Pittsburgh in running to share millions in IBM support
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Turned down on its initial try a year ago, Pittsburgh has made the first cut this year in an international scramble for $50 million worth of technological and management support from IBM.
Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has reapplied to IBM's Smarter Cities Challenge to secure help with the city's transportation planning initiative, MovePGH. He met with IBM representatives Friday to discuss the request.
"We feel we have a good chance of getting it," mayoral spokeswoman Joanna Doven said. "There's a lot of momentum in general in Pittsburgh."
IBM is providing no money to contest participants. Over three years, however, it would provide $50 million in technology and expertise to 100 cities worldwide.
Twenty-four cities -- including Philadelphia and seven others in the United States -- were selected in the inaugural round of winners last year. Philadelphia was awarded about $400,000 of services.
Six IBM staffers spent three weeks in Philadelphia in the fall, then created a plan for infusing technology into literacy and workforce training initiatives. The team left behind 100 computers and literacy software.
IBM's work included data analysis that the city couldn't have performed on its own, said Mary Horstmann, the city's deputy policy director, who called the company's contributions "extremely helpful."
IBM spokesman Ari Fishkind declined to discuss Pittsburgh's application but said in an email, "We'll be announcing more than two dozen 2012 recipients in a few weeks."
Mr. Ravenstahl is seeking help on the transportation front at a time when the city is working on a transportation master plan and anticipating additional cuts in Port Authority bus routes. The MovePGH plan would rank transportation-related capital projects and recommend ways to enhance transportation options, such as the construction of more bicycle lanes.
In its application, the city said IBM could analyze transportation data or work on specific initiatives that grow out of the MovePGH plan. The city said it might seek IBM's help developing a Downtown-Oakland "smart corridor" that would tie together transportation improvements and business growth.
Officials said IBM's previous work on transportation issues here may give the city a competitive advantage. IBM has supported Carnegie Mellon University's Traffic 21 Initiative, which has resulted in projects such as ParkPGH, which provides real-time information on parking space availability in the Cultural District.
First Published February 28, 2012 12:00 am