(New York, New York, 8 June 2012) – The Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) today named Riverside, California, USA as the world’s Intelligent Community of the Year 2012 during its annual awards ceremony at Steiner Film Studios in Brooklyn, New York, USA. Riverside, which has appeared among the Top Seven Intelligent Communities for two years in a row, was represented by a delegation led by Mayor Ron Loveridge, as well as the city’s CIO Steve Reneker and Assistant City Manager Deanna Lorson. The co-founders of ICF – Louis A. Zacharilla, John G. Jung and Robert A. Bell – presented the award to Riverside, which succeeds Eindhoven, Netherlands, the 2011 recipient.
ICF also honored Senator Stephen Conroy, Australia's Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, as its Visionary of the Year. The award was presented in recognition of his extraordinary commitment and passion in attempting to enable the development of a digital age infrastructure in one of the world’s most unique nations.
The awards are presented by the independent think tank as part of its annual Summit. The annual invitation-only conference was attended by nearly 300 thought leaders from around the world, including the world’s Top Seven Intelligent Communities. The event is produced in association with the Institute for Technology & Enterprise at New York University’s Polytechnic Institute. The goal of the awards is to honor communities that have overcome challenges to set a global standard for the use of information and communications technology in building sustainable local prosperity and social inclusion in the 21st Century. Mayors, city managers, CIOs, and executives of leading technology companies from around the world, as well as academics and urban planners, are part of the Intelligent Community movement and were on hand throughout the three-day program (www.icfsummit.com).
Intelligent Community of the Year - Riverside, California, USA
At the end of the last century, Riverside was a bedroom community and university town, agricultural center and warehouse hub in the desert 60 miles from Los Angeles. It also had a large population of poor and poorly educated residents and was unable to retain many of the 55,000 graduates leaving its many institutions of higher learning.
In 2004, the mayor and a community college dean convened a High Tech Taskforce to figure out how to channel some of California's high-tech growth into their community. It gave birth to the Riverside Technology CEO Forum and SmartRiverside, which together led a multi-sector effort to change the city's destiny.
The city built a fiber network to connect its operations as well as the University Research Park. A free WiFi network now offers up to 1 Mbps service through 1,600 access points, and exploding demand has led multiple commercial carriers to deploy high-speed broadband across the city. Riding the network is an array of award-winning e-government applications, from dynamic traffic management to graffiti tracking and removal.
Riverside has also worked to leverage its universities in multiple ways. College 311, a Web-based hub for educational social and community services, aims to double the number of Riverside youth who complete college. Targeting five knowledge-intensive industries, Riverside and its partners have launched innovation efforts from a highly-acclaimed virtual secondary school to an Innovation Center offering incubation space, business acceleration and interaction with angel and venture investors. These efforts attracted 35 high-tech companies and established 20 tech start-ups.
In 2006, Riverside started a digital inclusion program, using its free WiFi network, to provide technology training, free computers and software to all of the city's low-income families. Making it happen is Project Bridge, which provides recycled IT equipment to 1,500 new families each year. The equipment is refurbished by reformed gang members, who learn valuable skills; Project Bridge is southern California's largest recycler of e-waste, and the project is funded by eBay sale of excess equipment. From the streets to the research lab, Riverside is ready for the digital age.
More information about Riverside is available on the Intelligent Community Profiles pages of the ICF Web site.
ICF Co-founder Louis Zacharilla congratulated the new Intelligent Community of the Year, saying, “You are an example of yet another community many left for dead, but which has fought all the way back, using its collective will power and intelligence to prove, once again, that there is a great revival taking place among the world’s cities, towns and regions.”
The Intelligent Community Forum is a New York-based think tank that studies the economic and social development of the 21st Century community. Whether in industrial or developing nations, communities are challenged to create prosperity, stability and cultural meaning in a world where jobs, investment and progress increasingly depend on broadband communications and other access technologies.
In the 21st Century community, connectivity is changing the definition and experience of communities: threatening established ways of life while also offering powerful new tools to build prosperous, inclusive economies. The Intelligent Community Forum seeks to share the best practices and success of the world's Intelligent Communities in adapting to the demands of what it calls “the Broadband Economy” by conducting research, hosting events, publishing books and newsletters and producing an international awards program. ICF’s publications include Broadband Economies (2008), Future Cities (2009) and an annual report on the year’s Top Seven Intelligent Communities.