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IBM to deliver land management recommendations

As one of 24 winners of IBM's Smarter Cities Challenge, Providence received a grant — in the form of the services a team of IBM experts valued at up to $400,000 — to redevelop the city's land-use management system in March. As the deadline for IBM's report to the mayor nears, the consultants are wrapping up their final recommendations.

Included in preliminary recommendations is the suggestion to automate and centralize the data sets the city uses to track land use, according to Cathleen Finn, corporate citzenship and corporate affairs manager for IBM. Currently, information about a single property may be spread across the systems of several departments.

"Right now, it's very difficult for a prospective developer coming into the city," she said.

The team spent two weeks in August conducting interviews and analyzing data about challenges facing the city before developing "recommendations that would be actionable for the city," Finn said. IBM will deliver a final report to the city by the end of September.

"We've heard of people in the city very eager for a final copy of the report so they can get to work and start implementing," Finn said.

"The preliminary ideas were well received by the mayor and his team," said David Ortiz, spokesman for Mayor Angel Taveras. "It seemed like a really functional approach to helping the city become more efficient and responsive."

"It was obvious that their time in Providence had enabled them to gain a lot of insight into the workings of city government and the challenges we face, and we look forward to the full report," he added.

When the city submitted its application for the grant last winter, IBM thought the proposal showed "a good mix of both challenge and opportunity," Finn said. The application indicated more than 40 interested stakeholders — including institutions of higher education, medical organizations, nonprofits and businesses, as well as city and state officials — that "represented the vibrancy of Providence," she said. "In this sense, Providence was ahead of many of the other cities who submitted applications."

The "level of partnership" abundant in Providence made it clear that "work was already underway," Finn said. "It was our hope that our efforts would really accelerate the progress."


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