IBM plans to change Nairobi to a smarter city

"A city is made of man-made systems" says Tony Mwai, General Manager IBM who describes a city as a system of systems where each of them has its own information needs.

Imagine a city with one control platform that harnesses information from the government services, transportation, energy and utilities, healthcare, public sector and education to make better decisions, anticipate tragedies like the fire that consumed Nairobi's Sinai slums, then resolve them proactively.

According to IBM statistics the population of Nairobi will increase by over 65% come the year 2020. This will put more pressure on the existing infrastructure and without proper planning, Nairobi City residents will loose more than KSh 50 million a day just as a result of time lost in traffic. The solution is to adopt a smart city model, which delivers a city with coordinated systems devoid of short comings like traffic jams that have negative effects in terms of both work productivity and social life.

The smart city platform helps city managers with proper coordination and management of resources for different utilities that exist in a city to operate effectively. For instance coordination of emergency call services with hospitals, security firms and fire department and traffic camera systems in times of disasters. With such a platform, cities will generate more value to its residents in the rapidly changing economic and urban world.

Following a series of floods and mudslides that claimed the lives of 100 people back in April 2010, Rio de Janeiro announced a significant overhaul of its city operations and implemented a smart city platform. The city is currently collaborating with IBM on a plan that will help meteorologists, geological surveyors, field operations and security officers work together to dramatically speed emergency responsiveness.This is a big step in preparing for the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016.

Not only will this system help city agencies "talk" to each other more effectively, but it will also ensure that each department knows what to do with real-time information. IBM has 2000 smart cities projects all over the world which consists of systems, that co-exist and share new technology processes from other areas such as manufacturing, supply and service industries.