The process begins with communities filling out the Index Questionnaire, which asks multiple-choice, short answer and narrative questions. This may be completed and submitted at any time during the year. In the autumn of each year, ICF reviews questionnaires submitted or updated over the most recent three-year period. The analysis scores the quantitative data provided by communities against ICF's standards while an independent team of Analysts reviews answers to the narrative questions and scores them based on the Accelerator Strategy. Nominations close in early January each year.
At the end of that analysis, ICF announces its Smart21 Communities of the Year®, which are semi-finalists for Intelligent Community of the Year. Prior to the announcement, ICF informs all eligible communities - those whose questionnaire data is three years old or less - that they are under consideration, and we offer an opportunity to either update their information or to be excluded from the current Awards cycle. The Smart21 are announced in February each year.
The Smart21 then complete a more extensive and largely narrative questionnaire detailing their opportunities, challenges, and results. ICF's analysts review and score the questionnaires. These scores are combined with the Smart21 scoring to narrow the 21 to the Top7 Intelligent Communities of the Year®. The Top7 receive media coverage both locally and internationally, and become the finalists for ICF's Intelligent Community of the Year award. The Top7 are announced in June of each year.
Intelligent Community of the Year®
Each of the Top7 Communities hosts a visit from an ICF co-founder to validate the data provided in their questionnaire and gain first-hand insight into the key factors in their success as well areas needing further development. The co-founders write reports, which are reviewed by an international team of jurors. Their votes are combined with the scoring from the Smart21 and Top stages to select the Intelligent Community of the Year®,which is named on the closing day of the Global Summit in October of each year.