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Facts and Figures January 24, 2011

Posted by pollicia in Uncategorized.
A visual representations of younger generations' points of view

Wordle: a visual representations of younger generations' points of view

Many people may not have been familiar with ‘word clouds’ before visiting our IBM stand at the BT Young Scientist: they probably are now. We used an anonymous questionnaire and an application called Wordle to get people thinking about Smarter Cities.

We asked them what could make schools, healthcare, transportation and the environment smarter. We also asked what skills would be needed in the future and what small steps could everyone take, to make our cities smarter. In doing so, we weren’t aiming for the publication of an official report. Our goal was to get a birds’ eye view of what younger generations think, in relation to the challenges our cities are facing.

The results were reassuring. Of all visitors to our stand, over 1,300 took the time to submit their views. Most of these were between 11 and 18 years of age. Here below are the top-rated answers.

Question: How can we make our schools smarter?
Top rated answers: more laptops, followed by e-books and online homework

Question: How can we make our healthcare smarter?
Top rated answers: instant lab analysis, followed by connected medical records and electronic records

Question: How can we make our transportation smarter?
Top rated answers: electric cars, followed by less CO2, parking finders and integrated public transport

Question: How can we make our environment smarter?
Top rated answers: green buildings, followed by water recycling and alternative energies

Question: What skills will be needed, to make our cities smarter?
Top rated answers: research, followed by engineering and I.T.

To the question ‘What could YOU do to make our cities smarter?’, we got a number of inspiring answers. ‘Usual suspects’ like saving energy, recycling, conserving water and reducing carbon emissions showed that younger generations are no strangers to the main challenges regarding energy and resources. Investing in skills was also a recurring thought, with a lot of students committing to study harder, pursue IT or scientific studies, enter next year’s BT Young Scientist, go to college… and even join IBM. Somebody with entrepreneurial spirit suggested they would set up an organisation to help make cities smarter in the future.

But in my view, the most encouraging part was the number of young people willing to ‘talk about it’, ‘put posters up in schools’ and ‘spread the word’. Here’s a generation who’s not only aware of today’s challenges, but also determined to take a stand and resolve them. Our future is in safe hands.



1. bodonovan - January 24, 2011

Yes the Wordle was a great success. It was something that students of all ages could understand. One minor issue I noticed was that some of the students looked up at the Wordle before completing the survey and asked “are those the right answers?” – this might mean that once an answer became popular others chose it simply because they wanted to go along with the crowd,

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