UAB helping Birmingham to meet Smarter Cities Challenge

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university boulevard 2007 1Birmingham, with help from UAB, is one of 16 cities chosen this year to receive an IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grant, which contributes the skills and expertise of IBM’s top talent to help cities address critical issues.

“In Birmingham, the IBM team will work closely with city leaders and the UAB Sustainable Smarter Cities Research Center to develop strategies to reverse problems with abandoned or deteriorating properties and food deserts,” said Fouad Fouad, Ph.D., director of the SSCRC and chair of the UAB Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering. “By focusing on those two areas, we can lay the groundwork for change that will help stabilize neighborhoods and lead to sustainable, healthy growth for decades to come.”

And a more livable, sustainable Birmingham could have far-reaching implications.

“A city striving for higher-quality living conditions that are affordable across a wide range of incomes will create business and job opportunities for a diverse, balanced community,” said Iwan Alexander, Ph.D., dean of the School of Engineering. “That is a healthy environment for long-term growth. But how do you keep it that way? Balancing resource-consumption with our ability to create or supply those resources necessary to build and sustain a healthy city. You have to satisfy the needs of the present without sacrificing the future health of the community.”

The UAB SSRC and City of Birmingham signed a memorandum of understanding in February 2013 to partner on projects that would help make the city more livable, and in October they submitted the application for the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge.

Birmingham is one of four cities in the United States to receive the IBM grant for 2014, joining Dallas, Texas; Baton Rouge, La.; and Suffolk County, N.Y. One hundred cities have received assistance during the past three years.