Smart business executives looking for new company locations need look no further than the towns and cities that have earned a designation by the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF). Earning “Intelligent Community” status from ICF indicates these municipalities not only possess the right technologies and related infrastructure, but also have gone one step further to have the holistic advantages necessary to create Intelligent Communities. These are places with exceptional talent and skilled workers that have differentiated themselves with a culture that uses smart technologies in creative and innovative ways — a key competitive advantage.
They are also very successful in attracting investment and are excellent promoters, able to gain global recognition through earned media. Furthermore, these Intelligent Communities share these benefits with all of their citizens, hence evolving a depth of community culture and capacity around the use of smart technologies that further add to their exceptional credentials. These communities also advocate intelligent government policies; share leadership qualities among the public, private, and institutional sectors where collaboration among them is a recognized trait; and seek sustainable solutions, further differentiating themselves from their competition. They not only possess the intelligent infrastructure — it becomes part of the culture of the communities through everyday use.
For instance, Chattanooga, Tennessee, designated by ICF in 2011 as an Intelligent Community, was the first U.S. city to install affordable gigabit-per-second connectivity to its schools, homes, and businesses. But not stopping there, the community sought to attract and retain its brightest talent; supported its new startups; created a quality of life, promoting creativity and innovation; and marketed these to the world. This, in turn, has attracted billions of dollars of new investment from many companies including Volkswagen, Amazon, and Blue Cross.
Waterloo, Ontario, and Riverside, California, receive visitors daily to learn how they prospered using their Intelligent Community reputation and status. Waterloo, ICF’s Intelligent Community of the Year in 2007, has a reputation of exceptional universities, local technology talent, and a legacy of collaboration. These exceptional Intelligent Community traits have attracted Google, EA, AGFA, Cisco, and others as well as supported thriving home-grown technology firms including Research in Motion (RIM), Christie Digital, OpenText, Teledyne-DALSA, and Com Dev.
Riverside, once a struggling bedroom community in the shadow of Los Angeles and ICF’s current Intelligent Community of the Year (2012), attracts investors due to its talent base and renewed infrastructure, including China’s Winston Chung, Xerox, Motorola, and Microsoft. Dublin, Ohio’s Dublink high-speed broadband network and Intelligent Community culture supports Verizon Wireless, Ashland Research, Nationwide, Alcatel-Lucent, IBM, and Cardinal Health. Well over 100 cities around the globe have benefited from the holistic approach that the Intelligent Community movement advocates, including Austin, Texas; Gangnam, Korea; Whittlesea, Australia; and Eindhoven, Holland.
Many cities, envious of an Intelligent Community’s “secret sauce,” simply make high-speed broadband and specialized monitoring equipment available to make them more efficient and cost-effective. However, although a terrific start, it’s only the first step in becoming an Intelligent Community.