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Townsville in North Queensland is evolving into a digital hub after being selected by IBM as one of 24 international cities to receive a Smarter Cities Challenge Grant. The grants provide cities with access to IBM's top experts to analyse and recommend ways to improve the economic and social viability of the city.

Townsville is also one for the first cities in mainland Australia to receive the National Broadband Network.

IBM will invest US$50 million worth of technology and services to 100 municipalities globally over the next three years as part of the initiative. Each city will receive about US$400,000 of expertise and technology from the vendor.

IBM said it selected cities that made the strongest case for participating in the Smarter Cities Challenge. Among the issues it examines are healthcare, education, safety, social services, transportation, communications, sustainability, budget management, energy, and utilities. Other cities selected in the Asia Pacific region include Chengdu, China, Chiang Mai, Thailand, Delhi, India and Jakarta, Indonesia. ®

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