Students Worldwide to Collaborate on Projects to Improve Cities, Transportation and Health Care

University students around the world are working on new projects, including developing smarter urban and transportation solutions and improved health care systems, with help from IBM. Fifty professors from 40 universities in 14 countries have been awarded a Smarter Planet Faculty Innovation grant from IBM.  

As population rates rise, civic leaders face an unprecedented series of challenges, including massive urbanization, stressed infrastructure and economic crisis. The project from Pace University, for example, “Across Cities for Cities,” involves teams of students in New York working with students from Phnom Penh, Cambodia; Delhi, India; and Dakar, Senegal, developing mobile and smartphone applications for transportation, health care and education, with the solutions being implemented in each city for evaluation and improvement. These solutions will tackle problems such as identifying the closest public transportation to a specific destination or finding the nearest emergency room.

IBM created and awarded the $10,000 grants to help universities develop innovative new curricula that address the global challenges of transportation, health care, water, energy and other systems. The new courses will prepare students for future leadership in a variety of industries by exposing them to Watson-like technologies in the classroom, sparking collaboration and innovation.

“We need to focus on developing more advanced skills so that students around the world are equipped to tackle real-world issues when they enter the workforce,” said Jim Corgel, general manager of IBM Academic and Developer Relations. “The work of these 50 award recipients should help change the face of education by enabling students to work on pressing issues facing cities today — and at the same time prepare them for leadership in industries like healthcare and transportation.”

Each year American drivers waste an estimated 3.7 billion hours, the equivalent of five days each, sitting in traffic burning 2.3 billion gallons of fuel. Students at the University at Buffalo are analyzing U.S. border control data to learn how advanced technology solutions may help improve the sustainability of the transportation system. The project focuses on local highway traffic and reducing congestion around the three U.S. and Canadian border crossings in the region.

City infrastructures that deliver vital services can now rely on a wealth of new information and technologies enabling them to sense and respond intelligently to the needs of their growing populations. RMIT University in Australia is helping students explore how advanced technology and sensors can play a role in building a smarter, interconnected city. Working together with students in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, students are using local real-world examples to evaluate new urban planning and development options for vital city services such as transportation, healthcare and energy.

These new classes are being taught in the 2011-12 school year.  Find out more about the award winners at

The fall 2011 Smarter Planet Faculty Innovation awards are now open for submissions of proposed curricula to support Smarter Commerce, Smarter Communications and Smarter Energy. More information on the Smarter Planet Faculty Innovation awards is available at  

Videos of select award winners are available at