Townsville has been selected as one of 24 cities worldwide to receive a grant from IBM worth around US$400,000 to help implement technologies to make its city smarter.
The other cities were from the US, Chile, Romania, Thailand, India, Canada, the Netherlands, France, Brazil, Japan and South Africa. IBM intends to spend US$50 million on 100 cities over three years.
"We selected these cities because of their commitment to the use of data to make better decisions, and for their desire to explore and act on smarter solutions to the their most pressing concerns," Stanley S. Litow, IBM vice president of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs and president of IBM's Foundation, said in a statement.
"The cities we picked are eager to implement programs that tangibly improve the quality of life in their areas, and to create roadmaps for other cities to follow. The stakes have never been greater but we're excited at the prospect of helping cities tackle the most pressing challenges of our time."
The cities wanted to use technology to collect data — for example, on school test results, crime and traffic — to analyse so that they can introduce initiatives to improve the quality of life in their locality. IBM will provide city heads with experts to help analyse their needs, take pointers from other cities across the globe and create strategies to make their city healthier, safer, smarter and more prosperous.
During the challenge, the cities will use a free website called City Forward — which keeps track of statistics on the performance of services such as education, safety, health, transportation, utilities and energy — to benchmark their performance against other cities.
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy welcomed the announcement.
"I congratulate Townsville on receiving this grant and I also wish to thank IBM for this important corporate citizenship initiative, which will support growth, better delivery of municipal services and increased citizen engagement," he said in a statement.
"Smart cities are an important part of Australia's digital economy," he continued. "Intelligent technology can make communities better places to live by making more efficient use of infrastructure, transport, water and energy, and reducing environmental impacts."