New York, NY, May 5, 2015 – The Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) today announced that it will present the 2016 Visionary of the Year Award to Rio de Janeiro’s Knowledge Squares (Nave de Conhecimento) program. ICF is recognizing the program for its novel approach, which makes digital inclusion the centerpiece of neighborhood regeneration for some of the city’s most impoverished and excluded citizens.
The Knowledge Squares program is the brainchild of Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes and city CIO Franklin Dias Coelho. It targets the extreme level of income inequality in Brazil’s cities. Across Brazil in 2011, wealthy households had 38 times the average income of poor ones, but in Rio, the wealthiest households had 56 times the income of the poorest. The program also took advantage of the scheduling of global events like the World Cup and Olympics to motivate spending on projects that would improve Rio’s image at a time when the world’s eyes were on the city.
Working with companies such as Cisco and Embratel, Rio officials developed the Knowledge Squares with a clear goal: to develop young citizens into a knowledge workforce that is prepared for the upcoming international events and the greater global broadband economy in a way that is not possible in the public schools. To achieve this goal, Knowledge Squares offer classrooms, labs, digital libraries, recreation areas and a cinema, and provide young people and local communities with skills training in IT, robots, graphics, Web design and video production. For both the public and private partners, the program is a win-win: Rio has a way to educate its citizens and develop a knowledge workforce, and the companies now have a larger potential employee base for business expansion into Latin American markets.
"The Knowledge Squares project proves that the infrastructure required to overcome a city’s digital divide can come from inside the community and use neighborhoods as the hubs,” said ICF Co-Founder Louis Zacharilla. “We have said, that in order to go from the tech revolution to community renaissance, there needs to be a bridge to affordably link technology and people; one that gives everyone an equal chance to access and then to unleash human potential in all its many forms. With its Knowledge Squares, Rio has that bridge."
Rio de Janeiro is building these Knowledge Squares, starting with the first one in 2012, in in 50 low-income, crime-ridden neighborhoods. Behind the scenes, Franklin Dias Coelho’s team has set up a dashboard that displays real-time data on usage, employees, network access and number of workstations in use for all Knowledge Squares. It also stores the data, allowing them to monitor each Square, make adjustments and justify the expense of the program. The eventual goal is for no citizen to live farther than 15km from a Square.
The City Hall of Rio will be sending a representative to accept the award on behalf of the Knowledge Squares program and deliver the keynote address during the 2016 Intelligent Community Awards Dinner, the culmination of ICF’s annual Summit. The 2016 Summit takes place from 13-17 June in Columbus, Ohio, USA. The ICF Summit is an annual gathering of mayors, chief administrative officers, chief information officers and economic development officers from cities, states and regions around the world. The Summit continues the dialogue of the world's most dynamic communities around ideas for using information and communications technology to build prosperous, inclusive and sustainable communities. More information about the 2016 Summit is found at http://www.icfsummit16.com/.
ICF has presented the Intelligent Community Visionary of the Year award annually since 2005. The Award is presented to an individual or an organization that has taken a leadership role in promoting broadband technology and applications as an essential and transformative human utility, and whose work has had global impact on the entire Intelligent Community movement.
Previous recipients include Dr. Chih-Chiang (Jason) Hu, Vice Chairman of the Want Want Group and a former three-term mayor of the city of Taichung, Taiwan; Suneet Singh Tuli, the founder and CEO of Datawind, Ltd.; Blackberry Founder Mike Lazaridis; Australia's Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy; Finland's former Minister of Communications Suvi Linden; New Brunswick (Canada) Premier Shawn Graham; Andre Santini, Mayor of Issy-les-Moulineaux, France; Scot Rourke, CEO of OneCommunity in northeast Ohio; Pedro Cerosola, Mexico's Secretary of Communications and Transportation; Amirzai Sangin, Communications Minister of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan; and the founders of Wikia, Angela Beesley and Jimmy Wales.
About Intelligent Community Forum
The Intelligent Community Forum (www.intelligentcommunity.org), headquartered in New York, is a global movement of more than 145 cities, towns and regions. As an international think tank and Foundation, ICF studies and promotes the best practices of the world's Intelligent Communities as they adapt to the new demands and seize the opportunities presented by information and communications technology (ICT). To help cities and towns build prosperous economies, solve social problems and enrich local cultures, the Intelligent Community Forum conducts research, hosts global events, publishes books, and produces its high-profile annual international awards program. The Forum has two Institutes in North America dedicated to the study of the movement, with more institutes planned.
Global leaders, thinkers, and media observers follow and participate in the ongoing global dialogue initiated by the Intelligent Community Forum. In 2012 ICF was invited to participate at the Nobel Peace Prize conference in Oslo and in 2014, its model and work was recognized by the U.S. Department of Commerce under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which, according to the American government, was "aimed at creating a more flexible and responsive system of workforce development to meet the needs of employers looking to fill 21st century jobs.” The Forum’s Foundation has an association made up of 145 designated Intelligent Communities worldwide, which is represented by mayors and key civic leaders. For more information, go to www.icf-foundation.org. For more details on the Intelligent Community Forum’s recent publications and programs, www.intelligentcommunity.org.
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