IBM Web Series Spotlights City-Changing Ideas

IBM Web Series Spotlights City-Changing Ideas
Arts & Culture

Part of a larger campaign for better city management, the short films feature innovative projects from determined city-dwellers

Janet Burns
  • 18 december 2014

In May, IBM announced the development of Smarter Cities management centers in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Montpellier, France, a project aimed to help the cities better manage their resources by keeping them informed about their own workings. With its latest campaign in this area, the tech company now invites individuals and companies who share IBM’s mission of civic improvement to submit their ideas, and perhaps even share them with the world in a new documentary video series.


Announced this month, IBM is adding to its people4smartercities campaign with a series of “In the city with” short films. Available online, the films check in with urban dwellers who are working to improve their home cities as well as metropolises everywhere, and with a focus on input from city residents.


For the series, IBM joined forces with communication firm Ogilvy & Mather Paris, — a site for telling stories of social change — and filmmakers Tomas Leach, Adam Rothlein, and Jake Kornbluth. Each installment in the new series will feature “a city- changing idea [… from] urban planning to haute cuisine, architecture to government, science, civic engagement, design, and urban farming.” Jacelyn Swenson, Global Brand System Manager for IBM, noted in a press release:

We are sharing the vision of these city change makers so we can inspire people to visit and engage in discussions that can spark more smart ideas for cities.

A recent “In the city with” video, for example, offered a spotlight on Dan Parham of Neighborland, a platform which seeks to “[empower] organizations to collaborate with residents on local issues” via real-world and online communication tools. As Parham explained in the team’s video, they began experimenting with the idea in 2012, and have since helped companies and their neighbors “use it as a collaborative publishing platform,” and as a supplementary tool to the areas of voting and activism. Earlier this year, the platform helped draw ideas for San Francisco’s Market Street Prototyping Festival, which produced a number of new designs and concepts for enhancing San Franciscans’ experience on the city’s central drag.


The main goal of people4smartercities, reps explained, is to broaden awareness of cities’ needs — among governing bodies, building developers, and more — so as to help urban planners construct happier, healthier cities. With the aid of the IBM-developed centers, which provide data on transportation, water, emergency management, both Montpelier and Minneapolis have been working with IBM to draw insight from its city data in order to “make better decisions and allocate resources to sense and respond to challenges in city infrastructure.” Michael Dixon, general manager for Smarter Cities, explained,

Cities need a foundation for modernizing their systems and the basis of their technology should be flexible, open and easy to use. City leaders and citizens will all benefit from this integrated approach, predictive analytics and resulting outcomes that will allow cities to begin to transform in ways that just a decade ago were unimaginable.

IBM and partners invite everyone to chime in with their suggestions and city-changing projects via people4smartercities’ website,, and @p4scities.

IBM, Neighborland

+future of cities
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