A Nairobi Smarter Cities round-table organized under the auspice of the IBM 'Smarter Cities Initiative' explored ways to prepare Nairobi for rapid urban growth, including intelligent transport systems.
Nairobi's population, like many other fast growing cities in the global South, is expected to double within the next decade. This presents challenges in providing basic infrastructure and services. To respond to such challenges, IBM, the global software company, established a 'Smarter Cities Initiative' which has seen over 2,000 projects worldwide providing software solutions and systems for 'smarter' cities in various sectors.
The Nairobi Smarter City Roundtable, organized under the auspices of this initiative, focused on transport, energy and public safety, and was attended by 15 experts from the public and private sectors as well as civil society organizations.
Keynote speaker Dr. Bitange Ndemo, the Permanent Secretary in the Kenyan Ministry of Information and Communication, said that with half of all Kenyans set to reside in cities by 2030, the single biggest challenge will be how to manage and harmonize city systems. "Better functioning cities not only help to increase the standard of living for their citizens, but also increase their global competitiveness and support economic development", Dr. Ndemo emphasized.
UN-HABITAT, represented by Dr. Christian Schlosser, Chief of the agency's Urban Transport Section, discussed more intelligent transport arrangements which are crucial for fostering more livable cities and supporting economic growth.
A recent IBM survey of 20 cities worldwide rated Nairobi among the cities with the worst traffic jams so new IT applications spearheaded by IBM in other cities can benefit Nairobi's urban transport sector in multiple ways, ranging from parking management, and real-time traffic management to providing public transport information, revenue collection and enhanced operational efficiency.
More information on the Smart City Initiative can be found at http://www.thesmartercity.com