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Intelligent Community Visionary of the Year

The Visionary of the Year award is presented to an individual or an organization that has taken a leadership role in promoting broadband technology and applications as an essential utility in the Digital Age.  The recipient must have a proven track record in bringing about cooperation between the public and private sectors, and must be recognized by peers as an expert in the field.   New: Visionary Voices ... insights from the Visionaries of the Year

Intelligent Community Visionaries

Rio de Janeiro's Knowledge Squares Program
The Knowledge Squares program is the brainchild of Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes and city CIO Franklin Dias Coelho.  It targets the extreme level of income inequality in Brazil’s cities. Working with companies such as Cisco and Embratel, Rio officials developed the Knowledge Squares with a clear goal: to develop young citizens into a knowledge workforce that is prepared for the upcoming international events and the greater global broadband economy in a way that is not possible in the public schools.  To achieve this goal, Knowledge Squares offer classrooms, labs, digital libraries, recreation areas and a cinema, and provide young people and local communities with skills training in IT, robots, graphics, Web design and video production. For both the public and private partners, the program is a win-win: Rio has a way to educate its citizens and develop a knowledge workforce, and the companies now have a larger potential employee base for business expansion into Latin American markets. MORE >>>

Dr. Chih-Chiang (Jason) Hu, Vice Chairman of the Want Want Group (2015)
Dr. Chih-Chiang (Jason) Hu was named the 2015 Visionary of the Year for his decades of work in government service, including what it called his “revolutionary leadership” of Taichung as Mayor and his work as his nation’s Foreign Minister. Under Dr. Hu’s leadership, Taichung City partnered with telecom companies to increase broadband accessibility to over 90% of its population, fostered alliances between the city’s 23 universities and high-tech industries to generate a workforce with extreme digital and vocational skills, and initiated transformative urban development projects, including the Calligraphy Greenway, a nature path through the city celebrating culture and commerce and the construction of a new performing arts center and opera house, which is Asia’s largest. His vision for transforming an industrial economy into one that combines culture, sustainability and growth led to Taichung being named the 2013 Intelligent Community of the Year. Dr. Hu will accept his award and deliver the keynote address during the 2015 Intelligent Community Awards Dinner, the culmination of ICF’s annual Summit. MORE >>>

Suneet Singh Tuli, CEO of DataWind, Ltd. (2014)clientuploads/Images/Suneet-Singh-Tuli-and-his-Ashtak-Tablet.png
Suneet Singh Tuli has over 23 years of experience as a serial entrepreneur, having launched two successful companies prior to DataWind. At DataWind and previous ventures, he patented technologies that were created to develop scanning, printing and imaging products that set world records in both price and performance. The products created through these ventures have received numerous awards and accolades, including recognition by the Guinness Book of Records. Mr. Tuli was cited for the development of the Aakash II/UbiSlate tablets, which the Intelligent Community Forum believes will revolutionize access to knowledge for billions of people and stabilize communities in the process. The tablet is the world’s cheapest computer, according to Forbes MagazineOne of his best-known quotes is about his mission. Mr. Tuli said, “I don’t care about creating the iPad killer. I care about the four billion people who can afford this device.” The 2014 Intelligent Community Visionary of the Year has previously been recognized by Forbes Magazine in its 2012 Impact 15 list as a “classroom revolutionary” using innovative technologies to reinvent education globally. He was also named the 2012 Entrepreneur of the Year at the World Sikh Awards.  MORE >>> 

Mike Lazaridis, BlackBerry Founder and Vice Chairman (2013)
Mike Lazaridis is the creator of the technology that made secure real-time push-email communications possible on wireless devices for the first time – a breakthrough that opened the door to the mobile devices that are fast becoming the world’s first choice for access to the Broadband Economy.  Mr. Lazaridis has had a lifetime of innovative contribution to his community of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, ICF’s 2007 Intelligent Community of the Year. In Waterloo, Mr. Lazaridis has founded two research institutions of international significance: the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, an independent theoretical physics research institute and the Institute for Quantum Computing, a research center focused on fundamental aspects of quantum mechanics and their applications to information processing which was established within the University of Waterloo. He has also served as Chancellor of the University of Waterloo, which awarded him an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree. Mr. Lazaridis also holds honorary doctoral degrees from McMaster University, University of Windsor and Université Laval. In addition, he is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and has been named to both the Order of Ontario and Order of Canada. He was awarded Canada's most prestigious innovation prize - the Ernest C. Manning Principal Award - has been listed on the TIME 100 List of Most Influential People, and was honored as a Globe and Mail Nation-Builder of the Year. MORE >>>

Senator Stephen Conroy, Australia's Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (2012)
Senator the Honorable Stephen Conroy has demonstrated extraordinary commitment and passion in attempting to enable the development of a digital age infrastructure in one of the world’s most promising and unique nations. Even before its national broadband policy, the Senator’s thinking on the subject enabled several Australian communities to achieve Intelligent Community status. Senator Conroy was appointed Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy in November 2007 and added Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Digital Productivity in September 2010. He also serves as the Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate. Senator Conroy is dedicated to using media and communications to foster innovation and growth among all sectors of the society. He has had an active involvement in the Australian communications portfolio for over ten years. He has a broad range of portfolio responsibilities, not least the famed National Broadband Network, the largest nation-building infrastructure project in Australian history. The NBN is considered by ICF and others the enabling foundation for Australia's digital economy. Other responsibilities include overseeing Australia’s digital television switchover, regulating e-security and cyber-safety, and safe-guarding the radio frequency spectrum. Recently, Digital Productivity was added to his portfolio responsibilities.   MORE >>>

Suvi Linden, former Minister of Communications, Finland and member United Nations Broadband Commission for Digital Development (2011)
Minister Linden set out to understand the role of the Internet in the city of Oulu, which is the “Silicon Valley” of Finland and one of the early first-movers in the Intelligent Community movement.  Through her work and effort, Finland has worked hard to develop an information society.  However, not everyone had access initially to the Internet.  The Internet, as Ms. Linden knew, would be increasingly essential for a prosperous economy, its health and education.  It would, in short, help define the future of a civil society.  She began to think of it as an essential human right.  Under her guidance, Finland became the first country in the world to make Internet access a fundamental right.  On July 10, 2010, ISPs in each geographical area of the country were required to ensure that each citizen has access to at least a 1 Mbps speed connection. Minister Linden has served in the Finnish Parliament since 1995 and became Finland’s Minister of Communications in 2007.  She was previously Minister of Culture.  Minister Linden is also a Chair of the Ubiquitous Information Society Advisory Board in Finland. Minister Linden currently serves as Commissioner, United Nations Broadband Commission for Digital Development and Member of the United Nations Advisory Board of the Digital Health Initiative.  MORE >>>

Premier Shawn Graham, New Brunswick, Canada (2010)
In October 2006, Shawn Graham was sworn in as the Premier of New Brunswick, Canada.  His vision was to propel New Brunswick to a “have” province by 2025.  In 2010, that vision is very much within grasp. Though predominately rural, New Brunswick is working steadily to diversify the towns and villages that have traditionally relied on farming, fishing and forestry into Intelligent Communities.  In the late-1980s, the Province developed a partnership with NBTel and jointly invested in infrastructure to attract large companies to New Brunswick.  IBM, Xerox, Purelator, FedEx, UPS Air Canada, and TD Bank all brought their call centers to the Province.  Today, the local call center industry is worth $1.5 billion and employs 20,000 New Brunswickers.  In the late-1990s, the government created Connect NB, a network of 200 community access centers in rural towns and villages that provide tools and technology for adult learners to upgrade their skills and credentials, search for jobs and access government services.  Today, New Brunswick has more than 400 companies operating in the IT sector, employing 10,000 people and contributing $1 billion to the economy.  Under Premier Graham’s leadership, New Brunswick has also seen two cities place in the Top Seven Intelligent Communities of the Year:  Fredericton in 2009 and 2008, and Moncton in 2009.  MORE >>>

Mayor Andre Santini, Issy-les-Moulineaux (2009)
Mayor Santini had a vision of rebuilding Issy’s economy as far back as the 1980’s.  Mr. Santini early envisioned a time when information and communications technology would take the place of traditional industry as a generator of jobs.  In 1994, Issy launched the first version of an e-government portal to share information with citizens.  By 1995, Issy had free Internet access in its Media Library and, in 1997, the Council added online access to its cable and Internet broadcast of meetings, inviting citizens to ask questions by telephone or email.  In 2002, Issy introduced Internet voting for neighborhood council elections and, by 2005, 62% of citizens were participating in the elections, of which nearly 94% voted over the web.  In 2003, Issy became the first French city to introduce free public WiFi in locations ranging from government buildings to hospitals, hotels and convention centers.  Issy’s economic success has funded the rich array of broadband applications deployed by government.  The efficiency of these applications has, in turn, made it possible for Issy’s population to grow 35% since 1990 without an increase in the total government payroll.  With employment approaching 95%, Issy has the distinction of having 15% more jobs than residents, and a Web-savvy population in which 98% of respondents told a recent survey that the Internet had fundamentally changed their lives.  MORE >>>

Scot Rourke, President, OneCommunity (2008)
As president and CEO of OneCommunity, Mr. Rourke led the successful effort to develop an ultra-broadband community network serving first the city of Cleveland and then the entire Northeast Ohio region.  Under his leadership, OneCommunity attracted a wealth of resources, including donated fiber and equipment to power this next-generation communications infrastructure.  Since start-up, the OneCommunity network has expanded and will soon connect more than 1,500 schools, libraries, governments, hospitals and universities to each other and the Internet.  Subscribers receive ultra broadband at a fixed cost, while schools are receiving free services due to the Cleveland Clinic’s sponsorship of OneCommunity’s “OneClassroom” program.  The program captures world-class content from the Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland Museum of Art, PBS and other sources for use in the classroom.  In 2006-07, the OneCommunity network hosted an 18-month program called Voices & Choices, which engaged tens of thousands of area leaders in Web-enabled "town meetings" in order to educate people about the challenges facing the regional economy and obtain their input.  Voices & Choices has led to a regional economic development plan called Advance Northeast Ohio, which focuses on business growth and attraction, talent development, inclusion and government collaboration for greater efficiency.  MORE >>>

Amirzai Sangin, Minister of Communications, Afghanistan (2007)
Minister Sangin was cited for having successfully overseen the implementation of a "turnkey" multi-technology voice and data infrastructure at an impressive rate.  Among the notable achievements in 2005-2006 was the use of the new broadband infrastructure to support national elections.  The Ministry, working with international companies, including Cisco Systems, Microsoft and Globecomm Systems, has completed projects that include digital phone service to 11 provinces and connectivity to 34 provincial capitals via satellite and microwave networks.  Forty ministries and government offices in Kabul, the national capitol, were also connected via fiber optics and microwave.  "This is true nation-building using broadband as one of its technical keystones," said ICF Chairman Jung, who presented the award.  The award was presented by New York City's CIO Paul Cosgrave (right) to Minister Sangin.  

New Partnership for Africa's Development (2006)
The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) received the award for its e-Schools Africa project. The project began to take shape in July 2001, when five heads of state (Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa) agreed to pursue a mandate to create sustainable programs to integrate Africa into the global economy. One of the most promising projects was the e-Schools Africa initiative, designed to connect 600,000 schools to the Internet. The project has gained the support of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the African Development Bank. Private sector partners leading the consortium for the NEPAD E-Schools demonstration program include Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft Corporation, satellite operator INMARSAT Limited, Oracle Corporation and Cisco Systems.  His Excellency, Ambassador Simeon Adekanye of Nigeria (left) and Pam Mallela, Manager, ISPAD accepted the award on behalf of NEPAD.

Pedro Cerisola, Mexico, Secretary of Communications and Transport, Government of Mexico (2005)
Under the direction of Mr. Cerisola, Mexico has begun a national initiative called, “e-Mexico,” to link 90% of the nation’s population to the global information highway through the development of 10,000 “Digital Community Centers.” The goal of e-Mexico is to increase Internet usage nationally from 4.5 million to 60 million users. The e-Mexico initiative was launched as a directive from Mexican President Vicent Fox and phase one was begun in 2003. As of May 2003, 3,000 sites have been installed. Javier Perez, General Coordinator for the E-Mexico National System, (left) accepted the award on behalf of Secretary Cerisola and the Ministry.

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