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The Smart21 Communities of 2013

clientuploads/Images/Smart21-Logo2-NbrOnly.gifThe 2013 Smart21 honorees - listed below in alphabetical order - include communities from twelve nations.  About half are communities that appear on the list for the first time.  Of the 2013 list, 13 have appeared among the Smart21 before, which is typical of the ICF’s awards programs, as communities make progress in their quest to be named Intelligent Community of the Year. 

AMERICAS
Columbus, Ohio, USA
Kingston, Ontario, Canada
Mitchell, South Dakota, USA
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Stratford, Ontario, Canada
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
EUROPE
Castelo de Vide, Portugal
Heraklion, Crete, Greece
Oulu, Finland
Tallinn, Estonia
Tirana, Albania
ASIA-PACIFIC
Ballarat, Victoria, Australia
Hsinchu City, Taiwan
Jiading New City, China
Prospect, So Australia, Australia
Taichung City, Taiwan
Taoyuan County, Taiwan
Wanganui, New Zealand
Whittlesea, Victoria, Austraila

 

  clientuploads/Images/Smart21Map 2013 650.gif

Community

  Country

  Population

         

Ballarat, Victoria
The third-largest city in the state of Victoria, Ballarat once was a mineral and agricultural boom town, but global market changes decimated its economy in the 1990s and drove unemployment to nearly 20%.  In response, city government, community leaders and the state collaborated on a long-term economic development plan focusing on attracting ICT companies, leveraging higher education and fostering digital inclusion.  Today, Ballarat has the largest technology park in Australia, home to 30 companies employing 1,400 people.  Broadband penetration, at only 53% of homes, is poised to accelerate through early roll-out of Australia’s National Broadband Network.  Local ICT champions, working with the city’s universities, have helped spawn a wave of startups and research institutes. The community has also invested in its at-risk youth and indigenous population with specialized training in skills and digital literacy to equip them for success in the new economy.  www.ballarat.vic.gov.au

  Australia
  95,000

 
 

Castelo de Vide
This inland community, bordering Spain, has suffered the fate of many small, rural communities.  As young people left in search of opportunity, its population gradually shrank and its economic base eroded.  Tourism based on its 500-year history became Castelo de Vide’s most important industry, but the community was hard-pressed to compete with coastal cities and towns to the west.  To create a sustainable future, the city decided to re-connect its economy to the world.  It developed a wireless broadband network to serve businesses, citizens and tourists and put its municipal IT “into the cloud” to reduce costs and expand capabilities.  This new infrastructure has made the community more attractive to residents from nearby cities who seek a higher quality of life.  Castelo de Vide has also succeeded in attracting numerous film and television productions, which can take advantage of its unspoiled beauty while remaining connected to the network.  The city’s newest project is the City of Books, which will provide local booksellers with an online sales portal while providing a hub for Portuguese and Spanish publishers to distribute their products and build an audience.  www.cm-castelo-vide.pt

  Portugal
  3,400

 
 

Columbus, Ohio
With an economically and racially diverse population, the city trails the US average in terms of per capita income, but has America’s highest concentration of Fortune 1000 companies per capita.  Being the state capital has helped but the success of Columbus has been forged through collaboration among city government, academic institutions, businesses and nonprofits.  Government has reduced spending in the recession but also raised taxes to fund development.  Business and institutional leaders have created nonprofits that engage in downtown development, education, healthcare and cultural projects, as well as the public-private TechColumbus, which works to leverage the region’s research and technology assets into startup companies.  Ohio State University has re-energized its technology transfer office and holds monthly forums for entrepreneurs, while joining forces with Ohio University to create a venture capital fund.  Columbus is also reaching out to neighboring municipalities, including Top7 Dublin, to collaborate on building a broadband ecosystem serving the entire region.  Having added 15,000 net new jobs in the last decade, the Columbus metro region is one of few old industrial regions to reverse a “brain drain” and, in 2007-2009, show net in-migration for the first time in decades.  www.columbus.gov

  United States
  787,000

 
 

Heraklion, Crete
The capital of the island of Crete, Heraklion has only recently emerged from Greece’s turbulent past to become a player in the global economy.  With an economy heavily dependent on tourism and agriculture, it lagged behind Europe in technology, digital literacy and broadband penetration.  But Heraklion has charted a different course for its future.  Today, it is home to the Science and Technology Park of Crete and one of Europe’s top research centers, the Foundation for Research and Technology.  Four telecom providers and a free wireless overlay network have made broadband available to nearly 100% of the population and residential penetration has surpassed 50%.  The municipality has also built a fiber network to connect hundreds of government locations, while the University of Crete has connected the island's schools.  The city has also made substantial investments in e-government services and established digital skills training centers.  To promote innovation, the University of Crete works with the Chamber of Commerce and government to identify training needs, connect graduates to job opportunities, and provide consultation for both young entrepreneurs and job seekers.  The University Students Entrepreneurship Program focuses on educating students in business startup and providing a lab environment for the prototyping and testing of new products and services.  Innovations like these are setting a new standard for Greece and moving Heraklion into the broadband economy.  www.heraklion.gr 

  Greece   150,000

 
 

Hsinchu City
The start of the financial crisis in 2008 hit Hsinchu City hard.  Home to Hsinchu Science Park and many of the world’s leading chip foundries, the city saw thousands and layoffs and tens of thousands put on temporary unpaid leave as demand slackened.  While waiting for that industry to recover, however, the community stayed the course on large-scale investments made in alliance with major companies and national government.  A partnership with Global Mobile Corp. has already made WiMAX wireless broadband available in 97% of the city, while Chungwha Telecom, under a national program called M-Taiwan, has extended an FTTP network to one-third of potential customers.  The local technology economy continues to be driven by close relationships between companies and Hsinchu City’s universities and research institutes.  City government has also driven technology into the community with multi-function smart cards that give citizens access to services, online library access and surveillance systems that use sophisticated image processing to identify risks and alert law enforcement and public safety to potential problems.  Despite its challenges, Hsinchu Science Park has generated US$1.37 billion in turnover in the past five years, and the city’s bets on its future seem likely to pay off.  http://en.hccg.gov.tw  

  Taiwan
  420,000

 
 

Jiading New City
Political reforms beginning in the 1990s unleashed the economic potential of Shanghai, one of China’s most important seaports, and helped create the megacity of today with its population of over 23 million.  Jiading is the northernmost of 17 districts of Shanghai and home to the city’s Grand Prix racetrack.  But the district has begun a different kind of race: to create a new satellite community of one million people that will set a standard in China for quality of life.  Moving at the high speed of development in the Middle Kingdom, Jiading New City is already home to the regional headquarters of major Chinese companies, schools, hospitals, hotels, rail and bus lines as well as housing.  A ubiquitous wireless network is being deployed to provide broadband.  Yet for all its advanced infrastructure, Jiading New City encompasses one hundred parks, a network of lakes and rivers and a forest belt that takes up 40% of its land.  Already called China’s “most livable city,” Jiading New District aims to become an important destination where the dynamism of China connects to the global economy.  http://english.jiading.gov.cn  

  China
  538,000

 
 

Kingston, Ontario
A midsize city in rural Canada, Kingston is ranked as one of Canada's six best places to live.  Its economy is based on healthcare, education, government and tourism.  These are industries, however, that largely recycle money already circulating in the local economy rather than bringing in more from outside.  To address this strategic problem, Kingston has focused on creating a 21st Century infrastructure and building an advanced manufacturing base on it.  The city-owned utility has developed a +1,000 km fiber and wireless network to blanket the community and surrounding counties, which serves government facilities and major employers directly and sells bulk capacity to ISPs.  Leveraging the presence of multiple universities, Kingston has founded an Innovation Park and PARTIEQ Innovations office to turn intellectual property into new businesses.  Fifty organizations working from the park focus on alternative energy, biotechnology, medical devices and information and communications technologies.  A new wind farm, located across the harbor from Kingston, is contributing 198 megawatts to the local grid.  The city's success has led to a local skills shortage, and Kingston is now focused on educational innovation in its public schools to develop the next generation of successful citizens. www.cityofkingston.ca 

  Canada
  160,000

 
 

Mitchell, South Dakota
This rural city on the plains of South Dakota is no stranger to the rural challenge of population loss, which began with the mechanization of agriculture in the 1930s.  It is the largest city in an area that has lost 30% of its population over the past 70 years.  But Mitchell has carved out a sharply different destiny.  With a willing private communications company and a broadband stimulus grant, Mitchell has developed an FTTP network serving every business and residence.  Its university and technical school have leveraged the city’s agricultural heritage into academic leadership in “precision farming.”  As part of a strategic plan called Focus 2020, both engage closely with city government, business, primary and secondary schools and a major hospital to promote digital literacy and supply the highly trained workforce in increasing demand by area businesses.  These include growing software companies, data centers, customer service centers and communications consulting firms.  Mitchell’s master plan concentrates on education, healthcare, infrastructure and efficient government as the keys to maintaining quality of life while promoting the best possible business environment.  Alone in its region, Mitchell has held onto its population and even achieved modest growth, and so faces the new century with new confidence.  www.cityofmitchell.org 

  United States
  15,000

 
 

Oulu
The mobile communications business has been good to Oulu, and the mobile business has become a threat to its future.  This former industrial city located 200 km south of the Arctic Circle built a tech-based economy in the Eighties around the Nokia Research Center and numerous small-to-midsize enterprises (SMEs) specializing in mobile technologies, many located at the Oulu Technology Park.  The “Nokia risk” as Oulu’s leaders called it, materialized in the new century as the company failed to adapt to the rise of the smartphone and began to downsize its operations.  Yet Oulu has created 18,000 new high-tech jobs since 2007, thanks to a decades-old culture of public-private collaboration and its many high-quality educational institutions, including the University of Oulu with its 16,000 students.  The city has built ICT assets such as the PanOULU free wireless network and an e-government Web portal for citizens.  In collaboration with the university and business, it has fostered multiple R&D institutes from the Center for Internet Excellence to Oulu Living Labs, where a broad range of technologies are researched and developed before being tested by residents who volunteer their time and expertise.  Whatever the fortunes of its biggest mobile technology employer, Oulu is determined to be a quiet leader in the technologies that will shape our century.  www.businessoulu.com  

  Finland   188,000

 
 

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
America’s first capital, Philadelphia is still the nation’s fifth largest city, but far from its most prosperous.  Like other old industrial cities, it suffered decades of decline as automation and globalization eliminated low-skilled employment.  Today, 51% of jobs in Philadelphia require a university degree but only 22% of Philadelphians possess one.  Though it is home to dozens of universities and thriving service businesses, the city has a poverty rate of almost 27%.  When he took office in 2008, Mayor Michael Nutter pledged to double the percentage of young people who attended university.  Since then, city government has marshaled local and national resources in an effort to break the cycle of low achievement and economic exclusion.  Nearly half of Philadelphians lack Internet access at home.  Having identified broadband as an essential utility in its master plan, the city assembled a coalition of health, social service and community development organizations called the Freedom Rings Partnership.  The group successfully applied for broadband stimulus funding, which has been applied to the development of 77 KEYSPOTS digital inclusion centers in low-income neighborhoods.  Each provides access to technology, digital skills education and training in such essentials as job interviewing and keeping a job.  Together, they have served 165,000 participants, with an impact that often reaches far beyond basic digital literacy.  Other public and private investment has gone into redevelopment of the Navy Yard into a green industries park and America’s largest urban solar farm, as well as early development of a learning management system for the public schools.  For Philadelphia, the payoff from these programs will be an increase in the percentage of its citizens that participate in the city’s economic success.     www.phila.gov

  United States
  1,500,000

 
 

Prospect, South Australia
This suburb of Adelaide shares the characteristics of “bedroom communities” around the world – a well-educated population with strong economic potential, most of which benefits its neighboring city more than the community itself.  Exploring the issue, the Council identified as the key limiting factor its 60-year-old copper telecom network, which was unable to support DSL and barely adequate in some areas for telephone service.  So began an aggressive effort to attract national and state investment to Prospect.  Effective lobbying led to the city’s designation, in October 2010, as a Stage Two roll-out site for Australia’s National Broadband Network, with optical fiber construction beginning in August 2012 and an estimated investment value of A$11 million. The Council also devoted its own budget to build a new fiber infrastructure for government and succeeded in persuading private carriers to fill gaps in wireless coverage and roll out 4G service.  To build a broadband culture of use, Prospect won Federal grants for programs to train SMEs and SOHOs in digital entrepreneurship and build a Community Digital Hub to demonstrate the full range of ICT to residents.  The focus on SOHOs is deliberate: Prospect has a strong home-based business community, half of whom are knowledge workers, and its economic development strategy aims to stimulate a wave of digital micro-businesses and telecommuters to capture more of the economic value generated by its people.  www.prospect.sa.gov.au  

  Australia   22,000

 
 

Rio de Janeiro
Once the capital of Brazil, Rio remains one of its most important cities, producing over 5% of national GDP, and is home to a broad range of industries from oil and shipbuilding to media and publishing.  Having been selected as the site of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics, Rio has embarked on a major effort to leverage its new prominence for the community’s long-term benefit.  Brazil has traditionally suffered from high economic inequality.  National government has tackled this problem with redistribution programs, and Rio has focused on bringing low-income citizens into the broadband economy.  A Knowledge Square program and Casa Rio Digital provide facilities, digital libraries, training courses and recreation space in low-income neighborhoods across the city, which have trained 60,000 people.  Forsoft is a six-month training program for secondary school graduates, which equips them to be entry-level computer programmers or network technicians.  Business partners agree to hire at least one third of each graduating class to help fill the thousands of IT vacancies in the area.  Competitions such as Rio Ideas and Rio Apps provide cash prizes to innovative software developers, while the city’s municipal fiber network is being opened to Rio’s many universities as well as providing the backbone for wireless broadband networks in underserved areas. By leveraging the potential of Rio’s people, the city aims to renew its standing as one of the world’s leading cities. www.rio.rj.gov.br 

  Brazil
  6,300,000

 
 

Stratford, Ontario
At the turn of the new century, Stratford had a reputation for being quaint, cultured and out of the way, home to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival and a 90-minute drive from Toronto, the business capital of eastern Canada.  In fact, Stratford had always been an industrial town as well as an agricultural center.  Strategic planning, beginning in 1997, has focused on preserving Stratford’s enviable quality of life while leveraging ICT to transform its economy.  For the past 15 years, a team led by Mayor Dan Mathieson has executed on that strategy with great intensity.  The city-owned utility has built out a 70-km open access fiber network with a WiFi overlay, and signed sales agreements with commercial carriers to deliver triple-play and mobile services.  The network enabled the Festival to significantly expand its online marketing, and plays a key role in the city’s tourism strategy, which builds on the Festival’s reputation to attract “foodies,” cyclists and other target groups throughout the year.  At the same time, the city has used the network to slash its own telecom costs and power a smart meter program.  Adopting the triple-helix approach to innovation, it has turned Stratford into a test bed for technology pilots for such companies as Toshiba, Research in Motion and Cisco, and institutions including Clemson University and the University of Waterloo (UWaterloo), springboard for Canada’s tech industry.  Digital media, however, is at the core of its strategy; the city persuaded UWaterloo to open a campus in Stratford with the support of OpenText to offer graduate and undergraduate studies and foster a startup culture.   The near-death of the North American auto industry pushed unemployment in Stratford to 7.9% as the city lost 1,600 mostly low-skilled jobs in manufacturing.  But the city also gained 700 jobs requiring ICT skills, and has recently seen the revival of automotive create a labor shortage for the higher-skilled manufacturing jobs it retains.  For an economy in transition, these trends are a serious validation that it is on the right track.   www.city.stratford.on.ca

  Canada   32,000

 
 

Taichung City
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.  The city and telecom companies partnered to create thousands of WiFi hotspots, fiber-based broadband and 4G WiMAX now reaching more than 90% of the population.  Through imaginative applications developed by public-private partnership, ICT has become a driver of greater global competitiveness.  The backbone of Taichung’s manufacturing economy is a network of 1,500 precision machinery makers and tens of thousands of SME suppliers.  Smaller companies now benefit from a shared, cloud-based ERP system that reduces their purchasing costs and time-to-market.  An RFID system at the port automates the clearing of shipping containers for exit, slashing the time trucks spend idling at the gate.  Taichung is also helping farmers apply ICT to improve yields and profitability while expanding their international markets.  To power this new economy, the city and its 17 colleges have created a truly lifelong learning system ranging from basic digital education and vocational training to advanced study and continuous skills improvement.  And Taichung is aggressively pursuing industrial clustering through development of the Central Taiwan Technology Corridor combining science parks, precision manufacturing parks and software parks to give physical shape to its global ambitions.  www.taichung.gov.tw

  Taiwan
  2,676,000

 
 

Tallinn
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.  Tallinn’s first wave of IT industry growth was driven by national government spending on an amazing range of e-government applications.  Its return to growth has a more sustainable basis in education and entrepreneurship.  With 23 universities and technical schools, Tallinn has the resources for a knowledge workforce; it has focused now on expanding access and filling demand for ICT and digital content skills.  From 2007 to 2011, Tallinn Technical University doubled participation in lifelong learning programs.  The city is expanding public access computer sites and training programs for the disconnected, while a public-private project called EstWin will extend 100 Mbps broadband throughout Estonia by 2015.  To support local startups and attract talent from beyond Estonia’s borders, Tallinn and its educational and business partners have launched multiple incubators targeting creative services, medical and biotech, mechatronics, and ICT.  Europe’s first gaming accelerator opened in Tallinn this year, and its Ülemiste City industrial estate is expanding 50% to house 250 companies, making it the Baltics’ biggest knowledge-based development.  When the crisis struck, Tallinn moved fast to launch aid packages to get residents and companies through the bad times with their skills and ambitions intact. The value of the city’s short-term response and its long-term strategy will be proven in coming years.  www.tallinn.info 

 

Estonia

  400,000

 
 

Taoyuan County
Home to the international airport serving Taipei, Taoyuan County is an industrial powerhouse, with more than 24 industrial parks, 44,000 companies and 10,000 factories.  Its employers are strong in logistics, aviation technology, semiconductors and opto-electronics as well as automotive accessories, textiles and foods.  The county is also home to 15 colleges and universities, which graduate 25,000 students every year.  With the youngest population in Taiwan, the county’s continuing challenge is to ensure that its residents have the skills employers need and that they can prosper in a global market where change is the only certainty.  It manages a massive effort connecting job-seekers with job opportunities, from employment offices to recruitment events, to fill hundreds of thousands of job opportunities opening yearly.  To upgrade the skills of traditional industrial workers and the unemployed, it offers vocational training as well as a range of digital literacy programs for all ages.  A new e-learning portal aims to provide every citizen a customized learning environment.  In 2011, the county introduced English instruction in first grade in its public schools to ensure that young people are fluent in the international language of business.  Taoyuan has also successfully encouraged business and universities to establish research institutions and incubation centers to drive fundamental research and commercialize new developments.  Broadband underpins this range of developments: the county has built an open-access conduit network for private carriers as well as a chain of WiFi hotspots.  And to build awareness of Taoyuan industries, the county has created a “Made in Taoyuan” brand, which it promotes to its own citizens as well as to markets throughout Asia.  www.tycg.gov.tw/eng

  Taiwan
  2,020,000

 
 

Tirana
With the collapse of Soviet rule over eastern Europe in the late 1990s, this capital city of one of the continent’s poorest countries set off on a perilous journey to the 21st Century.  Tirana is the commercial and manufacturing center of the country, with about half of all Albania companies and three-quarters of foreign-owned enterprises.  It is home to growing industries for footwear and clothing, agricultural products, mining, oil and gas, and tourism.  With low Internet penetration compared to the European Union, the country’s Internet market offers high growth potential.  In Tirana, broadband take-up is rising rapidly in response to increased availability and sharply lower prices.  The nation’s goal is to become a “cyber-hub” for the region, with broadband penetration equal to that of the EU and ICT becoming a leading sector of the economy. Tirana is home to Albania’s only business incubator and has seen a corresponding increase in startups in sectors including advertising, design, computer services, media and publishing.  The national development strategy focuses on expanding the small-to-midsize business base, including micro-enterprises, and fostering an entrepreneurial culture.  The Albanian government has invested substantially in e-government applications and has encouraged the private sector to offer digital services to customers, such as online banking.  And both Tirana and the nation are making strides: the World Bank Doing Business Indicators showed Albania advancing from 136th in 2007 to 82nd in 2010.  In 2009, it achieved the second-highest rank among the top 10 reformers worldwide.  Continued success will depend on implementing the right policies, successfully navigating the process of joining the European Union and making the most effective use of the resulting relationship.  www.tirana.gov.al 

  Albania   400,000

 
 

Toronto, Ontario
Canada’s largest city and financial capital, as well as the political capital of the Province of Ontario, Toronto is one of the world’s more successful places.  But it is also challenged to maintain its edge.  It has become the nation’s most expensive city and is experiencing an immigration-driven population surge that is expected to boost its population by 50% in less than 20 years.  That growth is already straining transportation systems: Toronto commuters travel longer round trips than any other commuters in the world.  The city, provincial and Federal governments are addressing these challenges with a development strategy stressing ICT, environmental sustainability and innovation.  A key component is Waterfront Toronto, North America’s largest urban renewal project, which is transforming a vast brownfield zone at the edge of Lake Ontario into a new city center with 40,000 residential units, one million sq. meters of commercial space and 300 hectares of parks.  A new center for knowledge industries in North America’s third-largest knowledge economy, it will be served by a 1 Gbps fiber-to-the-premise network and integrate green technologies and practices into every aspect of its design and operations.  But Waterfront Toronto is only the most ambitious of a range of programs that seek to keep the city’s edge sharp.  Five universities have evolved specialized programs in computer science and digital media as well as a graduate program that looks broadly at the power of ICT to drive economic, social and cultural change.  The MaRS Discovery District, George Brown College Gaming Incubator, Center for Global eHealth Innovation and Fashion Incubator have become “factories” for generating, incubating and accelerating innovative new businesses.  From Internet access and training in public libraries to a kids@computers program that funds technology for low-income families, Toronto is working to extend the benefits of its success to every part of society.  In the process, it is preparing citizens and businesses to compete and win in a global market.  www.toronto.ca  www.waterfronttoronto.ca

  Canada   2,678,000

 
 

Wanganui
Located on the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island, Wanganui has found itself on the wrong end of the worst trends of the 20th Century.  When the North Island’s major railroad line was built, it bypassed the city, which saw its thriving port dwindle as a result.  Incomes and educational achievement are now low by New Zealand standards.  Despite striking natural beauty, Wanangui has the ills of industrial decline, from an aging housing stock to youth gangs.  It also has been bypassed by the infrastructure of the 21st Century: residents pay almost twice as much for telecom service on aging copper infrastructure as the rest of the country.  Responding to challenge, Wanganui’s Mayor and Council devised and launched a strategy that aims to create a high-value economy, vibrant community and healthy environment.  The city and a private-sector partner successfully bid for A$35 million in national broadband development funding and have completed the first 50 miles of fiber and wireless network build-out to date.  Another partnership, with the local newspaper, produced a 3-day TechExpo for local businesses and residents, which introduced ICT to 10,000 visitors from around the country. Building on that foundation, the library system has made major ICT investments and supports nearly 300,000 user sessions per year, while numerous grassroots programs provide technology and training to low-income residents.  The city has invested in ICT to move government services to the cloud and has partnered with an incubator to bring startup support services to Wanganui.  A core of high-performing local businesses has also formed a self-help group called Lean Wanganui to share lessons in productivity and quality improvement.  With high ambitions, this small city is determined not be bypassed again by the opportunities of the new century.  www.wanganui.govt.nz

  New Zealand
  43,000

 
 

Whittlesea, Victoria
A suburban city in the Melbourne metro area, Whittlesea is a highly desirable bedroom community that is attracting 2,500 new households a year to rapidly expanding housing developments.  As its manufacturing sector declined, construction and retail took up the slack, but only 10% of today’s businesses are involved in any form of export.  Population growth has also outstripped the city’s infrastructure, leading to shortfalls in transport, telecom, waste and stormwater systems.  Whittlesea’s political leaders are determined to create a robust local economy on Intelligent Community principles.  The city has long required developers of greenfeld residential projects to install telecom conduit and transfer control to local government; it has now leased or sold conduit to accelerate broadband deployment.  This motivated the incumbent to begin installing FTTP infrastructure into new developments and led the National Broadband Network (NBN) to make the region a deployment site.  The city expects that 70% of premises will have access to 100 Mbps service by 2015. Better broadband access has begun to attract IT professionals and micro-businesses from other parts of metro Melbourne.  With 80% of its businesses already small, Whittlesea is introducing training programs to bring those businesses online, a digital hub to demonstrate ICT to businesses and residents, and a Virtual Village to engage seniors in technology.  The city aims to facilitate digital innovation in small business, education, health and aging, and arts and tourism. It is also partnering with a national training organization and a local community college to introduce a new training program to turn young unskilled residents into installers for the NBN program, which is expected to provide employment for years to come.  www.whittlesea.vic.gov.au

  Australia   171,000

 
 

Winnipeg, Manitoba
Geography and local enterprise made Winnipeg into the center of Canada’s grain trade, a rail center and the birthplace of the nation’s first airline.  Home to the University of Manitoba and other educational institutions, Winnipeg has built an economy that combines advanced research and development with its historical commitment to agriculture.  The Composite Innovation Center (CIC) is one example.  This public-private R&D center develops technologies and works to create supply chains for high-performance composites based on agricultural materials such as hemp and flax.  CIC is one of a half-dozen groups that drive innovation in agriculture, fashion, medical diagnostics, IT and wireless. They have been successful enough that Winnipeg is challenged to find enough skilled workers to feed its growth.  To address this, it has launched a number of near-term and long-term talent development schemes.  One is a skills-bridging program that integrates foreign-trained agricultural scientists into Manitoba’s agricultural sector.  Another engages 7,000 students and teachers from K through 12 in STEM programs.  Others focus specifically on the city’s Aboriginal population, which is underrepresented in high-paying occupations.  Coursework in ICT acquaints students with a wide spectrum of knowledge and prepares them for university study.  With broadband already available to 85% of premises, a Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund is helping community-based ISPs to extend coverage to 67 rural towns and villages.  Winnipeg has also built incubator and accelerator programs to help guide young entrepreneurs through commercialization, startup, fundraising and growth.  The goal is to drive a continuing wave of innovation to maintain the city’s edge in an increasingly global market.  www.winnipeg.ca

  Canada   763,000
 
 
 

 

 


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