Posted by: Providence Chamber of Commerce | August 19, 2011

IBM Smarter Cities Recommendations Unveiled

                                                                                                                                                     Today, GPCC attended the final presentation by the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge expert consultant team, focusing on improvements to land-use management, planning and permitting processes within the City of Providence. Rhode Island’s Capital City was among 24 cities worldwide that IBM selected in its first Smarter Cities Challenge, a competitive grant that the company will be awarding to 100 municipalities globally over the next three years. Members of IBM’s elite Executive Service Corps have been in Providence for three weeks working with City officials and community stakeholders to analyze and recommend ways that the City can streamline delivery of municipal services.

The IBM team presented a number of recommendations surrounding land use management and processes for Providence to consider. Some of the recommendations included: co-locating offices and personnel to streamline the permitting process; creating a triage and tracking system for  permit applications; provide a kiosk that will scan plans for the public and small businesses that may not have access to that type of equipment; develop an Information Technology strategic plan for city government; establish an electronic land use plan system; develop a set of performance indicators and review those regularly to determine progress; and then post those indicators on-line.

The IBM team noted that promising change is already underway in Providence. Half of the proposed recommendations are near-term strategies that will take little or no cost to implement. A full report from the IBM team will be presented to the City in a few weeks.

Mayor Tavares thanked the IBM team, City Planning Director Thom Deller, his colleagues at City Hall and the focus group volunteers for providing the input and expertise necessary for this in-depth report. The Mayor also mentioned that this is an extraordinary opportunity to focus on land-use processes, using the Knowledge District as a template.  He also noted that collaboration is the key to maximizing the potential of this grant.

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