The Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) has named its 2012 Top Seven Intelligent Communities of the Year based on analysis of nominations by a team of independent academic experts. ICF says these communities provide "a model of economic and social development in the 21st century using information and communications technology to power growth, address social challenges and preserve and promote culture."
ICF Co-founder Louis Zacharilla said the winning regions "have demonstrated a profound dedication to the future of their communities. Each [one] has created a uniquely powerful ecosystem on a foundation of information and communications technology. By becoming platforms for innovation, they are creating a better life for citizens on all rungs of the economic ladder and a vibrant future for the next generation."
Here are highlights of the explanations given for choosing these seven cities as the Intelligent Communities of the Year:
- Austin, Texas, USA - "In the late Eighties, 14 semiconductor manufacturers and the U.S. government created a partnership called SEMATCH to solve common manufacturing problems. The selection of Austin as its headquarters sparked a technology boom..... [Then] the dot-com collapse of 2001 tripled the unemployment rate. In response, city government partnered with the Chamber of Commerce on a long-term economic development strategy that led to a nearly $6 billion increase in regional payrolls over five years. A second five-year plan launched in 2010 seeks to add another $11 billion. To address a workforce challenge, Austin has established a program that puts College Enrollment Managers into public schools to guide the choices made by students has helped boost the graduation rate for low-income students 14 percentage points to 75%.
- Oulu, Finland - "Despite the financial crisis [of] 2007, Oulu has managed to create 18,000 jobs in high technology, thanks to risk-taking in education and strong public-private collaboration. The government of Oulu has also created an intensive culture of use for information and communications technologies."
- Quebec City, Quebec, Canada - "Quebec City has long enjoyed the benefits that accrue to a provincial capital that is also the economic and cultural hub of the province. In the midst of recession, its unemployment rate is less than 5%....A decision by local government to interconnect the city's universities and business community transformed a political capital into a technology capital. Quebec Metro High Tech Park is now home to nearly 100 companies employing 5,000 people, and the Park's management team continues to advise and steer promising applications from universities into commercial development."
- Riverside, California, USA - "Riverside is a bedroom community and university town...[and today] the city is building a tech-based economy that seizes the opportunities of the broadband revolution....The community has partnered with its universities to develop tech parks, incubators, business accelerators and mentoring programs. Carriers have deployed fiber and wireless networks reaching 80% of the city. A $1.6 billion revitalization program begun in 2006 is improving traffic flow, replacing aging water, sewer and electric infrastructure, and improving police, fire, parks and libraries."
- Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada - "A shipbuilding contract... came to an end and a major food manufacturer closed its plant in the same year. A long period of industrial decline had suddenly reached crisis point. But while it had Canada's largest per capita decline in manufacturing from 1989 to 2003, Saint John also saw 8% growth in services, double the Canadian average. To accelerate that positive trend, the city created a partnership with education, health care, provincial government, cultural institutions and business. It targeted ICT, life sciences, tourism, energy and advanced manufacturing for growth. In a strategy called True Growth, the city engaged with local employers and educators to identify and recruit skilled young people emerging from secondary school and university...."
- Stratford, Ontario, Canada - "Since its founding as a mill town in the 1800s, Stratford has been a crossroads where agriculture, industry and culture meet.....[It has] had to take major steps to create a 21st century economy. A city-owned company has laid 60 km of optical fiber and used it as the backbone of a public WiFi network. The University of Waterloo's [Stratford campus is home to] the Stratford Institute, a think tank focusing on digital media. Broadband and IT have also addressed the challenges of rural healthcare. Eighty percent of Stratford's family physicians are on a broadband e-health portal for health records, administration and after-hours care, which has helped ease the region's shortage of family practitioners."
- Taichung City, Taiwan - "[In] 2010, the county and city of Taichung were merged, [and that] created an opportunity to make Taichung's companies, government, transportation systems, and business parks work more efficiently together, [and work] to reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by millions of tons. The city has....invested...with Taiwan's telecommunications carriers; as a result, Taichung now has 80% coverage for both WiMAX wireless and fiber broadband, with 100% expected within 5 years....Taichung's Industrial Technology Research Institute has introduced 47 precision manufacturers to a shared, cloud-based Engineering Data Bank that reduces purchasing costs and time-to-market. It is the first of a series of...joint projects to harness ICT for industrial applications, safety, healthcare, energy savings and lifestyle."
ICF exists to share best practices of the world's Intelligent Communities in adapting to the demands of the Broadband Economy by conducting research, hosting events, publishing newsletters, and producing an international awards program.