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The Smart21 Communities of 2011

The 2011 Smart21 - listed below in alphabetical order - highlights communities from 12 nations and includes 7 that appeared on last year’s list.  Two communities, Issy-les-Moulineaux and Northeast Ohio, returned to the list after a 1-2 year absence.   There were two Chinese, one Indian and one Australian communities on the list, as well as six from the USA, four from Canada and one each from the UK, France, Hungary and Brazil.    








The UK’s second largest city, Birmingham is a study in contrasts that reflects a dramatic history.  It was one of the leading cities of the Industrial Revolution but the devastating decline of manufacturing caused employment to collapse by 200,000 from 1971 to 1984, before a major renewal program grew service-sector employment to 85% of the total while manufacturing shrank to 11%.  Today, Birmingham is home to major universities and has nearly half its workforce employed in knowledge-intensive industries.  But less than a quarter of residents work in these industries, while half of residents live in some of the most deprived neighborhoods in the country.  To spur the next wave of growth, the Digital Birmingham partnership is driving an effort to improve connectivity with development of a fiber-based Digital District.  They are building digital skills with training programs in libraries, computers in low-income homes, and broadband build-outs in Council housing.  Birmingham Science City is building a research cluster focusing on advanced materials, sustainable energy and advanced medicine.  One of the UK’s largest government re-engineering programs promises to achieve £1bn in efficiency gain, while city hospitals are pioneering in wireless decision support systems and digital media education programs for patients and staff.  www.birmingham.gov.uk  

United Kingdom

Chattanooga, Tennessee
In 1969, the US government cited Chattanooga as the city with America’s dirtiest air, the product of decades of economic growth as home to foundries and other heavy manufacturers.  In response, the City Council joined with local companies and physicians to create a pollution control board that led to $10m in private-sector air-quality investments.  When heavy manufacturing declined in the 70s and 80s, the same spirit of partnership and the support of local foundations led to a decade of transformative downtown revitalization projects.  While the projects changed the community’s self-image, however, they were not enough to spark economic revival.  To address this challenge, the business, academic and governmental leadership pressed forward on multiple fronts.  The city-owned electric utility built a fiber network that will collect billions of data points and provide real-time management that will significantly boost the grid’s reliability and performance.   It will also extend ultra-high-speed broadband to 170,000 homes and businesses.  The city set new, higher standards for secondary education with integrated career training.  State colleges and universities introduced a wide range of technical degree programs and institutes tailored to Chattanooga’s industries. And incubators and innovation programs from the Chamber of Commerce and a local foundation are stimulating and accelerating start-ups in ICT and the arts.  www.chattanooga.gov

United States of America

Located on the Yangtze River in Sichuan province, Chongqing was once known for its isolation behind high mountains, which led Chiang Kai-shek to make it his wartime capital.  In 1983, Chongqing became the country’s first inland port open to foreign trade and was authorized to experiment with liberal economic policies.  With the construction of the Three Gorges Dam nearby, Chongqing was named a “direct city” in 1997, joining Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai in independence from provincial government.  Under its aggressive and popular Mayor Bo ilai, the city has grown explosively since then.  In 1998, its GDP was $21 billion; by 2009, it had grown fourfold to $86bn, twice the growth rate of China as a whole.  Fully 90% of the industrial goods manufactured there are sold in China.  The city is investing heavily in its future by expanding rail lines, highways, the airport and digital infrastructure. Hewlett-Packard has a call center in Chongqing and plans a laptop factory.  Chongqing attracts more direct foreign investment than any other city in central or western China - $2.7 billion in 2008 alone.  www.cq.gov.cn

China 32,000,000

Curitiba, Paraná
Few places on earth so convincingly demonstrate the power of enlightened urban planning over time as this city on Brazil’s high agricultural plains.  It has a per-capita income 86% higher than the Brazilian average, thriving industrial and tourist sectors, and an exploding technology offshoring industry experiencing a 40% annual growth.  More than 3,500 companies offer services including IT infrastructure, software development, technical support, systems implementation and enterprise applications.  From 1975 to 1995, its GDP grew nearly 50% more than the national average.  Yet while other Brazilian cities have welcomed heavy industry, Curitiba accepted only non-polluters and developed an industrial district with so much green space that it was derided as a “golf course” until it filled up with major businesses. Beginning in the 1970s, the master plan laid out streets, public transportation, shopping, industrial and residential areas.  Today, the city offers a range of services still rare in emerging markets: municipal healthcare, education and daycare networks, neighborhood libraries, and sports and culture facilities near mass transport terminals.  City buses travel in separate lanes from the rest of traffic and provide electronic ticketing for riders and fleet management via 3G mobile broadband.   Brazil’s oldest university, the Federal University of Parana, is one of 55 college-level institutions in the city.  www.curitiba.pr.gov.br

Brazil 1,800,000

Dakota County, Minnesota
Stretching from the Minneapolis-St. Paul border on the north to rural areas in the south, Dakota County (a 2010 Smart21 Community) built a diversified economy in manufacturing, information technology and food/energy/chemicals and a robust housing market.  When the financial crisis slammed the economy, the county responded by accelerating collaboration among community colleges, businesses and government to significantly boost its share of knowledge-based businesses – particularly the entrepreneurial companies that power sustainable job growth – and to expand the skilled labor pool through education and retraining.  Most of the county has been well served by commercial carriers and enjoys 74% residential broadband penetration and 95-100% penetration of business and education.  Rural areas remain a challenge being addressed with the help of local foundations.  The data centers of multinational companies also form the core of a growing ICT cluster, and medical devices and logistics are emerging areas.  The public-private effort has already helped generate new ICT-dependent  jobs equal to 8% of the total population, and a task force of citizens, businesses, institutions and government led by nonprofit Dakota Future is charting a path to faster, sustainable growth.   www.dakotafuture.com
United States of America

Danville, Virginia
Forty years ago, Danville was the economic powerhouse of south-central Virginia.  One by one, however, its leading industries waned, from textiles to tobacco, and by the start of the 21st Century, the community had a 15% unemployment rate and a workforce by low educational attainment and modest incomes.  In response, the city-owned electric utility launched the nDanville open-access fiber network to bring world-class connectivity to business and government.  Danville (a 2010 Smart21) developed the fiber infrastructure – now 125 miles in length – while leaving it to private-sector providers to deliver services.   With all government and school facilities plus 150 businesses on the network, it is now financially self-sustaining.  The city partnered with county government to develop a business incubator and with Virginia Tech to build a new research institute.  A high-tech secondary school called Galileo has set a new standard in educational achievement and changed the educational climate.  Danville Community College now has more than 6000 students enrolled at any given time and sends more than 90% of its graduates into jobs in their field of study.  This range of projects has helped rebuild an entrepreneurial base of new employers, while business attraction efforts have brought into Danville Ikea’s first North American manufacturing plant and a new data center housed in an old mill building.  www.danville-va.gov

United States of America

Dublin, Ohio 
In Dublin, the average resident is between 35 and 45 years of age and eighty percent have a university degree.  Home to Fortune 500 companies including Wendy’s, Ashland, and Cardinal Health, Dublin (a 2008 and 2009 Smart21, and 2010 Top Seven) is determined to maintain its edge in a hyper-competitive global economy.  A strategic planning exercise led Dublin to install underground conduits to encourage fiber-optic deployment.  This became DubLink, a public-private fiber network for business, government and schools, which spurred aggressive roll-out of e-government services from digital filing of taxes to Dublin TV online video channels.  In partnership with the Ohio Supercomputer Center, DubLink has created a research network linking regional schools, universities and hospitals.  An all-Dublin wireless network has extended coverage to provide cost-saving service automation to the city and a platform for service providers to reach customers.  Dublin also uses the availability of dark fiber to attract employers like OhioHealth and the Online Computer Library Center, and drives innovation in partnership with a nonprofit that has accelerated the growth of 50 local companies.  The surge of entrepreneurship has created an economy in which, despite a number of very large companies, the average Dublin business employs just seven people.   www.dublin.oh.us

United States of America

Eindhoven (a 2008 Smart21 and 2009-2010 Top Seven) is a metro area containing the cities of Eindhoven,Helmond and Veldhoven, which has long been the industrial heart of the Netherlands.  Recent decades have not been kind to manufacturing in developed nations, but Eindhoven has kept its edge through Brainport, a model public-private program that has turned the region into an open innovation platform.  Executing a strategy approved by its member organizations, Brainport works to identify their strengths, weaknesses, needs and gaps, then develops joint projects using ICT to meet social challenges, sharpen citizen skills and business competitiveness, and create business opportunities that keep the income in the region.  Among dozens of projects are an award-winning co-op that has brought FTTP and a broadband culture of use to the suburb of Neunen; the SKOOL outsourced IT management system for public schools; the remote home health care program Viedome; a revolutionary monitoring and e-learning system that keeps a major truck manufacturer’s vehicles on the road; and the Technific campaign, which promotes technology and tech education.  This consistent effort has added 55,000 jobs to the economy in the past 10 years, lowered unemployment below the Dutch average in most years, nearly quadrupled high-tech start-ups since 2000, and helped the region weather the financial crisis.  www.brainport.nl

Netherlands 297,000

Ipswich, Queensland
The oldest city in the state of Queensland, Ipswich is now seeing a renewal of the mining and industrial economy that powered its success from the mid-19th Century to the wave of industrial decline in the 70s and 80s, when it became famous in Australia for long-term unemployment.  Some of that success is due to China’s hunger for raw materials to feed its surging economy. But most is the product of concerted action by Ipswich’s leaders to create a modern, ICT-centric economy.  Responding to the post-industrial crisis, city leaders launched long-term and successful efforts to attract two universities to the community , create new retail developments, and develop a planned mixed-use community with a data center and fiber network at its heart.  Research showed that the rest of Ipswich was poorly served with broadband, and the city introduced a 20-year InfoCity Plan while simultaneously – and successfully – lobbying Australia’s National Broadband Plan to locate two of its 19 initial rollouts in the region.  The research and lobbying effort, in which Ipswich partnered with several regional communities, made citizens aware of the importance of ICT to the community’s future, and led to the creation of digital skills training courses and public access facilities for youth and adults.  A second ICT-centric planned community is in development, complementing the eight major industrial parks in the city, and unemployment, once in double digits, is now at 4.3%.  www.ipswich.qld.gov.au

Australia 170,000

Issy-les-Moulineaux (a 2005, 2007 and 2009 Top Seven) became the industrial zone of Paris in the 20th Century only to suffer de-industrialization in the post-war years.  Beginning in 1980, a visionary mayor determined to make his city home to innovative, ICT-based companies employing a high-quality, knowledge-based workforce.  His strategy focused on creating an ICT-centric ecosystem that leading-edge companies would find attractive.  Issy implemented e-government, outsourced its IT requirements and worked with new telecom carriers in advance of liberalization to bring business and residents local choice in communications as soon as a new telecom law took effect in 1998.  Competition has spurred further private investment in FTTP at up to 100 Mbps and free WiFi.  Public-private innovation includes a cyber-kindergarten for children, cyber tearooms for older citizens, citizen e-participation in decision-making, a successful business incubator and ICT-based real estate projects.  The strategy was a success with business, with 60% of employers now in ICT and digital media, and also with the public, an overwhelming majority of whom believe that the Internet has changed their lives for the better.  With 1,500 employers providing 70,000 jobs today, Issy now has more career positions than residents.   www.issy.com


Jaipur, Rajasthan
The urban core of Jaipur sprang from the mind of the Maharja’s architect in the 1700s, when it was founded as the capital of a princely state.  Infrastructure has been a focus there ever since, and Jaipur is distinguished from most Indian cities by its modern road network, efficient airport and dozens of colleges, institutes and universities.  State and national governments have financed major upgrades to the electrical grid as well as big build-outs of broadband infrastructure.  Its diverse manufacturing sector is the largest exporter of gold, diamond and stone jewelry in Asia but also produces a wide variety of consumer and industrial goods.  But what may distinguish Jaipur most is a bottom-up economic development strategy led by technology entrepreneurs.  Mentored by Naren Bakshi, a retired serial entrepreneur, local tech entrepreneurs have banded together to boost tech-led growth in the region. They have educated state and local officials on the vital importance of technology, leading to the overturning of regulations that classified computers as luxury good and that banned women from working after sunset.  Their networking group now includes more than 100 companies employing hundreds of people.  Emboldened by their example, traditional industries have adopted ICT to make themselves globally competitive, and India’s largest tech firms as well as financial institutions have located hubs in the region.  www.jaipur.nic.in

India 3,200,000

Northeast Ohio
A 24-county region whose northern border rests on Lake Erie, Northeast Ohio was America’s industrial heartland in the 19th and early 20th Centuries.  Its largest cities are Cleveland, Akron and Canton.  De-industrialization in the 70s and 80s hollowed out the economy and left a large, low-skilled class of urban poor in its major cities.  But history also bequeathed the region an array of well-endowed nonprofits, outstanding universities and hospitals, and hundreds of miles of dark optical fiber installed during the Internet boom.  These assets were brought together in a new nonprofit called OneCommunity, which acquired fiber from carriers and developed it into a cooperative ultrabroadband network used by its government and institutional members throughout the region.  But OneCommunity has become much more than a network operator saving its members money. It has raised hundreds of millions of dollars from foundations and government – including Federal broadband stimulus funds – and is using it to educate community and state officials on broadband-enabled economic development.  It is providing digital skills training for tens of thousands of the digitally excluded.  It has facilitated the creation of venture funds and business accelerators to rekindle the innovation engine that drove the region’s past success.  Through OneCommunity, the foundation, business, educational, healthcare and government leaders of the region have created a means to leverage individual projects into region-wide success.  www.onecommunity.org

United States of America

Quebec City, Quebec
The capital of this French-speaking Canadian province has long relied on provincial government to be the mainstay of its economy.  Almost 10% of the labor force works directly for the Province today, and the indirect impacts of this employment are much greater.  But as far back as the 1980s, business, government and academia realized that the city needed a more diverse economy with a strong technology sector, which accounted for only 3.3% of high-tech employment at the end of the last century.  In 1998, Quebec City introduced a new development strategy and began pushing forward on broadband, technology workforce development and digital inclusion. By 2010, a competitive carrier had deployed broadband to 80% of the metro area, and two incumbents announced a combined C$500m investment in fiber-to-the-premises networks. A public-private partnership opened the National School of Interactive Entertainment to support the growing games and multimedia sector, while the Beauce school of Entrepreneurship welcomed its first students.  Another government-business partnership is focusing on attracting high-skills immigrants.  Quebec’s Laval University is expanding its research programs in social innovation, biophotonics and geomatics.  The nonprofit ZAP Quebec has collaborated with commercial and institutional partners to deploy free wireless Internet access and offer applications such as Foursquare to serve the city’s retail base.  www.ville.quebec.qc.ca/en
  Canada   545,000


Riverside, California 
Located 60 miles from Los Angeles and Palm Springs, Riverside is a bedroom community and university town, home to four colleges and universities.  It is also an agricultural community and a warehousing and transportation hub.  But none of these industries has provided Riverside (a 2010 Smart21) with sustainable growth.  Today, the city is building a tech-based economy that seizes the opportunities of the broadband revolution.  A Smart Riverside nonprofit led by CIO Steve Reneker focuses on technology initiatives, and a CEO Forum of local tech companies has produced a plan for tech-based transformation.  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.  The city serves as the anchor tenant, but the network offers low-speed WiFi access free to residents as well as paid tiers.  Ten percent of Riverside residents are poor, and bridging the educational and digital gap is a major priority.  Any family that completes a training class can receive a free PC refurbished by reformed gang members, which has made Riverside’s Project Bridge the largest collector of “e-waste” in the region.  Meanwhile, 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. The city hosts the Inland Empire Technology Week to provide a local focus on innovation while marketing the city’s strengths to the region.  

United States of America

Shanghai has been a major port at the mouth of the Yangtze River since it was opened to foreign trade in 1842.  By the 1930s, it was an Asian hub of finance and commerce.  But its current path was set in the 1990s, when the reforms of Deng Xiaoping made it one of China’s four “direct cities,” operating free from provincial rule, and liberated its private-sector economy.  The non-state sector now generates 42% of the city’s GDP, which has grown at double-digit rates since 1992.  Today, Shanghai is one of the world’s largest cities by population and the second busiest port in the world.  Already home to over 30 major industrial parks, it is engaged in a development boom of historic proportions.  The infrastructure includes broadband via wireless, copper and optical fiber.  The Shanghai Medical University is a pioneer in telehealth in China and supports remote consultation and education in more than 20 provinces.  More than 30 large multinationals have located wholly-owned R&D centers there because of the city’s rich knowledge assets, competitive market, existing IT cluster.  The centers are producing new spin-off companies, new university-business research ventures and an overall increase in the skill levels of Chinese engineers and researchers.  www.shanghai.gov.cn



Sopron is the urban center in the northeast corner of Hungary, which borders four other nations and transits 60% of the nation’s cross-border trade.  The country’s most industrialized region, it has felt the cold winds of recession blow, leaving it with an unemployment rate above 8%.  Sopron is strong in manufacturing heavy goods, chemicals, automotive, wood and agricultural products but produces less than 1% of GDP from research & development.  The community is on a mission to build a more diverse, knowledge-based economy.  Broadband deployment is well advanced and is providing a platform for the creation of a knowledge-based workforce.  Collaboration between local government and the University of Sopron have led to creation of the Sopron Innovation Park, which features Cisco’s latest IP infrastructure.  An Environmental Knowledge and Competence Center founded in 2004 is expanding the community’s research base in sustainability, while a Regional Innovation Agency conducts a major benchmarking exercise every 2 years to assess progress in R&D, innovation and higher education.  http://portal.sopron.hu/Sopron/portal/english

Hungary 59,000

Stratford, Ontario
Since its founding as a mill town in the 1800s, Stratford been a crossroads where agriculture, industry and culture meet.  It has been the home to Canada’s largest furniture industry but also a railroad town and contributor to southern Ontario’s growth as a workshop of the automotive industry.  Since 1952, it has also been home to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, now in its 57th season, which is the largest employer in town and generates C$135m in local economic activity.  Neither manufacturing nor cultural tourism, however, have provided a stable and sustainable economic base, and Stratford has taken major steps to create a 21st Century economy.  A city-owned company has laid 60 km of optical fiber and used it as the backbone of a public WiFi network.  The University of Waterloo has opened a Stratford campus offering a Masters of Business Entrepreneurship and Technology program.  This has given rise to the Stratford Institute, a think tank focusing on digital media.  A local filmmaker is using a C$4m grant to create a digital media editing center for secondary school students and piloting digital media programs in schools and libraries, all intended to leverage the high-quality content created by the Shakespeare Festival.  Broadband and IT have also addressed the challenges of rural healthcare.  Eighty percent of Stratford’s family physicians are on a broadband e-health portal for health records, administration and after-hours care, which has helped ease the region’s shortage of family practitioners.  www.city.stratford.on.ca
  Canada   32,000


Taoyuan County
Taoyuan County is home to the international airport serving Taipei, the nation’s capital.  Driven by proximity to an airport that handles 60% of all Taiwan’s air transport, Taoyuan (a 2009-2010 Smart21) has built a strong economy based on manufacturing and distribution.  But it faces powerful competition from Taipei and is very sensitive to the business cycle.  A recession in early 2000 closed more than 2,000 factories and drove unemployment to 5.3%.  The current recession is having a greater impact, with forecasts of an 8% decline in the nation’s economic output.  Led by an activist governor, however, Taoyuan in engaged in a major exercise, called Aerotropolis, to make its economy more robust and improve its quality of living through ICT.  An E-Taoyuan program launched in 2001 brought the efficiencies of e-government to the county, as well as introducing ICT into classrooms, public transport and public safety.  The M-Taoyuan program begun in 2007 is taking e-government mobile in a WiMAX corridor covering the core of the metro area, with real-time traffic analysis, remote monitoring, mobile distribution of information to the public and access to resources for government workers on the go.  The next step will be U-Taoyuan, part of a national Intelligent Taiwan project, that will focus on ubiquitous digital services for aviation, shipping and other businesses, as well as on weaving digital services seamlessly into the lives of all residents.    www.tycg.gov.tw/eng

Taiwan 1,950,000

The birthplace of Aesculapius, the father of Western medicine, Trikala (a 2009-2010 Smart21) is the center of an agricultural region in central Greece.  In 2004, Greece's Ministry of Economics named it the nation's first digital city.  It was a bold statement in a nation where, in 2009, broadband penetration averaged below 16%.  But in 2007, Trikala lit a fiber network linking 40 buildings and formed, with neighboring communities, a cooperative called e-Trikala to operate it.  By 2010, e-Trikala had installed 30 wireless nodes via fiber and wireless mesh to create a network covering most of the city.  E-Trikala focuses on introducing ICT to businesses and citizens, and it has emphasized e-government services that affect people’s lives.  Edialogos is an online exchange for ideas and opinions on issues posed by city government.  A telehealth platform uses broadband and mobile systems to monitor and support the elderly, disabled and chronically ill.  Wireless and GPS combine to provide location information on buses and e-ticketing.  With no institutions of higher learning, Trikala cannot leverage universities to create new companies.  But it has connected with universities throughout Greece to encourage graduate research into the digital city program.  The city has also reached agreement with Technopolis SA to found an incubator in Trikala.  With its unemployment rate barely affected by recession, Trikala is preparing to advance from a city of “knowledge citizens” to one of knowledge workers. 

Greece 75,500

Windsor-Essex, Ontario 
Located directly across the river from Detroit, Michigan, Windsor shares its pain.  Automobile assembly, research and technology contribute C$30bn to the local economy but are in structural decline greatly accelerated by the current recession. Working in partnership with Essex County government, however, Windsor is crafting a new, more robust economy to take its place.  Assets include strong tourism and agriculture industries (which sometimes overlap, as in the case of the area’s many wineries), the presence of the University of Windsor and national and provincial government support.  The university is using funding from the province to build an innovation center for engineering research as well as a virtual incubator serving the region.  The Odette School of Business has restructured its many programs to deliver MBA-level education faster and mentor small manufacturers.  A cooperative fiber network, WEDnet, meets the needs of governmental, institutional and educational facilities throughout the region and Windsor-Essex (a 2010 Smart21) is partnering with other communities to extend broadband to people in underserved rural areas.  Government has collaborated with business to create a software technology alliance to attract entrepreneurs, mentor existing businesses and share resources for growth.  A public-private business mentoring group is working to pool the resources of angel investors in order to increase the amount of seed capital available to start-ups. www.windsor-essex.info    www.citywindsor.ca    www.countyofessex.on.ca

Canada 393,400

Winnipeg, Manitoba
The city of Winnipeg dominates the rural province of Manitoba, containing 62% of its population and producing 64% of its GDP. It is a city with a diversified economy, from finance to manufacturing to tourism, which has succeeded in building successful clusters in information technology and life sciences. Determined to keep pace with global competition, community leaders have identified as key challenges an increasing shortage of qualified workers and shortfalls in its ecosystem for innovation, including scarcity of risk capital. Its solution involves a substantial boost in the digital inclusion of its aboriginal or First Nations population, which makes up 8% of the total but is the second fast-growing ethnic group. With broadband already available to 85% of premises, a new Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund is helping community-based ISPs to extend coverage to 67 rural towns and villages. The University of Winnipeg has developed a diploma program specifically designed to prepare people of First Nation descent for entry-level jobs in IT, while an association of IT companies is bringing ICT education to aboriginal students in urban and rural secondary schools. To boost the success rate of start-ups, Winnipeg has partnered with outside organizations to open life sciences research institutes in the city, developed a Smart Park and start-up incubator, and founded a research accelerator that has helped produce 23 patents and 46 industry-commercialized technologies. www.winnipeg.ca
  Canada   742,000

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