The capital of the state of South Australia, Adelaide also enjoys, according to The Economist, the distinction of being among the most liveable cities in the world. It is the center of a metro area of 1.3 million that contains 75% of the state’s population. That high liveability factor is the result of its comfortable Mediterranean climate and coastal location, a legacy of planning that dates back to its founding in the 19th Century, and a diverse and well-educated population, of which 30% come from overseas and more than 34,000 are international students.
The community is home to the University of Adelaide, University of South Australia, Flinders University and campuses of Carnegie Mellon and University College London. The educational connection has given birth to multiple research and development parks, including the Waite Research Precinct, Technology Park, Science Park and the Research Park at Thebarton.
Growing the IT Economy
Despite its dominance of the state’s population, Adelaide’s housing is relatively cheap – about half the average price of Sydney and two-thirds that of Melbourne. That helps support the growth of an economy that is currently and comfortably driven by government spending. The largest employment sector is health care and social assistance at 13%, followed by retail at 12%. Metro Adelaide is also home to a significant percentage of Australia’s defense industry and a major Royal Australian Air Force base.
Adelaide’s Intelligent Community programs, however, focus on building a more innovative economy. It has partnered with a company called TPG to install Ten Gigabit Adelaide, a fiber-optic network offering 10 Gbps symmetrical capacity to businesses. The goal is to have fiber running down every street of the central business district and other business centers, with rollout beginning in early 2018. City government estimates that Ten Gigabit Adelaide will deliver between A$16m and A$76m in economic benefit, lead to the creation of 2,500 new jobs in six years, and have a major positive impact on business attraction, retention and consumer spending. It will also provide the fundamental infrastructure needed to deliver future smart city projects for better traffic management, smart lighting and security video.
The city has also retained its first Entrepreneur in Residence to guide aspiring entrepreneurs, company founders and business leaders in growing investment-ready start-ups. Kirk Drage returned to Adelaide after a decade working for Microsoft as Head of Entrepreneurship and Innovation. His multi-country Asian team recruited more than 8,000 startups during his tenure. He works from the Smart City Studio, founded in 2015 in partnership with Cisco, which declared Adelaide one of its Lighthouse Cities that same year.
A different kind of guidance is provided by the Digital Hub Training Program, which encourages lifelong learning through community computer literacy training. The Hub delivered nearly 1,300 programs in its most recent year, which brought training on computers, tablets, smartphones, virtual reality and robotics to 3,000 residents. More than 200 organizations also sent their employees to workshops on selling online, using social media for growth, and understanding emerging technologies.
Supporting What Works
The emphasis on preparing for a digital economy has not diverted Adelaide from investing in the things that make it a great community today. Study Adelaide is a program that markets the city as a destination for international students. (Wonderful weather and great beaches probably help.) It targets 43 cities in 11 countries and provides a joined-up approach to attract students, provide support for them once they arrive and build connections with local employers as they prepare to leave school. The success of the program is easily measured: students from overseas currently contribute about A$1.3 billion in economic value to the city.
With quality of life such an important driver, it is no wonder that Adelaide has signed on to the Paris Climate Accord of Mayors. Its Carbon Neutral Strategy aims to have the city become the first in the world to be certified as producing zero net carbon emissions by 2020. Adelaide already slashed its carbon emissions 60% from 1994 to 2010, when a new energy management plan began to transform how the city obtained its energy. City Council reduced its energy consumption by 15% through 2015 and achieved savings of A$800,000 in the process. It is now piloting a smart LED lighting program that is expected to reduce energy consumption by a further 10% and produce an average monthly savings of 1.8 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
Nature, location and history have been kind to Adelaide, which is Australia’s oldest municipal authority. Like all cities, it is faced with an increasingly unpredictable future, from climate change to disruptive innovation, and Adelaide is equipping itself with the infrastructure and programs needed to turn challenge into social, economic and cultural success.
(27 October 2017 – New York City) – In a live ceremony in New York City and an online video, the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) today named the world’s Smart21 Communities of 2018. Selection of this group of cities and counties begins the eight-month process through which ICF will name of them as its 2018 Intelligent Community of the Year. More than semi-finalists for an international award, the Smart21 represent the best models of economic, social and cultural development in the digital age, in the judgment of ICF and its team of independent analysts. The Intelligent Community of the Year will be named on June 7 during an Awards Dinner at the ICF Global Summit in London. (http://www.intelligentcommunity.org/summit_18)Read more
Nestled between two mountain ranges and the sea at the northeastern tip of the island, Yilan County is a cultural melting pot for Taiwan. Multiple indigenous tribes have settled in the area, beginning with the Kavalan people nearly 1000 years ago, followed by the Atayal people 250 years ago and finally the Han Chinese fifty years later. Due to its diverse historical influences, Yilan is home to many culture festivals, including the International Children’s Folklore and Folkgame Festival, Taiwan’s most internationally famous festival. The county’s striking location and unique culture have led to a thriving tourism industry.
Promoting Universal Broadband
Yilan’s networking demands have grown exponentially in recent history due to the rising tourism industry and the increasingly digital lifestyle of its populace. To meet this demand, the Yilan County Government has created the Promoting Universal Broadband project. The project focuses on three areas: free public Wi-Fi, FTTS and GSN/VPN. The county government has collaborated with the Taiwan central government to establish iTaiwan Wi-Fi hotspots all across Yilan. In addition, the local government of Yilan has worked with Taiwan Mobile to promote the Eland-Free Wi-Fi Plan, which provides free, Yilan-specific wireless Internet services in travel and tourist destinations. The Yilan County Government has helped to establish over 1,025 iTaiwan and Eland-Free hotspots as of 2016 with even more on the way.
The Yilan City Government’s FTTS Plan aims to bring Internet services into schools. As part of the plan, the government has set up broadband networks and digital facilities in 108 schools. Each class has also been allocated a computer and single-DMD projector to make use of the Internet availability.
The GSN/VPN Plan is the Yilan County Government’s project to build the architecture for county-wide Internet access. As part of the plan, the government also aims to build a large-scale virtual private Intranet for the county. All twelve townships in Yilan County have 100% network service coverage as of 2016 with over 300 locations providing network services.
Cultivating Future Talent in Yilan County
The Yilan County Government has introduced a series of educational and training courses for the county’s labor force, focusing especially on youth. Many of Yilan County’s schools, including Toucheng High School of Commerce and Home Economics, Luodong High School of Commerce, and National Yilan University have worked with local companies on the Youth Career Development Project. Together, they have held ten different information sessions, aiming to match school departments with appropriate companies in the county to help youth find the best jobs for them. The three schools have also organized the Labor Workforce Employment Skill Cultivation Project with J.P. Morgan Chase Bank. In 2015, 348 people participated in the project, and 228 of them acquired new skill licenses that allowed them to join the labor market.
The local government has planned a number of other educational programs, including the Mobile Learning Exemplar School Project, the Scratch Program Design Competition, the digital learning platform Moodle, and the Junyi Academy. Together, these programs provide digital education for students of all ages, focusing on computer literacy, programming, and mechatronics skills. In particular, elementary and junior high schools in the county are now completing 3D printing and robot design courses. The four programs have attracted hundreds of participants as of 2016, including 700 students in the Mobile Learning Exemplar School Project and 560 contestants in the 7th Scratch Program Design Competition alone.
Blending Tradition with Modern Innovation
Yilan County aims to blend the best of the old and the new, using the benefits of the broadband economy to transform its traditional industries rather than building from scratch. The local government has begun two projects: the Chung Hsing Cultural and Creative Park – Industry Incubation Project and the Yilan Cultural Creative Industries Counseling and Promotion Project to achieve this goal. The Chung Hsing Cultural and Creative Park will be launched early in 2017 with a storefront factory layout that allows multiple local creative industries to attract customers side-by-side. The park will include a network-sharing center, travel resource and mobile location services, an AR tour system on the park’s history, an online payment system and online ordering platform, a cultural information and travel planning platform, and many other services. For ease of transportation, the Chung Hsing Cultural and Creative Park will also offer an electric shuttle system, an electric vehicle sharing system, and a smart parking system. As of 2016, twenty-eight micro-businesses and studios are scheduled to be part of the park on launch.
The Yilan Cultural Creative Industries Counseling and Promotion Project works to attract local industries, such as textile dyeing, carpentry, and paper-making, to the Chung Hsing Cultural and Creative Park alongside young entrepreneurs aiming to start new online businesses. As part of the project, the local government provides assistance in eliminating regulatory obstructions for local businesses and outside startups wishing to relocate to the park. The project also provides digital channels for all its businesses to promote their products to a wider audience online and showcase Yilan’s creative industries to the world.
Digital Access for All
As broadband access reaches across Yilan County, the local government aims to help residents better utilize it with free public computer courses. The Yilan County Government has set up sixteen township information management centers (TIMCs) throughout the area, each equipped with computers and broadband Internet access. TIMCs provide computer education and training courses to local residents, focusing on Internet research and accessing government, education, and life services online. As of June 2016, 19,033 residents have attended these free courses since the initiative was launched in 2006.
The local government has also set up a series of six digital opportunity centers (DOCs) throughout its rural townships to spread digital literacy and knowledge to the rural regions of Yilan County. The current DOCs include the Yuanshan DOC (Tong le Elementary School), the Sanshing DOC (the Sanshing Public Library), the Jhuangwei DOC (Houpi Community Development Association), the Datong DOC (Stacis Churg), and the Nan’ao DOC (Nan’ao Public Library). Each DOC is equipped with computer and networking equipment to assist with courses on computer, mobile, and social network applications. The Department of Applied Informatics at Fo Guang University has provided 25 of its students with the opportunity to work in rural education through these DOCs, aiming to reduce the gap between urban and rural education.
Yilan, Town of Happiness
To spread awareness of its unique cultural and business offerings, Yilan County has adopted the brand “Yilan, Town of Happiness.” The brand focuses on Yilan’s many festivals and beautiful landscape to attract visitors. The Yilan County Image Calendar Project, begun sixteen years ago, showcases Yilan’s vibrant communities to the world. Each year, twelve communities in the county each create one month’s page of the calendar, including image and text. To facilitate as much participation as possible, the local government sets up community subsidization plans to provide funding to any community that helps create the calendar that year.
Yilan’s International Children’s Folklore and Folkgame Festival, held every year for the past twenty-one, is the country’s most internationally renowned festival. Each year, dozens of performance groups from around the world are invited to perform at the event, which includes exhibitions, games, performances, and cultural exchanges.
Yilan County is home to many other festivals and events as well, including the Yilan Green Expo, the Asia-Pacific Traditional Arts Festival and the Yilan Festival of Land, Arts and Creativity. The Green Expo includes various creative performances and an experience hall, which showcases green living and organic and sustainable production. The Asia-Pacific Traditional Arts Festival focuses on a specific arts topic each year with exhibits, performances, forums, workshops, seminars and demonstrations. The event creates a window through which the rest of the world can experience traditional Asian arts and crafts. Both the Yilan Green Expo and the Asia-Pacific Traditional Arts Festival have been held for over fifteen years. The Yilan Festival of Land, Arts and Creativity is by far the newest event, as it was established in 2016. The festival aims to raise public awareness of land conservation issues and local cultural offerings by inviting international artists and student groups to meet and interact with residents. This ensures that the works of art and other creative projects completed during the festival are a reflection of Yilan’s land and people.
Yilan County’s unique blend of people and cultures has always been its strength. With the introduction of broadband access and education, the county can show this strength to the world, attracting visitors and investors to spur future growth.
In the News
Read the latest updates about Yilan County.
If you have ever eaten a bowl of instant noodles, you owe a debt to Momofuku Ando, founder of Nissin Foods and inventor of this staple of Asian fast food, who was born and raised in Tainan City. This city of 1.9 million was the historic capital of Taiwan and the cultural heritage of centuries remains one of Tainan’s most important assets that drives a thriving tourist industry.
Tainan today, however, is about much more than the past. It is home to multiple science and technology parks including the Southern Taiwan Science Park, Tainan Technology Park and Shugu LCD Park. The tenant rolls are dominated by optoelectronics, integrated circuits, green energy and biotech companies, which together with more traditional manufacturing generate more than half of the city’s economic activity.
Partnering for Progress
Tainan’s government supports industry in multiple ways. Its Small Business Innovation Research program promotes and subsidizes R&D by smaller companies and incentivizes universities and research institutions to partner with them on commercialization. It has adopted a national program called Dual System Training, a carefully structured co-op employment and apprenticeship system. It accepts high school graduates and guides them through four years of work-study with Tainan employers that generally leaves them debt-free and employed upon graduation. Tainan entered the program in 2012 and by 2016, it had involved 6 universities and 37 companies, and admitted 250 students. Retention rates at partner companies hover around 80%.
Government also invests in broadband as a promoter of quality of life for employers and citizens. Adoption of fixed broadband already exceeds 95%, leaving little room for improvement. The government’s focus instead is on applications that can transform living and working in the city.
Disaster Prevention in the Taiwanese City Most Prone to Flooding
Tainan faces many challenges, including overcrowding, pollution, and disaster prevention. Rather than tackling each issue separately, the city government has used data from multiple organizations to improve city safety in all three areas at once. Tainan is the most flood-prone city in all of Taiwan, according to a report from 2014, and rains in recent years have become more concentrated and destructive during the summer months. To combat these troubles, the Water Resource Bureau has used big data to set up a disaster warning and prevention system, including sensors and beacons to warn residents throughout the city when floods are likely.
Tainan’s warm climate and heavy moisture also make it an ideal breeding ground for dengue fever. The city has experience five outbreaks in the past century. To protect its citizens and contain future outbreaks, the Tainan government is currently working on the LINE Chatbot, which combines two city services into one for easy access and use. The Chatbot will provide subscribers with daily news about community events, construction warnings, competitions, job fairs, and health warnings. It will also use the data collected from its subscribers to keep up-to-date records on any confirmed cases of dengue fever, what treatments have been administered, and all locations where patients are being treated. The Chatbot will serve as a first line of inquiry for anyone experiencing dengue-like symptoms, allowing residents to ask questions and get a basic health evaluation before making an appointment with a doctor.
Mobile Networking Project
Since 2009, the Tainan city government has provided free digital skills classes to middle-aged and senior citizens to help them make use of the city’s newer digital services. Topics include basic smartphone usage and applications, e-commerce, smartphone usage for travel, and smartphone usage for scheduling, including medical appointments, hotel booking and ticket purchases. The classes are taught in a “mobile classroom” environment in which teachers drive to the students, bringing all their class materials and equipment along, so that less mobile residents can still take part. In 2015, 3,428 residents attended at least one class, with the 43% of students being citizens between the ages of 60 and 70.
The Mobile Networking Project has developed a partnership with the Department of Health to improve quality of life and medical care for Tainan’s senior citizens. By offering classes on smartphone usage, the project gives residents easier access to the wealth of medical information available on the Internet and has also streamlined the appointment booking system for those seeking medical aid.
Air Quality Monitoring and Transparency
Tainan launched the Bright & Clear Skies program in 2014 to improve the quality of air by reducing particle pollution in the city. Particle pollution is created by a wide variety of daily activities, including factory production, driving vehicles, construction work, road dust, and many other sources. The program targets eight major source of pollution, including enforcing more rigorous vehicle inspections to prevent gas emission violations, advising local businesses on dust-capturing equipment, and encouraging residents to drive less and use public transit. Road dust is the largest source of particle pollution in Tainan. Dust particles on the roads are thrown up into the air by each vehicle that passes along a paved surface. In addition to encouraging citizens to use more public transit, Tainan has organized road-washing trucks throughout the city to minimize dust on major roads.
To ensure that air quality continues to improve, the Tainan government will be installing 240 air quality detection AirBoxes, donated by Edimax, throughout the city. The AirBoxes detect humidity, temperature, and multiple pollution figures, including PM2.5 levels. Edimax plans to collaborate with the Academia Sinica and Taian City to analyze data collected by the AirBoxes, and the city will set up a visual representation of the findings for general audiences. All citizens of Tainan will soon be able to access the visual representation and the indexed data online at airbox.tainan.tw or through an app on their smartphones.
The Open Government Initiative
In March of 2015, Tainan launched the Open Government Initiative to increase citizen participation in local government and ensure that all citizens are aware of the government’s activities and the services available to them. The Initiative includes three major sub-projects: Open Gov Tainan, Data.Tainan and the Open 1999 Service.
Open Gov Tainan (opengov.tainan.gov.tw) is the Open Government Initiative’s main online portal. The portal features video of government meetings as well as minutes and other relevant documents from those meetings, a public discussion forum for community issues, a proposals and suggestions section and a copy of the mayor’s public schedule. The Open Gov portal also includes links to the other two sub-projects: Data.Tainan and the Open 1999 Service.
Data.Tainan (data.tainan.gov.tw) was originally set up in June of 2014. It is an open data platform that makes large amounts of government-collected data available online. The Open 1999 Service is a phone hotline, website, and mobile app service rolled into one. The Service is an access point for citizens to report ordinance violations and submit service requests with all reports and progress on those requests available online to the public. Since implementing the Open 1999 Service, Tainan has seen a 50% decrease in response time to violation reports and service requests.
In an ever-changing world of new technologies and the challenges that come with them, Tainan has focused first and foremost on its people, providing education, easy avenues for participation and a better standard of living to lead the city as a whole into a brighter future.
Nelson didn’t make the cut in the top seven Intelligent Communities of 2017 revealed today.
The Queen City did make the shortlist of 21 announced last October but got no farther.Read more
The third-largest city in New York State, Rochester was one of America’s original boomtowns, first in the milling of flour and then as a major hub of manufacturing. The Rochester area has given birth to such famed companies as Eastman Kodak, Bausch & Lomb, Xerox and Western Union. Of the four, however, Kodak filed for bankruptcy in 2012, from which it emerged a year later a much smaller company, while the others relocated their headquarters to other US cities. As the city suffered from corporate downsizing and restructuring, the population fell by one-third from a 1950 high of 330,000 to 210,500 by 2010.
The local economy, however, retains pillars of strength. It is the home of the University of Rochester and Cornell University, the Rochester Institute of Technology and Monroe Community College. As large companies downsized, Rochester and the surrounding Monroe County have seen growth in small, high-tech firms, many of them leveraging the expertise in imaging and photographic technology that is the legacy of Kodak. This progress has not come by accident, but through growing collaboration among local government, educators and business, with support from state and national government.
Collaborating on Progress
The University of Rochester and its medical center are now the area’s largest employer, which attracted US$1.9bn in research grants between 2007 and 2012. That money has fueled local growth beyond the campus. As early as the 1990s, Rochester began building a network of private and nonprofit partnerships to diversify its economy. Organizations like High Tech Rochester and Greater Rochester Enterprise are helping create startups based on University of Rochester technologies.
A recent example of collaboration is the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership, of which Rochester is a part. This has brought nearly US$9m in public-sector grants to the city, which are being invested in remediation of brownfield manufacturing sites, an Innovation Accelerator Foundation and a business accelerator launched by High Tech Rochester. Private investors are also active, having recently funded companies including university spin-outs such as Omnin-ID, Adarza Biosystems and Clerio Vision.
The city aims to leverage that success with investment in broadband. It is seeking state funding to kickstart deployment of a fiber-to-the-premise network while simultaneously researching the opportunity to use the existing city and county fiber as the backbone for a comprehensive network serving government, business and education. The Rochester School District recently won a US$47m grant to expand Wi-Fi to all of its public schools at a state-mandated speed of 100 Mb.
The legacy of manufacturing job losses, however, has left the city a sizable low-income population with poor prospects for participation in the digital global economy. Rochester has more people living at less than half the US Federal poverty level than any other American city of similar size. For that reason, many of the city’s programs target the creation of economic mobility for its poor citizens.
Operation Transform Rochester offers five programs geared toward education, vocation and employment. They target youngsters age 11 to 18 and offer training in basic career skills, leadership, self-development, and social and emotional health. Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) brings together secondary schools and community colleges to offer a six-year program in information technology that produces an associate degree as well as university credit, and qualifies graduates for entry-level IT jobs.
A program called Kiva Rochester provides small, no-interest, crowdfunded loans to help low-income entrepreneurs start local retail and service businesses. More important than the money is the process: Kiva’s borrowers are vetted by trustee organizations who publicly vouch for their creditworthiness. The city’s Focused Investment Strategy targets four highly distressed neighborhoods for property investment – places riddled with concentrated poverty, elevated rates of crime, tax and mortgage delinquency and distressed housing stock. The investment has gone into demolition, building code enforcement, building improvements, new construction and streetscape beautification. Public investment of US$17m triggered private-sector investment of $89m, which has created hundreds of homes while reducing crime and boosting neighborhood pride.
Determined to bring more of its citizens into the digital economy, Rochester is using the institutions it inherited from a proud industrial past to engineer a brighter future.
(26 JANUARY 2017 – NEW YORK CITY) – Thought leaders from cities as diverse as New Westminster in British Columbia, Canada, Tallinn in Estonia and Binh Duong in Vietnam will be in Taipei, Taiwan on 9 February to hear who makes the list of the Intelligent Community Forum’s annual Top7 Intelligent Communities. The international awards program, now in its 18th year, begins with 400 candidates each year. Through the work of a team of international analysts, the list goes to 21 and then 7. In June, one of the Top7 will be named the world’s Intelligent Community of the Year in New York at the ICF Summit (June 6-8, www.icfsummit.com). Montreal, Quebec, Canada is the reigning Intelligent Community of the Year.Read more
A suburb of Toronto, this city of 92,000 on the shore of Lake Ontario is not your standard bedroom community. It is home to Pickering Nuclear Generating Station, an eight-reactor facility with a capacity of more than 4,000 megawatts. Around the plant has grown a cluster of energy technology firms, as well as companies specializing in audio and electrical equipment, pharmaceuticals and water purification and chemical recovery. The northern half of the municipality is largely rural and agricultural with a scattering of residential developments.
Equipping People for Broadband
Pickering has high broadband availability and adoption but a skills gaps among residents with lower income and/or lower educational achievement. The community tackles the challenge through two programs. The Pickering Library system runs a free program for digital skills training that is available to all residents. It focuses on computer basics, common software applications and web browsing. With a library card, residents can also take part in online learning through partners including Lynda.com for software training, Gale Courses in business, and Mango Languages. Thousands of residents have taken courses, which have opened doors, changed lives and established new connections between residents.
PPL Connect, the second program, brings training directly to residents in need. Funded by a research grant, it works with partners that provide onsite and one-to-one training in such skills as submitting a resume online, using videoconferencing services and web search. For those without access technologies, the program loans laptops and portable Wi-Fi hotspots. PPL Connect gives priority to those with the lowest level of skills but also helps residents with solid technical skills to learn advanced topics from 3D printing to robotics.
To fill in gaps of access and affordability, Pickering has also deployed 35 wireless hotspots at public facilities and waterfront parks, and plans to deploy 10 more. The network is already connecting with 5,000 unique devices and supporting more than 20,000 sessions per month. Next on the city’s agenda is a community engagement program to gain input on where free Wi-Fi should be deployed in the future.
Sustainability is taken seriously in Pickering, where quality of life is vital to its economy. A program called Celebrating Sustainable Neighborhoods is a competition for neighborhood groups – schools, community groups, place of worship and businesses – to improve the place they live. A peer vote each year determines which neighborhood receives a grant of up to C$10,000 to further its work. Since the program’s launch in 2013, it has generated more than 260 community-building projects from community gardens and charity fundraisers to litter cleanups, youth programs and waste and energy reduction.
The same drive to improve life at the community level extends to all of the city. As Toronto’s economy expanded from 1996 to 2001, Pickering saw its population swell, resulting in the rapid conversion of farmland in the north to residential subdivisions. The city responded by slapping development restrictions on agriculture land. Forecasts, however, project the population of Pickering to more than double to 190,000 by 2031, creating enormous demand for housing. The community is engaging in negotiations with developers to better balance demand for development with the need to conserve rural quality of life.
While protecting its rural areas, Pickering has spent two years studying and conducting public consultation about a plan for urban intensification of its downtown. The plan seeks to manage growth, articulate placemaking opportunities and target investment rationally over the next 20 years. The resulting study, Downtown Pickering: A Vision for Intensification, provides computer modeling, policies and guidelines for land use, mobility, built form and capital projects.
Population growth offers Pickering opportunities for greater prosperity in the future, but only if it can maintain a high quality of life for citizens and ensure that the benefits of growth are shared across the economy. The chance to fulfill those goals brought the city to adopt the framework of the Intelligent Community Forum to guide its development.
The city of Nelson has a long history of booming growth, quick modernization, and community action. Founded on the discovery of silver in the nearby mountains, Nelson grew into a thriving transportation and distribution center for the region, expanding its economy into forestry and agriculture as well as mining. The city of just over 10,000 is found in the Selkirk Mountains near the southern border of British Columbia and is the regional seat of the Central Kootenay Regional District, despite making up only about one fifth of the region’s population. Nelson has struck a rare balance of modernization and preservation, updating many of its buildings with modern conveniences over the past half century, beginning with aluminum siding in the 1960s, while maintaining its historic downtown as a window into the past.
Local businesses and organizations can take advantage of Nelson’s dark fiber network, Nelson Fibre, which has been in operation since 2005. Nelson Fibre is a growing utility with over 50 fiber strands currently deployed to local businesses, theaters, schools, colleges, municipal departments, and downtown work spaces. The city also has its own local wireless company, Columbia Wireless, which was one of Nelson Fibre’s original service providers alongside DHC Communication Inc., Sensible Solutions Inc. and the Columbia Basin Broadband Corporation. To raise awareness of the network, The Nelson Fibre Sales and Marketing Plan issues editorials and press releases to educate key organizations about the benefits of broadband fiber and also about installation and deployment. Columbia Wireless also educates local customers about their Internet connectivity options and provides a variety of wireless packages.
Nelson serves as a general broadband advocate via the Broadband Communication project, educating its citizens and local businesses in the value of high speed Internet access for students and organizations and in the many broadband options available to them. The city publishes articles on the solutions broadband provides to a host of technical and often mission-critical business applications. Thanks to the project, the average business in Nelson knows of the many service providers available in the area, including Telus and Shaw, which provide a wide range of asymmetrical high-speed services even in surrounding rural areas.
Founded in 2010 by Brad Pommen, the Nelson Tech Club (NTC) “Hackerspace” offers weekly technology programs for local youth ages 10-16. The club provides mentors, tools and resources—using a social learning framework based on STEM initiatives—for up to 50 participants each week. NTC provides its tools and resources to the community at low or sometimes no cost to increase technology adoption and train local youth in technical skills for future careers. The club also coordinates with the RoboGames youth robotics competition for the Kootenay region. Since its founding, the NTC Hackerspace has grown into Canada’s largest all-ages, public Hackerspace with over 400 registered members in 2016.
In addition to broadband services and education, Nelson has also developed programs to help local business and innovators get off the ground. Selkirk-SME Applied Research and Technology Solutions (SMARTS) is a program developed with Selkirk College to accelerate local small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The SMARTS program helps SMEs develop project plans and secure funding proposals, and also provides access to research support from Selkirk College faculty and students working in the areas of geospatial and digital fabrication technologies. Since its creation, the program has aided 38 SMEs and provided 25 other SMEs with references to other organizations when they did not qualify for the program. Six full projects have been completed with SMARTS consultation with five more currently in development.
Library Access Fills Broadband Gaps
Even with the wide range of broadband services available in Nelson, not all citizens have high-speed Internet access. The Nelson Public Library offers access to computers and high-speed WiFi service, as well as one-to-one training and small group sessions in technology usage. The city provides the public library with 10MB fiberoptic WiFi service for this purpose.
Path to 2040 Sustainability Plan
Nelson has adapted well to change throughout its history, and to continue this legacy, the city has developed the Path to 2040 Sustainability Plan. As part of this and related plans, the Nelson City Council set aggressive corporate GHG emission targets, resulting in a 25% reduction in corporate emissions to date and making Nelson one of fewer than 10 Canadian municipalities to achieve the highest reduction levels in the Partners for Climate Protection Program. The city has also launched a home energy retrofit program to finance retrofits and a Solar Farm project that has nearly sold out with no subsidies offered.
Nelson has always looked within for its strength, from building its own hydroelectric generating system in the early 1900s to the Nelson Fibre network of today. By educating and providing its people with high-speed broadband access and facilitating local innovation, the city has laid a path toward a future as booming as its past.
Founded upon the discovery of gold in the region in the mid-1800s, New Westminster was originally meant to be “a second England on the shores of the Pacific.” The city served as the capital of the colony of British Columbia but was eventually replaced by Victoria when the two colonies united to form Canada’s sixth province. New Westminster has been an important economic and transportation center in western Canada for over a century with a wide mix of industrial sectors that have allowed it to weather economic changes and hardships alike.
Bringing Fiber to New Westminster with BridgeNet
BridgeNet is New Westminster’s city-owned open access fiber network, officially launched in June 2016. The first phase of the fiber network project was completed in September, enabling four new Internet service providers to provide 1 gigabit high-speed service to key areas of the city. The city itself serves as the neutral and independent open access provider. This allows New Westminster to offer standard and transparent pricing to ISPs on the network, thereby increasing consumer choices and stimulating broadband service competition. As part of BridgeNet, New Westminster is collaborating with telecommunications providers, Internet service providers and value-added service vendors to bring more connectivity options throughout the city. The city has also signed an agreement with BC-Net, a not-for-profit shared information technology services organization in British Columbia, to bring fiber connectivity to Douglas College, Justice Institute of British Columbia and the Royal Columbia Hospital.
The Training Group
Douglas College in New Westminster has taken a leading role in preparing the next generation of entrepreneurs with the Training Group: Self Employment Services (SEP). The Training Group delivers customized labor market training and programs for government, business other community groups, including business planning, classroom, training, professional mentoring services and general group support for budding entrepreneurs. The SEP team consists of business consultants and instructors with experience in launching and running their own successful businesses. The Training Group’s combination of real-world business skills and entrepreneurial training has been wildly successful with 95% of participants launching their own businesses after the program and 72% of those remaining in business for at least four years afterward.
The IDEA Centre
New Westminster’s Innovation, Discovery, Education, and Advancement (IDEA) Centre is a collaboration among many institutions, both in the public and private sector, to support medical research and development, business and personal services, offices and advanced education facilities. The project was begun in 2015 in conjunction with the redevelopment of the Royal Columbian Hospital, as a way to expand economic activity in the surrounding Sapperton District. The IDEA Centre’s many collaborators hope to create an environment for advanced education and research in the district, including establishing Centers of Excellence such as a proposed mental health center and medical training facilities such as a simulator lab. The IDEA Centre was designed as an economic development strategy with input from the mayor’s Task Force on the Economic Health Care Cluster.
To facilitate the development of this new health care center, the BridgeNet fiber optic network is being extended to the area around the hospital and to Simon Fraser University Harbour Centre. The city has created joint fiber optic infrastructure plans with the Fraser Health Authority (FHA) to assist with the redevelopment of the RCH campus and the FHA’s regional communications and data center. In addition, New Westminster has developed a neighborhood district system powered by clean, renewable energy for the Sapperton District and, as of 2017, is in the process of redeveloping Sapperton Park, including the local playground and sports field.
Fostering Digital Literacy and Inclusion
The New Westminster Public Library launched a program in the fall of 2011 to address literacy gaps in citizens’ use of library computers. Under the program, library patrons can book appointments with library staff to get individual training that meets their specific needs, working either with the library computers or the patrons’ own devices. To further improve the program, the New Westminster Public Library conducted a study of patrons’ computer use in 2014, which lead to the introduction of Sunday morning computer tutorials for seniors. Local high school students volunteer as instructor aids for these classes and receive training and a certificate that they can use as work experience credit for college.
In addition to digital instruction, the New Westminster Public Library has also expanded its collections to include a wide variety of digital resources. The library began providing e-books through its membership in the BC Libraries Coop in 2010 and added e-magazines and e-newspapers in 2012. To help support its e-collections, the New Westminster Public Library offers e-readers preloaded with a collection of e-books for patrons to borrow and has also created a “Tech Bar” to showcase Android and Apple tablets for patrons’ use.
Continuing its history of economic diversity and growth in the face of hardship, New Westminster is bringing the future to its corner of British Columbia via high-speed Internet access and an educated public ready to put its resources to the best use for innovation.