New York, NY – June 5, 2014 - The Intelligent Community Forum today named Toronto, Ontario, Canada as the 2014 Intelligent Community of the Year at its annual awards in New York City. Toronto’s win marked the conclusion of the annual Intelligent Community Summit.
This was the third year that Toronto reached the finals and the Top7 Intelligent Communities list (previously in 2005, and 2013). The award was accepted by the Toronto delegation led by Councillor Ann Bailao, Councillor Michael Thompson and Waterfront Toronto CEO John Campbell. The co-founders of the Intelligent Community Forum – Lou A. Zacharilla, John G. Jung and Robert A. Bell – presented the award to Toronto, which succeeds Taichung City, Taiwan, the 2013 recipient. Toronto is the first Canadian city to capture the Intelligent Community Forum’s global award since 2007, when another Ontario community, Waterloo, was named.
Toronto was selected after a year-long evaluation that included quantitative analysis of extensive data on the community, site inspections by co-founders of the Intelligent Community Forum, and the votes of an international jury made up primarily of non-Canadians.
“Toronto certainly earned its place as the 2014 Intelligent Community of the Year,” said co-founder Lou Zacharilla. “It proved that in a democracy an Intelligent Community can move forward despite challenges to the quality of its leadership and its image. It is why democracies thrive, even in difficult times. Toronto was selected because it performed impressively against a set of diverse criteria and focused its academic, creative and private sectors, as well as its City Council leadership on the work and continued success of the entire community.”
Zacharilla praised the waves of Toronto start-up companies coming from tech incubators and places like the Digital Media Zone at Ryerson University, innovations and research for the film and media industry from Pinewood Studios, the remarkable recovery and artistic output of Regent Park and the city’s sustainable new Waterfront development.
“In our view, Toronto offers a glimpse of how to flourish in the new economy and of how to adjust to the changes of the digital era,” he said.
Despite a controversial political situation with Toronto’s Mayor Rob Ford that provided a unique public challenge, Toronto has achieved economic growth. The city’s Prosperity Agenda, a plan that brings together the city’s stakeholders who can and want to contribute to Toronto’s long-term prosperity, is built around a single vision. It is a call to action for a renewed level of investment in the city, as well as cooperation among industry, labor, educators and orders of government to enhance competitiveness and stimulate sustained economic growth for the benefit of all. And, despite the fact that the labor workforce and population have both grown year over year, the unemployment rate in Toronto is at its lowest since 2008.
As the evening began, the Intelligent Community Forum presented its 2014 Visionary of the Year Award to Suneet Singh Tuli, the CEO of DataWind. Tuli who lives in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), earned this honour for the development of the Aakash II/UbiSlate tablets, which the Intelligent Community Forum believes will revolutionize access to knowledge for billions of people and stabilize communities in the process.
The tablet is the world’s cheapest computer, according to Forbes Magazine. In one of his best-known quotes regarding his mission Tuli said, “I don’t care about creating the iPad killer. I care about the four billion people who can afford this device.” Tuli has previously been recognized by Forbes Magazine in its 2012 Impact 15 list as a “classroom revolutionary” using innovative technologies to reinvent education globally. He was also named the 2012 Entrepreneur of the Year at the World Sikh Awards.
The Intelligent Community Forum is an independent think tank and presented the awards as part of its annual Summit. Today’s Summit was attended by nearly 250 thought leaders from around the world, including the world’s 2014 Top7 Intelligent Communities and previous Intelligent Communities of the Year, including New York, Waterloo, Eindhoven and Taichung. The event was produced in association with New York University’s Polytechnic Institute. 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 participated in the three-day Summit (www.icfsummit.com).
Intelligent Community of the Year 2014 Snapshot: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Toronto has both the assets and the liabilities that come with being Canada’s largest city. On the asset side is its diverse economy, with key clusters in finance, media, ICT and film production, and success as a magnet for immigrants that have made it one of the most multicultural cities in the world. Major carriers offer high-quality broadband to 100% of residents, and its five major universities and multiple colleges have attracted 400,000 students and helped ensure that Toronto has more residents with undergraduate degrees than London, England.
Toronto is challenged by the highest cost of living in Canada and transportation gridlock that gives GTA residents the world’s longest average commute times. These factors have contributed to the success of suburbs in attracting new and existing businesses. To reverse this trend, Toronto is doubling down on the value of a dense, superbly equipped and culturally rich urban experience. The centerpiece is Waterfront Toronto, North America’s largest urban renewal project, which is revitalizing 800 hectares of brownfield shoreline with 40,000 residential units, parks and one million square meters of commercial space designed to the highest environmental standards. Offering 1 Gbps fiber-based broadband– provided at no cost to the 10% of housing set aside for low-income residents – the Waterfront is expected to offer a home to 40,000 new knowledge industry jobs. Early commercial tenants include Corus Entertainment and the George Brown College Health Sciences campus.
Though impressive in size and scale, the Waterfront is only the most visible of many public-private collaborations through which the city is pursuing an ICT-powered future. The MaRS Discovery District supplies housing, incubation, acceleration and investment services to hundreds of early stage portfolio companies downtown, while the Ryerson University Digital Media Zone gives entrepreneurs space and services to move great ideas to initial commercial success. The Centre for Social Innovation does the same for social innovators and its successful model has led to operations across four locations in two countries. Toronto’s libraries offer computers and training to tens of thousands, while outreach programs equip families with inexpensive IT, connectivity and training. With C$2 billion planned for transportation investment over the next 25 years, Toronto is preparing the physical, human and digital infrastructure for continued success.
About the Intelligent Community Forum
The Intelligent Community Forum studies and promotes the best practices of the world's Intelligent Communities as they adapt to the demands and seize the opportunities presented by information and communications technology (ICT). To help communities build prosperous economies, solve social problems and enrich local cultures, the Intelligent Community Forum conducts research, hosts events, publishes newsletters and books and produces its high-profile international awards program. Since 1999, the Intelligent Community Forum is an international movement that attracts the attention of global leaders, thinkers, and the media. The Intelligent Community Foundation consists of 126 cities and regions that have been designated as Intelligent Communities through the awards program, and which participate in an ongoing global dialogue to strengthen local economies, conduct business and solve complex problems. For more information, go to www.intelligentcommunity.org
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