“Never-Heard Of” Communities are Best Bets for Smart City/Intelligent Community Best Practices

Can global “No-Name” cities act as some of the world's best models as smart and Intelligent communities? You bet! Look at the current list of the SMART21 cities and the TOP7 Intelligent Communities this year to get a clue.

Among the world’s smartest examples include cities you may never have heard of before such as Whanganui, New Zealand; Townsville, Queensland, Australia; Elefsina, Attica, Greece; and Markham, Ontario, Canada. Each one of these cities offers initiatives, programs and governance examples that exhibit best practices that communities around the world can learn from or be inspired to emulate. From the 2022 ICF Smart21 list, you probably have only heard of four cities before: Adelaide, Belfast, Philadelphia, and Rochester. Some of you may have heard of two or three more on that list. But I bet most of you have never heard of the rest. But you should. They may have solutions, ideas and pathways leading to your next innovation staring you in the face.



Look at this year’s Top7 list. They include names such as Binh Duong, Vietnam; New Taipei City, Taiwan; Curitiba, Brazil; Prospect, Australia; Durham Region, Canada; Sunshine Coast, Australia; and Fredericton, Canada. Unless you are a close follower of the Intelligent Community Forum or from the country where these communities are from, I bet you've never heard of them before. But let's look at some examples of their incredible smart city innovations and Intelligent Community indicators from these communities.



Binh Duong Smart City - check out its innovation hub and growing number of Techlabs and Fablabs located in schools, universities and vocational colleges that collaborate closely with industrial partners and Binh Duong’s Department of Science and Technology.

Curitiba developed transit-related innovations that have been emulated the world over but it also has significant green energy, entrepreneurship, training and smart retail examples for you to explore. Check out its citizen participation strategies too!

Durham Region brings eight communities together in the shadow of Toronto. It has become the Clean Energy Capital of Canada and is the home of both Ontario Power Generation and Ontario Tech University’s Clean Energy Research Lab. Check it out!

Fredericton has built an incredible knowledge economy, especially for its size (Pop: 65,000). Its free WiFi, Digital Fredericton strategy and combination of smart services, private entrepreneurship and cooperative public investment in ICT completely transformed its economy where more than 70% of New Brunswick's knowledge industries now call Fredericton home and, on a per capita basis, the city hosts the largest engineering cluster in North America.

New Tapei City represents the collection of 28 districts and over 1000 villages surrounding Taipei making its 4 million population the largest city in Taiwan. Its conurbanization strategy since 2010 created new smart transportation, utility and broadband applications, opportunities for entrepreneurship and increased knowledge work examples that you should check out.

Prospect is the smallest of this year's TOP7 (Pop: 21,000) but packs more smart city and Intelligent Community best practices than many communities ten or twenty times its size. Among its many examples, Prospect implemented its “Next Generation” Digital Economy Strategy, encouraging outside investment and local business use of digital technology.

Sunshine Coast is known for more than its beaches and incredible sunsets. It brought several communities and shires together to create a smart and intelligent broadband-and knowledge work-based economy that has outpaced most of the regional economies in Australia through its diversity of key sectors including healthcare, education, finance and professional business services.

All of these communities are not well known globally (outside of ICF insiders) - but should be. They are all well worth a visit. You can virtually check them out via the website link provided above or join the Intelligent Community Forum when it showcases them during their next Summit in October 2022. Or ask to be introduced by the Intelligent Community Forum to develop a virtual or physical on-site visit with a business or learning delegation. ICF would be pleased to help to curate this opportunity with any and all of its roster of global Intelligent Communities.

John G. Jung
Urban Planner; Urban Designer; Economic Developer; Author; Speaker; re. Smart & Intelligent Cities; Co-Founder/Chair ICF; ICF Canada, Global Cities Navigator.

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