educational programs in the city.
  • A video showcasing how small-time Israeli inventor built a bicycle out of cardboard (yes, cardboard) took third place. His startup company Cardboard Technologies is now moving forward with manufacturing cardboard bikes that will be durable, sustainable and low cost.

"Citizen engagement can do amazing things for a city and community," writes Post. "Whether in public safety, vacant spaces, sustainability or health, the world is becoming smarter and more efficient thanks to the people who live in it. Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

You can learn more about citizen engagement strategies that can help drive the smart city movement in the Smart Cities Council Readiness Guide (one-time free registration required).