St. Louis, Missouri's 2011 IBM Smarter Cities Challenge Grant was focused on the problem of crime and public safety, a problem that has marred the city's image and hampered economic development. Mayor Francis G. Slay sought recommendations on ensuring that information on crime would get to the right people across the entire public safety ecosystem, including the mayor's office, police department, circuit attorney, circuit courts and parole and probations.
IBM's team found that individual agencies had separate, siloed systems for tracking offenders. To create a unified view, the Challenge Grant team recommended creating a common language and data model for sharing information across agencies. IBM also offered a number of recommendations about improving accountability and using data to spot crime trends, target police patrols and measure performance improvements. Yet no amount of technology or data analysis could overcome a gap in the chain of command in St. Louis whereby the city's police department was not accountable to the mayor.
"Our recommendations highlighted this issue, and they've just changed the regulatory structure in St. Louis so that the mayor does now have control over the police department," said Stanley Litow, IBM's VP of corporate citizenship & corporate affairs, in an interview with InformationWeek. "People had been talking about the issue for years, but being able to say, 'a team of outside experts identified this as a core problem,' may have been part of the impetus for getting the problem solved."