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IBM Smarter Cities Team completes work in Rochester

The IBM Smarter Cities Team has finished its work in Rochester and is leaving city officials with recommendations for reducing poverty, Mayor Lovely Warren said Thursday.

In May, Rochester was one of 16 areas worldwide chosen for the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge. As a result, the city received $500,000 in pro bono services over the past three weeks.
 
For the past three weeks, a team of IBM’s problem-solvers has been embedded in Rochester, studying and evaluating the city’s poverty crisis, city officials said. The team is providing the city with recommendations to fix systems already in place to combat poverty. The team found the systems are not working effectively and impeding the mission of the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative.

The IBM team identified more than 17 key findings that were consolidated into four major categories:

  • Misalignment of agency services;
  • Reactive with no focus on proactive and preventative actions; program-focused delivery and measurement systems;
  • Unrealized potential within the community; and
  • Inconsistent approach to data.

"I’d like to thank the IBM Smarter Cities Team for selecting Rochester for this project and for their hard work on this important issue," Warren said in a statement. "They have provided us with a roadmap that promotes collaboration within our community. The recommendations provided will be useful to our mission to create more jobs, safer neighborhoods and better schools."

The team is proposing a holistic approach, recognizing that poverty is a complex ecosystem and multiple, concurrent interventions are required for individuals to achieve self-sufficiency, officials said. The team is slated to issue its detailed report in the coming weeks.

"It was an honor to host my colleagues that were here to work and live in Rochester this month," said Martin Laird, IBM senior program manager, who grew up in Monroe County. "We were inspired by the passion and broad reaching efforts of so many people determined to make this an even more vibrant and prosperous place to live and work. The recommendations our team has shaped aim to build on that commitment with a framework to advance the city’s goals."

Leonard Brock, director of the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative at United Way of Greater Rochester Inc., said the initiative has worked with the city and the IBM team over the past month to help build a coordinated system of social supports.

"The IBM team has been first rate and their recommendations get to the heart of our challenges, and our opportunities to address the poverty epidemic in our community. Our work is just beginning, and thanks to the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge we have a great start down the path toward a community solution to poverty," he said.

Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks thanked Laird and the IBM team, as well as Warren for bringing the team to Rochester.

“Despite our collective best efforts, we are not moving the needle on poverty and we need new and innovative solutions to lift up struggling families,” Brooks said.

(c) 2015 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.

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