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Intelligent Community Forum: Smart21 Communities of 2011

The Intelligent Community Forum's Smart21 Communities awards recognize 21 locales around the globe for their efforts in expanding broadband to better a region's overall economy. In its 2011 ranking, 10 American and Canadian communities were honored. The recognition anticipates the forum's announcement of its Intelligent Community of the Year.


Chattanooga, Tennessee

Chattanooga has turned its economy from an industrial stronghold to an electronically-connected destination. The city-owned electric utility built an extensive fiber network to bring broadband to 170,000 homes and businesses, the city set higher education standards that integrate career training, and local universities established programs tailored to Chattanooga's industries.

Next: Dakota County, Minnesota

Dakota County, Minnesota

When the financial crisis hit Dakota County, it responded by initiating collaborations among government, businesses, and community colleges to encourage the growth of a knowledge-based economy. Today, nearly 100 percent of all businesses and schools have broadband access, and the county's ICT cluster is growing.

Next: Danville, Virginia

Danville, Virginia

Once a top textile and tobacco producer, Danville's unemployment rate reached 15 percent within the past few years. To counter this slide, the city-owned utility launched nDanville, an open-access fiber network that now serves all government and schools, plus 150 businesses.

Next: Dublin, Ohio

Dublin, Ohio

ICF has honored Dublin with Smart21 awards since 2008, and the community continues to hone its ICT-based economy. Through DubLink, a public-private fiber network, most government services are now available online, saving money through automation. Its overall efforts have resulted in an entrepreneurship boom.

Next: Northeast Ohio

Northeast Ohio

The former U.S. industrial heartland, Northeast Ohio's economy has been declining since the 1970s. But OneCommunity, a non-profit, acquired fiber from carriers and developed it into a cooperative, ultra-broadband network that serves government and institutional members throughout the area. It has attracted federal stimulus funds, trained thousands in digital skills, and continues to attract investment.

Next: Quebec City, Canada

Quebec City, Canada

Quebec City initiated its broadband strategy in 1998. This year, a competitive carrier brought broadband to 80 percent of the metro area, and a C$500 million investment will be made in its fiber-to-the-premises networks. Partnerships with schools and businesses continue to expand the network's reach.

Next: Riverside, California

Riverside, California

Although it's home to diverse industries, Riverside has not experienced dependable economic growth. Now it's banking on ICT to bring sustained business developments. Broadband reaches 80 percent of the city, and residents receive free WiFi. Partnering with universities has developed tech parks, incubators, business accelerators, and mentor programs.

Next: Stratford, Canada

Stratford, Canada

Despite its manufacturing roots, Stratford hasn't experienced solid economic growth. But it's focusing on ICT to build business. A city-owned company laid more than 37 miles of optical fiber, which now powers the WiFi network. And the University of Waterloo's Stratford campus gave rise to the Stratford Institute, a think-tank focusing on digital media.

Next: Windsor-Essex, Canada

Windsor-Essex, Canada

Neighbor to Detroit, Windsor-Essex has experienced much of that U.S. city's economic woes. But by working with the Essex County government, Windsor-Essex is developing a diversified, broadband-based economy. WEDnet, a cooperative fiber network, powers government, institutional, and educational facilities across the region. And the city has worked with companies on a software technology alliance to attract entrepreneurs and mentor businesses.

Next: Winnipeg, Canada

Winnipeg, Canada

Located in rural Manitoba, Winnipeg is boosting its broadband connections. High-speed access is available to 85 percent of the city and a Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund is bringing access to another 67 rural towns. Local universities and partnerships have resulted in job-specific diplomas, an incubator, and a research accelerator.

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