Intelligent Community of the Year

ICF names the Intelligent Community of the Year® at its annual ICF Summit. The selection of the Intelligent Community of the Year culminates the 12-month cycle of the Intelligent Community Awards Program®.

The Intelligent Community of the Year® is selected from among the Top7 Intelligent Communities named in June. From June through October, ICF submits detailed data provided by each community to an independent research company, which helped ICF develop the original metrics for the award program. This company conducts a quantitative analysis of the information on dozens of factors and produces an aggregate score for each community.

Simultaneously, the founders of ICF visit each of the Top7 to validate the information they provided and prepare reports, which are reviewed by an international jury of former Intelligent Communities of the Year, government officials, business leaders, academics and consultants involved in the Intelligent Community movement. The jury ranks each of the communities, and ICF combines this qualitative ranking with the quantitative scoring of the research company to produce the final selection.

Learn how ICF selects the honorees in its award program on our Awards Process page.


The Intelligent Communities of the Year


Binh Duong, Vietnam



In the heart of Vietnam’s southeastern Binh Duong Province is a brand new city in development. Binh Duong Smart City is being created by collaboration among the Smart City Office, Becamex, the state agency overseeing the project, the academic and entrepreneurial sector and the Standing and the Peoples’ Committees of the government, working together to develop a modern, environmentally friendly city that will someday be home to one million Vietnamese. The new city already includes Eastern International University, a world-class academic institution, as well as six industrial parks. Binh Duong Smart City has worked tirelessly, assisted by ideas such as the “triple helix” collaboration method from ICF alumnus Eindhoven, the 2011 Intelligent Community of the Year, to transform a traditionally agrarian, low-population area into a core of Vietnam’s Southern Key Economic Zone.


New Taipei City, Taiwan



People have lived along the Tamsui River in what is now New Taipei City (NTC) for 5,000 years, yet the city is less than 20 years old. It was created in 2010 from the county surrounding Taiwan’s capital city of Taipei, and its founding Mayor Eric Chu set out to transform a loose collection of suburban cities and rural land into a unified metropolis. NTC had been shaped by its relationship with Taipei: it was a residential district and location for traditional and often highly polluting industries, and its transport network was oriented to move people and goods into and out of the capital. Many of those industries, like ceramics and glass-making, had been under severe competitive pressure for decades from China and lower-cost countries. NTC faced the need to develop a knowledge-based economy to power its future.


Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada



Winnipeg is the capital of the Canadian province of Manitoba, located in the center of the North American continent. Winnipeg’s economy is dominated by agriculture, energy, manufacturing and a growing tech scene. Over the past decade, the city has built a new economic foundation by connecting industry, education and a rising technology sector. Winnipeg’s digital transformation began when local business leaders, frustrated by poor broadband service, established the Manitoba Internet Exchange to attract internet service providers and reduce their operating costs. Today, it has seen major investments in greater connectivity by private sector companies including a $400 million investment by Bell MTS for all-fiber connections across Winnipeg. Strong collaborations with universities, community colleges and major employers have created everything from large fabrication labs to digital equipment upgrades and micro-credential workshops that generate new products, new companies, and new jobs.





Estonia saw a major boom from 2004 to 2007, as loan capital poured in from Scandinavian countries. The country’s rise from Soviet occupation, beginning in 1991, had been miraculous, but the wave of investment was more than the market could usefully absorb. When the financial crisis came, it hit Estonia and its principal city of Tallinn very hard. Several thousand companies went bankrupt and layoffs, particularly of the low-skilled, rose into the tens of thousands. Yet beneath the froth, Tallinn has put into place the foundations of ICT-based growth that is generating a strong comeback.


Taoyuan, Taiwan



On Christmas Day of 2014, Taiwan lost a county and gained a city, when the county of Taoyuan changed to municipal status. Its proximity to the Taipei Metropolitan Area has led to major investments in such public utilities as Taiwan’s largest international airport and the 2017 Taoyuan MRT Airport Line, which speeds connections between the city’s high-speed rail station and the airport. Taoyuan is the largest industrial science and technology city in Taiwan. More than one-third of Taiwan’s top 500 manufacturing industries have set up factories in Taoyuan. The industrial output value of about 2.87 trillion NTD has led all Taiwanese cities for 14 consecutive years. The population is a fusion of many ethnic groups such as Minnan, Hakka and Aboriginal people.  Because of the industrial development, Taoyuan is also the municipality with the largest number of foreign workers from Southeast Asia and the largest number of Vietnamese new residents.

2018   Espoo-small-200.jpg  

Espoo, Finland



In the far northern nations of the world, people tend to cluster southward. Espoo, Finland's second largest city, lies on the border of its biggest city and national capital, Helsinki. Both stand on Finland’s southern coast, directly across the Gulf of Finland from Tallinn, a frequent Top7 Intelligent Community and the capital of Estonia. In 1950, Espoo was a regional municipality of 22,000, which drew its name from the Swedish words for the aspen tree and for river. Today, Espoo is still a place on a river bordered by aspen, and about 8 percent of its population still speaks Swedish as its first language. Sixty-five years later, however, it is an industrial city of 270,000. It retains its dispersed, regional nature, however, being made of up of seven population hubs arrayed along the border with Helsinki, where many of its citizens work.

2017   Melbourne-small-150.jpg  

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia



Melbourne is Australia’s second largest municipality and the capital of the state of Victoria. A leading financial center, this city of 130,000 is at the center of a metropolitan area of 4.5 million people and is hub for the Australian film and television industries. In 2016, The Economist named Melbourne as the world’s most livable city for the sixth year in a row. Melbourne’s top score for livability is partly the product of a community plan called Future Melbourne. In 2016, the city began to refresh the plan, renaming it Future Melbourne 2026, through meetings of a Citizen’s Jury made up of residents, workers and business executives. Working together, the people, businesses and institutions of Melbourne are building a future that leverages the city’s strengths while working to close the gaps left by the past decade of development.

2016   montreal_small.jpg  

Montreal, Quebec, Canada



The largest French-speaking city in North America, the Montreal Metro Area is home to more than a tenth of Canada’s population. The region was hit by the decline of heavy industry in the Eighties, and launched a large-scale transition of its economy to ICT, aerospace, life sciences, health technologies and clean tech. Together, these clusters contain more than 6,250 companies employing about 10% of the workforce. A Smart City plan introduced in 2011 is the most recent contributor to this transition. It focuses on further build-out of the city’s wired and wireless broadband infrastructure, as well as deploying technology to make city services and systems more efficient and creating a collaborative ecosystem involving business, institutions and citizens.

2015   columbus_small.jpg  

Columbus, Ohio, USA



Columbus is a city of sharp contrasts.  The capital of the state of Ohio, it has the highest metropolitan concentration of Fortune 1000 companies in America and is the home of the research school Ohio State University (OSU) and Battelle, the world’s biggest private research institute.  But the city also has a large, low-income population stranded by the decline of low-skilled factory employment .  Columbus is attacking these challenges on multiple fronts and through collaboration among government, education, business and institutions.  The collaboration plays out in broadband, in education, business startup and acceleration, and programs to create a better quality of life for all citizens.   

2014   toronto_small.png  

Toronto, Ontario, Canada


  Toronto has both the assets and the liabilities that come with being Canada’s largest city.  On the asset side is its diverse economy and success as a magnet for immigrants that have made it one of the most multicultural cities in the world.  On the liability side are the high cost of living and transportation gridlock that gives residents of the region the world’s longest average commute times. To reverse this trend, Toronto is doubling down on the value of a dense, superbly equipped and culturally rich urban experience.  

2013   taichung_small.jpg  

Taichung City, Taiwan


  When the city and county of Taichung merged in 2010, it created a huge metropolis uniting completely different economies: a major seaport city where 70% of employees work in services, and a rural county where 50% work in industry and agriculture is a significant source of income.  The city’s leadership, under Mayor Chih-Chiang (Jason) Hu, was determined to create a whole much greater than the sum of its parts. 

 2012   riverside_small.jpg  

Riverside, California, USA


  Searching for sustainable growth, the bedroom community of Riverside is building a tech-based economy. The community has partnered with its universities to develop tech parks, incubators, business accelerators and mentoring programs. Carriers have deployed fiber and wireless networks reaching 80% of the city. A $1.6 billion revitalization program begun in 2006 is improving traffic flow, replacing aging water, sewer and electric infrastructure, and improving police, fire, parks and libraries.

2011   eindhoven_small.jpg  

Eindhoven, Netherlands


  The Eindhoven Region has long been Netherland's industrial heartland.  The region has its edge through Brainport, a public-private program that has turned the region into an open innovation platform, added 55,000 jobs in the past 10 years, nearly quadrupled high-tech start-ups since 2000, and helped the region weather the financial crisis.

2010   suwon_small.jpg  

Suwon, South Korea


  Suwon has created an economy whose growth is based on small-to-midsize enterprises specializing in IT, biotech and nanotechnology. Today, two-thirds of Suwon companies specialize in one of its targeted industries and companies with 50 or fewer employees make up 94% of all employers in the city.

2009   stockholm_small.jpg  

Stockholm, Sweden


  Stockholm, on Sweden's south-central east coast, has been Sweden´s political, cultural and economic center since the 1200s. One out of every eleven Swedes lives in Stockholm, and in the first decade of the new century, their city has continued to find ways to make "big" work better.

2008   gangam_small.jpg  

Gangnam District, Seoul, South Korea


  The district contains only 2.5% of Seoul's population but produces 25% of its gross domestic product. Gangnam's development as an Intelligent Community began in 1995, when the district launched its first "electronic government" project. The system has made possible a 25% reduction in the local government's employment since 1995 and has saved citizens time worth 28.5bn won (US$30m).

2007   waterloo_small.jpg  

Waterloo, Ontario, Canada


  Waterloo, best known as the home of BlackBerry developer Research in Motion is a city of 115,000 that is the smallest, geographically speaking, of seven cities that make up Canada's Technology Triangle.  But with only 10% of the labor force in the Triangle, it accounts for 45% of job growth and is home to 40% of the high-tech firms in the region.

2006   taipei_small.jpg  

Taipei, Taiwan


  A city of 2.6 million, Taipei operates 88 tech incubators and 45 R&D center, including the Nangang Software Park, where over 2,000 firms generate US$47 billion in sales.  Taipei attracts investment and new business through a strategy that combines low-cost communications, highly-skilled knowledge workers who produce digital products efficiently, and growing capability for ubiquitous broadband.

2005   mitaka_small.jpg  

Mitaka, Japan


  Mitaka, Japan, a suburb of Tokyo, has a population of 173,000. It was the first city in Japan to host a field test of fiber-to-the-home, and its cable TV company became the first ISP in Japan to offer broadband in 1996.  The community has a tradition of active citizen participation when it comes to developing its infrastructure.

2004   glasgow_small.jpg  

Glasgow, Scotland, UK


  Glasgow, Scotland was a leader in Britain’s Industrial Revolution and one of the richest cities in Europe.  But in the post-war years, the city suffered the intense decline common to many former industrial centers, as industries from shipbuilding and mining to heavy manufacturing lost their competitiveness.  In the 1980s, this city of over 600,000 people began a transformation of its economy, backed by large-scale government investment in redevelopment.

2002   calgary_small.jpg  

Calgary, Alberta, Canada


  Calgary is a western city of 900,000 people that is one of the fastest-growing communities in Canada.  Leading the charge to build a Digital Age economy for the community is the public-private corporation, Calgary Technologies.  Its projects include Calgary INFOPORT, the Calgary Innovation Center, and the Alastair Ross Technology Center incubator.

Seoul, South Korea


  In 2001, Frost & Sullivan named South Korea the world’s leader in broadband deployment, and Seoul, the capital and primary population center, is the hotbed of the phenomenon.  Residents have been inculcated with the “broadband lifestyle,” according to Frost & Sullivan, and spend an average of 13 hours on the Internet each week. 

2001   newyorkcity_small.jpg  

New York, NY, USA


  The US capital of finance, publishing and broadcast television, New York launched investments in the late 1990s to build a digital economy.  In 1995, the city created a venture fund, the Plug ‘n’ Go program, which offered affordable, pre-wired, Internet-ready office space to young companies, and “Digital New York: Wired to the World,” which provides seed funding to create new high-tech clusters in the rest of the city outside Manhattan. 

2000   lagrange_small.jpg  

LaGrange, Georgia, USA


  The city negotiated a deal in the 1990s that motivated a cable TV company to develop a state-of-the-art broadband network.  The city issued a municipal bond to fund network construction under an agreement in which the cable carrier leased back the network for its own use, with payments covering the debt service on the bond.  The city retained a percentage of bandwidth for its own use, and went on to become a network and IT services provider to communities throughout the county.

1999   singapore_small.jpg  



  ICF named Singapore as its first Intelligent Community of the Year in 1999 for its ambitious plan for the Singapore One project beginning in 1998.  The aim was to provide every citizen and business with a high-speed Internet connection, and to foster the development of an online economy benefiting all of its citizens.


Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.