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Meanwhile, Gov. Brian Sandoval also stressed statewide collaboration in the wake of the recession, revamping Nevada's entire economic development structure in the process. Landing the Apple data center and earning the federal test site designation for unmanned aerial vehicles, for example, was no mere accident. It was due to the efforts of various entities and groups in the state coming together as one, Sandoval said.

Hearing the merits of collaboration from a company with IBM's clout also encourages more people to get on board, said Thomas Jackman, technical lead of the 's Applied Innovation Center for Advanced Analytics. DRI is one of the 10 entities involved in the Smarter Region project.

In 2010, for example, an analysis commissioned by the Reno Gazette Journal as part of its Reno 2020 project made similar recommendations.

program, five IBM team members spent three weeks in Northern Nevada to do an extensive analysis of the area.

"With every group, you need to find a focus and a common voice," said Kim Robinson, director of the Truckee Meadows Regional Planning Agency. "It's not necessarily a problem, but it's just the way things are when you bring a large group together."Launched in 2010, IBM's $50 million Smarter Cities Challenge aims to help 100 cities come up with creative and innovative solutions to tackle problems at the municipal level.

"It's great when you get people who are completely objective to come into the area and ascertain many of our issues by distilling a lot of data like they did," Jackman said. "It gave us outside validation."

"Reno differentiated itself with its collective approach," Katherine Holland, general manager of IBM's Global Life Sciences Industry, told the Reno Gazette Journal at the time. "I'm glad to see the state getting recognized because it's a gem that's often overlooked. I think Reno Tahoe in particular is an undiscovered treasure."

"Each of the public entities in the area collect a large amount of data every day whether it be business licenses, land use, infrastructure, water use, fiber or power," McKissick said. "Those are all factors in decision making for economic development but we have no way of using that data in a combined fashion."

The timing was perfect given the move for a more collaborative approach in the state.

The problem is that no one usually looks at all that data, Jackman said. Maureen McKissick, strategic development administrator for the city of Reno, agreed.

The , one of the Smarter Region members, already submitted its own data to the group, said Tina Iftiger, vice president of airport economic development.

The select group welcomed Reno in the fall of 2012 after the Biggest Little City successfully applied for a $400,000 grant from the program for its proposal to build a special database for economic development and helping state and local governments make better policy decisions.

With 10 entities now on board including two cities, one county, several education systems and various agencies the program is shifting its focus to using big data to create a smarter region instead.

"It was definitely the intent of our economic development plan . so there was a method and strategy to all of this," Sandoval said. "We still have New Balance Maroon Shoes

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Just figuring out the group dynamics and bringing everyone to the table ate up a lot more time than a single city approach would have, according to those involved in the process.

a long way to go but we are starting to see the rewards (of a more collaborative approach)."

Piecing it together

As part of its application, Reno made clear that it planned to share whatever system it creates out of the program with the rest of the region. The visiting IBM team affirmed the decision in its final report by saying the disconnect among Reno, Sparks, and other entities creates inefficiencies that hamper the region's competitive advantage against other areas.

One year after winning an IBM challenge, however, the proponents behind Reno's successful Smarter Cities proposal are thinking big. A lot bigger.

It started as a pitch for one smarter city.

Creating new data points to fuel New Balance Mens Casual Shoes

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better decisions for the region is one part of the Smarter Region project, McKissick said. Another part, however, is doing an inventory of available data within the various agencies to find out what we already have and how to better use it. If an outside company is interested in information related to a particular area, for example, it would involve going to several agencies.

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The larger scope comes with the benefits of regional cooperation and a grander vision. At the same time, it also comes with its own set of challenges. These include focusing various interests into a unified vision and funding the data warehouse that would serve as the linchpin to the new Smarter Region project's success.

The applications of the data are potentially massive. For quality of life, information can be used to improved emergency response times, traffic flow and delivery of senior services. For economic development, big data can be used to identify industry clusters by area as well as guide workforce training for sectors that the region either excels in or can potentially to develop.

Past winners include Chicago; Philadelphia; St. Louis; Edmonton, Alberta; and Glasgow, Scotland.

At the crux of the Smarter Region project is using a large swath of information known as big data.

IBM Smarter Cities spreads in Northern Nevada

Reno's successful bid was hailed by local officials not just as a boost to Reno's image but a valuable opportunity to modernize the area's data infrastructure. As part of the New Balance Vazee Rush Women's Running Shoes

Although the concept of big data sounds like a modern one, the idea behind it boils down to basic common sense, Jackman said.

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"In a battlefield, it's been said he who has the high ground is the winner," Jackman said. "In a sense, a smart region should have the information high ground. It's essentially tracking the pulse and the signals arriving from our everyday activity and New Balance Instagram using that insight to make intelligent decisions."

IBM recommended that the entities work more closely together and speak in "one strong voice." It also started opening its Smarter Cities Challenge to regional applicants following Reno's selection.

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