What IBM's 5 in 5 predictions say about how city life (and city hall) will change

Wed, 2013-12-18 06:02 -- Liz Enbysk

Council Lead Partner IBM has compiled a pretty fascinating look at five innovations it predicts will change our lives in the next five years – from classrooms that learn about each student to doctors that routinely use DNA to develop personalized treatment plans for cancer patients.

But of course the piece we zoomed in on is about how cities will help citizens live in them. IBM suggests insights gleaned from crowdsourcing, mobile applications, sensors and analytics on the cloud will allow cities to better listen, interact and respond to citizen needs. A couple of examples:

  • As smart phones proliferate, mobile apps will become the new norm for reporting and tracking pot holes, broken street lights and inaccessible sidewalks. In Brazil, for instance, IBM researchers are working on a crowdsourcing tool that allows users to report accessibility problems to help people with disabilities better navigate challenges in urban streets.

  • Crowdsourcing and social sentiment analytics will give city leaders massive amounts of feedback on constituent issues that they can act on. By unlocking and analyzing the knowledge data provides, cities can become more flexible and less encumbered by bureaucracy.

Says IBM researcher Sergio Borger:  "In five years, cities will become smarter as machine learning helps them understand what people need, what they like, what they do and how they move from place to place."