Reviews of From Connectivity to Community

This book is a must read for today’s leaders of local governments and regional districts. It provides the tools for success in creating and maintaining an Intelligent Community, as well as many examples of transformation. It will empower leaders to take digital assets that are the necessary part of life, and turn them into financial, social and cultural growth for the community all while giving examples of how connectivity, knowledge-work and innovation are part of the fabric of local growth and success.

As one official put it, “If you only focus on technology, then you are missing the point.” Today, robust growth in the economy, society and culture is the foundation on which a healthy quality of life depends, making the community a great place to live, work and be. Going beyond the smart city perspective, this book provides the backdrop for a more holistic approach to community.

-Meghan Cook, University of Albany

This book is a great combination of theory, roadmap and practical examples of success. Embracing “disruption” and viewing it as an incentive for positive change is a good message. Rarely is a community immune to disruptors so viewing them as opportunities is important. That mentality provides hope for a community. The themes of engagement, involvement and inclusion resonate throughout the book and the community leaders that follow that will have high credibility with their constituents. People that have input to program developments (e.g. new sustainability policy, technology use, etc.) will more readily adopt and accept them. As communities progress there will be economic, social and cultural health / growth, making the community an attractive place for people to move into (or continue to live in). The message of “think differently, be a visionary but be practical” is supported through great examples from around the globe. This book ties it all together in an academic and logical way.

-Mark Buckley, City of Rochester, NY, USA

“From Connectivity to Community” provides an excellent overview of the Intelligent Community system, based on six key community elements. I have used this framework with many communities over the years and it imparts a recognition to community leaders about not just the need for broadband connectivity, but the need to use this connectivity aggressively and strategically for workforce development and spurring innovation. The concepts are appropriate for communities of all sizes and types. Strategies can be scaled up and scaled down and real, positive change can be achieved by a small group of people in a small rural place or by an army of leaders supported by professional staff across a large metropolitan area.

I particularly endorse the focus on community engagement and inclusion. The author has promoted this concept for many years, but it has never been more crucial than in today’s world. By adding sustainability to the mix, there is strong encouragement to do many of the “right” things which coincidently, turn out to be the smart things for community prosperity. The case studies provide a wealth of examples of communities turning small assets into significant community advantages.

-Bill Coleman, Community Technology Advisors

In his book From Connectivity to Community, Robert Bell makes the distinction between Smart and Intelligent - “Intelligent is about solving problems that matter – not just problems that technology can solve.” He walks you through the ICF Method and its six key success factors. You will read about the value other communities have realized from investing time in building partnerships including collaborations between government, education, and business (Community Partners). How communities of all sizes but especially how small and midsize communities have used the ICF Method as a framework, to help build and cultivate value from their community partnerships and build economic, social, and cultural health within their communities. The book is essentially your guide to a new approach for economic development in the digital age.

There are many case studies in the book about how small and midsize communities took on challenges, persevered in crises, and enjoyed successes along their journey to becoming an intelligent community. The practical, relatable, real-world examples make for an inspiring read.

-Todd Jackson, City of Westerville, OH, USA