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Intelligent Community Founders Awards

The ICF Founders Awards are presented to individuals, applications, organizations and innovations within Intelligent Communities that are transforming life in the Broadband Economy for the common good  The Founders Awards attempt to identify best practices, sustained programs or inspiring initiatives and give them global recognition.  Honorees are selected by ICF's founders.

Intelligent Community Founders Awards 2012

Mexico’s “Vigilante Taxi Driver” Program 
The City of Tuxtla Gutiérrez (population 555,000) launched the Vigilante Taxi Driver program to involve citizens in improving public safety and quality of life in this community, located in the Mexican state of Chiapas. Prior to the development of the program, crime was rampant in Tuxtla Gutiérrez and the city was challenged to maintain and upgrade its infrastructure.

The service is provided through the Vigilante Citizen Monitoring System, which consists of an integrated platform that combines the use of cell phones for taxi drivers with multimedia and GPS, and a Web platform that receives and plots the information and makes it available to city agencies responsible for public safety, utilities and maintenance.  

Nearly 3,500 taxi drivers between the ages of 19 and 80 use their mobile phones to alert the Citizen Monitoring System about accidents, potholes, downed street lights and leaking water mains, as well as crimes in progress. The system integrates 46 municipal departments and agencies at two levels of government.

Commenting on the award, Tuxtla Gutiérrez mayor Felipe de Jesus Pastrana Granda noted his immense gratitude to ICF and said, “The program has demonstrated its effectiveness and is recognized as part of our Intelligent Community initiatives. It encourages public participation and I am proud to say that it is evidence of the benefits of technology and innovation for citizens.  We look forward to the events in New York."

Since the program was initiated, drivers have reported on nearly 2,500 car accidents, 146 stolen vehicles (of which 80% were recovered), and 30 illegal bars, which have since been closed. Vigilante Taxi Drivers have identified counterfeiters of license plates and official documents, assisted in dismantling kidnapping and car-theft gangs, and saved the lives of more than 130 people injured in accidents or crimes.

ICF noted, “The Tuxtla Gutiérrez program represents a near-perfect blend of technology and citizen participation. It is the essence of ordinary technology used to achieve a high level of innovation. It relies on the mobile phone—a simple technology—to engage citizens in improving their community.”

For his part, Governor of the State of Chiapas, Juan Sabines Guerrero, added, "The Taxi Driver Vigilante program is one of the most successful public participation programs in Mexico. It shows the importance of how technology can contribute to the development of cities, and allows citizens to have the tools to be harbingers of change in their community."

Intelligent Community Founders Awards 2011

Springfield mixed development community, Ipswich, Australia 
A planned community is an opportunity for developing a community the right way, but it is also an opportunity for making irreversible mistakes. In the early 1990s, a major planned community began development in Springfield on a total land area of 2,860 hectares, anticipating a planned population of 86,000 residents. Because it was a community that had been planned from the beginning, it was able to design special precincts for Health, Education, Business and Retail with communications technology underlying the entire development. An emphasis on first establishing a broadband and IT infrastructure to anticipate the needs of the population resulted in the development of a sophisticated data center and a diverse dark fiber optic network with connectivity back to the central business district of Brisbane.

Health City Springfield is a designated health and wellness precinct. Located in the heart of Springfield Central, alongside education, retail and business precincts, it is emerging as a regional hub, providing residents of Greater Springfield, a rapidly growing Ipswich and what is called the “Western Corridor” population with easily accessible and comprehensive health services and facilities.
The first stage is a medical “hotel,” with a primary care facility, hospital, research and educational component, along with aged care and retirement living apartments. Health-related services businesses are locating around this precinct.
When it is completed, Springfield Health City will be a one-stop health and wellness destination with everything from oral health care and general medical services. There will be an acute care hospital and aged care facility, consisting of 128 beds. To balance the needs of an aging population, independent retirement living units (up to 100 in stage one) are being developed.
According to Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale, the plan for Health City was based on research by Harvard Medical International and included a broad collaboration among relevant stakeholders, including the government, regional universities, and health care professionals and associations.

ICF noted the project’s scope and intention to provide an integrated and comprehensive approach to health services in what will be a community within a community. ICF added that the project will ideally “leave no one underserved.”

Springfield was named the world-wide winner of the master planned category at the 61st World Congress of the International Real Estate Federation.

nDanville Medical Network, Danville, Virginia (USA)
The challenge of providing healthcare in rural areas has grown acute. Technology can help, and ICF has dedicated the year 2011 to understand better how this is possible.

Defining what is possible through adequate connectivity in a smaller, rural community’s medical system, the nDanville Medical Network connects over 50% of the medical offices, clinics and labs in Danville, including its regional hospital. Its high performance fiber uses 100 megabit and Gigabit connections to provide real time access to patient information and medical records for connected medical facilities.

On average, fiber connections for these facilities provide twice the bandwidth of the previous connection but at a 30% savings. More than 90% of the medical facilities (approximately 125 locations) are to be connected by December  2011, said Jason Grey, the Broadband Network Manager of Danville Utilities, who led Danville’s charge to become a recognized intelligent community by ICF.

ICF noted, “The wonderful reality is that the nDanville initiative is enabling improved patient care in a rural setting, while cutting health care costs. Cutting costs and improving the delivery of care is the combination that matters most in the lives of people living in communities.”

ICF further noted that the nDanville Network provides a crucial link between the Danville Diagnostic and Imaging Center and the Danville Regional Hospital. This high capacity connection allows the two facilities to exchange CT and MRI scans instantly, as well as other patient information, thus helping doctors do their job more effectively.

The project has impacted education as well. At the Danville Community College medical technician students train on new interactive systems which provide monitoring and feedback to accelerate learning. Training rooms have a sophisticated video system that allows instructors to record students training and to provide detailed critiques, thus combining the technological and the human art of healing.

Intelligent Community Founders Awards 2010

Digital Schoolbag, Besançon, France
A university town and regional capital, the City of Besançon grew wealthy from the manufacture of clocks and watches, metallurgy, textiles and food-processing – until global competition for timepieces in the 1970s sent the economy into severe decline.  The community fought back by leveraging its universities and grands écoles, where 24,000 students are enrolled, and finding new outlets for the skills of its citizens in precision manufacturing.  Today, Besançon is the base for 8,900 vibrant businesses and three global competitiveness clusters: the microtechnology competitiveness cluster; the biomedical and biotechnological engineering cluster; and the nanotechnologies, automation, microrobotics and microplasturgy cluster.  In 1994, it became the first French city with a fiber network connecting all government and quasi-government facilities.

In 2003, Besançon also became the first city providing computer equipment to all children of the same age class and their families.  Within the “Digital Schoolbag” project, all 3rd grade students receive a multimedia computer package.  Given to the pupils free of charge, the package comprises a computer with Pentium processor, the same educational software that is used at school (dictionaries, atlas, etc), and the option to subscribe to Internet access.  The Schoolbag also includes workshops for the parents in order to enable them to participate in their children’s learning at school.

In 2001 the Ministry of National Education introduced a new Information and Internet Certificate.  This required that pupils be tested in computer and Internet skills at the end of elementary and middle school.  The results of the evaluation have shown that the pupils in Besançon beginning their first year of secondary school have a much higher success level than the national average.

Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project
The Pew Internet Project conducts original research that explores the impact of the Internet on children, families, communities, the workplace, schools, health care, and civic/political life.  The Project was initially conceived by the staff and officers of the Pew Charitable Trusts and is one of seven key projects of the Pew Research Center in Washington, DC.  Pew observed in the late 1990s that many of the debates regarding the impact of the Internet lacked reliable data.  In 1999 the foundation hired Lee Rainie to secure an initial three-year grant.  Rainie was named the project’s Director and has spearheaded the enormously influential series of research projects ever since.

The Project conducted its first survey about the general role of the Internet and email on the average person’s life in March 2000 (one year before ICF’s landmark white paper studying the global impact on communities).  The animating spirit of that report and subsequent research was to provide data and insights of relevance to policy makers, journalists, scholars, technology leaders, non-profit executives, and engaged citizens in communities in the United States.  It became clear after the Project’s early reports that other groups were considered stakeholders, including the medical community, parent- and child-advocates, librarians, and new media workers, including an emerging generation of media workers within government agencies.

Over the past decade, ICF noted that the Internet & American Life project has covered topics as diverse as Internet viruses, music downloading, online privacy, cell phone usage, and wireless connectivity.  More recent subjects include cloud computing and the future of the Internet.  The Project has also followed new online activities as they reach a critical threshold of adoption.  ICF noted the impact of Pew’s studies on broadband usage in the United States and how broadband influences behavior.

Tianjin Binhai New Area, China
For the past three decades, the Chinese economy has grown at an average of over 9% and expectations are that China will soon emerge as the world's second largest economy.  As its national economy continues to accelerate, mandating that it continue to create enormous economic output, China faces an unprecedented demand for talent in the areas of science, technology and innovation.  This enormous pressure is felt most keenly in Tianjin Binhai New Area (TBNA).  TBNA is a new logistics hub and manufacturing center that is the coastal gateway to Beijing.  TBNA, with a population of over 2 million, was named one of ICF's Smart21 Communities for 2010.  This new urban center relies heavily on an information technology “overlay” to produce economic output that is based increasingly on knowledge industries.  At present, nearly 30% of all of China’s scientific and technological talent is within this new community, according to data submitted to ICF.

TBNA has established programs such as the Employment Services Card, Work Youth Experience and Training Database to not only connect students directly to the workplace on collaborative projects, but also keep citizens briefed on opportunities in the workforce.  Further, Tianjin Binhai University Technology Transfer Center has deeply integrated students at TBNA's universities and colleges into the local economy.  This has led to numerous university-industry projects to improve enormous industry clusters, including grape cultivation, winemaking and refrigeration, wastewater treatment (in papermaking), and eco-tourism.

ICF said it honors TBNA for assembling what may be the world's most comprehensive effort to involve students in the local economy and provide a systematic ‘on ramp’ to local employment.

Intelligent Community Founders Awards 2009

Dave Carter, Head, Manchester Digital Development Agency, Manchester, UK
In the 1980s, Manchester lost one million jobs in the 10-municipality metro region, equal to 25% of the employment base.  In 1984, a newly elected Council asked the university to launch research in order to better understand the crisis and how to respond to it.  They hired a young visionary named Dave Carter and tasked him with re-envisioning Manchester's economy for the next 10 years.  Mr. Carter's recommendations included developing linkages between the city government and its well-regarded university sector, focusing economic development on the city's arts and entertainment sector, and preparing Manchester to prosper from the commercialization of the Internet.  Within less than a decade, Manchester had developed a successful science park in partnership with its universities, introduced skills training and investment that significantly boosted employment in arts and entertainment, and developed the UK's third Internet Exchange as a diversity site for London.  Though still home to some of the UK's most distressed districts, Manchester today boasts a diverse and vibrant economy.  Manufacturing still employs 12% of the workforce but the employment growth in finance and professional services, creative and new media industries, and digital communications far outpaced national averages from 1998 to 2006.  Business start-ups during the same period were nearly three times the UK average. 

Mr. Carter has moved through a series of leadership positions and today heads the Manchester Digital Development Agency, part of the City Council that focuses on ICT systems, Web/new media applications, digital cities, intelligent energy, regeneration, citizen engagement and innovation. The MDDA works across the Greater Manchester metro area, which has a population of 2.5 million people.  But in true Intelligent Community fashion, Mr. Carter’s work has not stopped at either the municipal or national border.  Mr. Carter is one of the founding members of Telecities, a project of the EC's Eurocities network that promotes knowledge-sharing among European cities.  Telecities, since renamed the Eurocities Knowledge Society Forum, focuses on the development of Intelligent Communities based on platforms similar to those of ICF. 

Through Mr. Carter's initiative, Manchester was named a Top Seven Intelligent Community in 2006 and appeared on ICF's list of the Smart21 in 2009.

Andrew Spano, County Executive, Westchester County, New York, USA
Under the direction of long-time County Executive Andrew J. Spano, the county north of New York City with a population of nearly one million residents, has made its broadband and telecommunications strategy the foundation for continued innovation, growth and access.  While often in the shadow of its neighbor to the south, Westchester County generates 10% of all patents in the United States.  

When carriers refused to introduce broadband beyond the profitable business corridor, the county government worked with 43 independent local governments as well as library systems, schools and hospitals to aggregate demand in order to finance construction of a fiber network.  That network today serves 3,500 businesses and is saving government and public-service agencies large amounts of money.  The network has been instrumental in the attraction of substantial new investment (including other broadband carriers), improved educational achievement, job creation and an enhanced quality of life.  Of note to ICF is Mr. Spano's lifetime of innovation in re-engineering local government processes, which has saved tax dollars and created a local culture of use that has made the Internet a major form of communication between government and citizens at every level.  In 2009, Westchester will launch a registry to allow citizens to sign up online indicating whether they would require special assistance in the event of an emergency.

Under Mr. Spano's leadership, Westchester County was named a Top Seven Intelligent Community in 2008 and named to ICF's list of the Smart21 in 2009.

Taoyuan County, Taiwan
In the "Age of Obama," which is ushering in a new generation of tech savvy leaders, Taiwan's youngest magistrate (governor) Dr. Eric Li Luan Chu has led the nation's second largest prefecture for the past eight years.  With a population of two million and an annual budget of US$1.5 billion, Taoyuan County has emerged as the leading industrialized region in Taiwan.  It is not surprising that a young governor is leading this Intelligent Community, since the county's residents have an average age of 34 years.  The community's threefold strategy for becoming a model community for the 21st Century includes an ascending transformation into an electronic, mobile and ubiquitous technology-usage community, which will drive quality of life and create a sustainable culture of use.  ICF specifically noted Taoyuan's "U-Aerotropolis" project, which is a broad and comprehensively planned integration of digital infrastructure and support services for an expanding aviation business cluster.  The project implements broadband in the service of various air transport "free trade zones" within the county, which are designed to expedite and expand clearances and the export of industrial technology products.  It is envisioned that the "U-Aerotropolis" initiative will continue to drive new business formation beyond the 23,000 service industry jobs at present.   

In the past six year, 20,000 businesses have been registered in this Intelligent Community, where 23 industrial parks continue to generate innovative processes and new wealth within the context of a local "broadband economy."  ICF particularly commended Taoyuan's public administration and Governor Chu for deciding to continue to invest significantly in infrastructure and services despite the global economic slowdown.  

In 2009 Taoyuan County made its first appearance on ICF's annual list of Intelligent Communities as a Smart21 Community.

Intelligent Community Founders Awards 2008 

X-Road, Tallin, Estonia
As Tallinn continues its "Tiger Leap" toward a truly robust mobile broadband economy, while consolidating dozens of everyday civic, economic and personal applications through the use of a single ID card, there is a need for a platform bridge.  In the information technology world, this is called "middleware," because it bridges between the Web and pre-Web systems.  Since 1999, Tallinn has invested heavily in IT for government and civic programs, producing a huge number of independent databases and systems in many different departments.

To help users in government, business and the public find what they need, the government created X-Road, a middleware platform.  X-Road not only allows different systems to talk to each other securely but also includes standard tools to speed the development of new online services.  Instead of months and years, X-Road makes it possible to develop new e-government applications in a matter of hours or days.  Instead of the usual high cost for developing a new service, X-Road puts complete applications online for between US$1,000 and $10,000.  The system has become so successful that it is now the backbone for most e-government services in Estonia.  It links 67 databases to provide 687 different services across 392 institutions and companies.

Tallin was named to the Top 7 in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Gangnam Academic Aptitude Broadcasting, Seoul, South Korea
Korea's reverence for education has few comparisons.  Its pursuit of academic excellence and achievement continues to produce one of the world’s most exemplary knowledge workforces and "cultures of use."  This is most readily witnessed by its leadership in many areas of consumer technology.

A significant percentage of the economic and academic GDP which drives Seoul and the small nation of South Korea comes from the academic institutions of the Gangnam-gu District of Seoul.  Nationwide the fierce competition to advance to good colleges has created a supply and demand imbalance which has placed a great burden on parents seeking a reliable private education for their children.  The cost of schooling, especially in Gangnam, has skyrocketed.  Citizens with low income and residents in small cities and farming areas have very limited access to such private education. To address this, Gangnam initiated a visionary project that uses the power of the Internet and its robust broadband infrastructure to enable students nationwide to tap into Gangnam’s wealth of academic talent.  The Gangnam Academic Aptitude Broadcasting system delivers an affordable education from the community’s best lecturers for 20,000 won (US$21).

The Gangnam-gu District of Seoul was named to the Top 7 in 2006 and 2007 and was the ICF Intelligent Community of the Year in 2008.

Dundee City Council, Scotland
Because a wide range of new initiatives, such as a digital Discovery Card, "smart" buses, tech incubators and science parks, as well as its new Digital Observatory (which was brought into being specifically to achieve a community goal of making Dundee one of the most advanced "broadband" communities in the world), Scotland’s fourth largest community has sought and gained a fundamental economic advantage.  This second-time Top Seven Intelligent Community has moved to leadership among Europe’s communities as a result of an innovative and pioneering team of leaders within its City Council.  The Council is a collaborative and innovative body, whose Digital Observatory strategy is building collaboration among all sectors of the community to deliver a broadband wireless infrastructure to continue to enable Dundee to become a "factory" for information age products and services.  The Council's leadership has been the key factor driving the evolution of Dundee from the home of "jute, jam and journalism" to today's innovative and hip community, a national center for "jeans, games and joysticks."  Today, nearly 80% of Dundee’s businesses benefit from e-business.  The average increase in profitability from e-business is 10% above the national average.

Dundee was named to the Top 7 in 2007 and 2008.

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