These days, practically everyone in municipal government knows what a Smart City is, thanks to marketing investments by major technology vendors and the support of national and regional government programs.
Smart City projects make cities work better. They apply information and communications technology to accurately monitor, measure and control city processes, from transportation to water supplies, the location of city vehicles to the performance of electric grids. Smart Cities are about saving money, becoming more efficient and delivering better service to the taxpayer.
Intelligent Communities are different. They seek to make better cities: places large and small, urban and rural, where citizens and employers thrive and prosper in the broadband economy.
Intelligent Communities adopt technology but do not make it their focus. Instead, they find vision-driven, community-based, technology smart solutions to their most urgent problems.
They make sure they have the broadband and IT infrastructure they need to be competitive. But they know it is only a means to an end. More of their energy goes into developing a workforce able to do knowledge work. More effort goes into crafting an innovation ecosystem where business, government and institutional partners create high-quality employment and meet social needs. More emphasis is placed on expanding access to digital skills and technology for those otherwise left out. More work goes into engaging citizens as advocates for progress.
Every Intelligent Community has Smart City projects underway. But many Smart Cities, limiting themselves to the immediate efficiency and cost benefits of ICT, have yet to take the first steps toward becoming Intelligent Communities.