Type 1: Commercial partnership

Sector of the company/organisation


Name of activity/project (or solution offered)

Smarter Cities Challenge

Relevant urban sustainability topic

resource-efficiency (waste, water, materials, circular economy,…)
social economy (unemployment, education, diversity, inclusive economy,…)
sustainability strategy (strategy development at city level, urban planning,…)

Start year


End year


Brief project summary

During three weeks in September, a team of six IBM experts worked to deliver recommendations on a key challenge identified by the political and executive leadership teams of Belfast City Council (BCC) and agreed with a range of stakeholders.

Short activity description

In the second half of the 20th century, Belfast, like many other industrial cities, suffered from a declining industrial core and the flight of wealthier residents, which was exacerbated by sectarian conflict. 'Peace walls' or interfaces were erected throughout the city to prevent further violence, but these seams have led to persistent poverty and inequality in skills and opportunity in the borders between neighborhoods. Belfast Chief Executive Peter McNaney and Lord Mayor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir asked IBM for assistance in coordinating interventions and effectively allocating funds to address deprivation and inequality, including £20m of annual funding dedicated to social services that the City will control in April 2015, which was previously allocated at the central government level. The IBM team's recommendations provided Belfast with a roadmap to identify data sources and define data standards, establish a common framework for evaluating the impact of interventions, and build a model for directing funds to the most effective programs.

What are the main lessons learned during implementation?

Despite historical social events and industry changes, Belfast continues to emanate a culture of pride, hospitality and potential. There is a real determination to create an environment in which all citizens have equal opportunities. The result of BCC’s journey with the Smarter Cities Challenge revealed an urgent need for a solution to improve stakeholder interconnectivity and to enable metric-based collaborative decisions that consider program effectiveness as well as an individual’s sense of empowerment and wellbeing.


Content Relationship Project Manager