Case Study

Metric-based funding strategy for citywide social programs.

Belfast City Hall

The Challenge

Belfast City Council had recently been given responsibility for disseminating federal funding for social programs across Belfast. In a three-week period of on-site strategy consultation, they requested a new method of funding social and community programs that didn’t rely on existing Protestent-Catholic community divisions.

The Solution

As part of a team of six senior IBMers, I developed a well-being measure that could be used as a common outcome metric for all social and community programs as a way to assess impact with their intended citizens. This metric provided a way to assess program efficacy objectively, simply and flexibly. The metric was the centerpiece of IBM’s city-wide technology solution to collect data and ultimately fund programs based on participant success and positive community impact.

My well-being metric was the centerpiece of IBM’s healthcare technology solution for Belfast City Council.

Melanie Polkosky presenting Belfast City Hall

In the final presentation to over 250 community and political leaders, I told the story of Belfast’s ongoing divisions in a new context: that of Memphis’s troubled history of racial tension and said that a way past the emotion of history to a better society was through objective, comparative data. Today, a version of the metric I proposed has been adopted in Belfast, throughout Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and proposed in the UK.

  1. My blog on Belfast
  2. IBM’s smarter cities website
  3. View the full Smarter Cities Challenge Report


  • “Magic Metric Melanie. Thank you so much for putting your heart and soul into finding a solution for our city and embracing the city and its people with open arms.” Susan Wylie Director, Belfast City Council
  • “You would be really impressed about the conversations that are going on about the ‘Melanie Measures’! Seriously though… you made a big impact and it’s something we can really deliver on.” Claire Shortt Statistician, Belfast City Council

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