(June 1, 2023 – New York City, NY, USA) – The Intelligent Community Forum announced today the certification of two cities half a world apart as Intelligent Communities: Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia and Winnipeg, the capital of the province of Manitoba in Canada.
Meeting ICF’s Certification standard provides objective validation that a community has high-quality connectivity, effective workforce development, a business innovation ecosystem and meaningful community engagement, digital inclusion and sustainability programs in place. These qualities combine to support the growth of innovative businesses, meet their talent needs and provide inclusive prosperity and a high quality of life.
“ICF introduced its Intelligent Community Certification program in March,” said ICF co-founder Robert Bell, “and we are already certifying our fourth and fifth communities. That’s a testament to the economic development value that ICF’s Community Accelerator Strategy and rigorous analysis offers to cities and regions of all sizes.”
Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia is a three-time honoree as a Top7 Intelligent Community in ICF’s Intelligent Community Award program. It received Provisional Certification based on the scoring in a self-reported questionnaire.
The Sunshine Coast is a metropolitan area that spreads across 2,291 square kilometers of Australia’s coastline about 100 kilometers north of Brisbane. A sub-tropical paradise of beautiful beaches and scenic mountains, the Coast has experienced boom times and almost doubled its population since the 1980s. Transforming from tourism and retirement relocation, which drove the growth of construction and retailing, into a diverse growth region built around balancing the economy, environment and community needs.
Sunshine Coast Council worked with leading business, industry and the Queensland Government to develop the Regional Economic Development Strategy 2013-2033 which provides a 20-year vision and blueprint for sustainable economic growth. Its economy continues to evolve into a modern, smart economy based on sound growth across numerous high value and knowledge-based industries including professional business services, innovative manufacturing and high tech. More from the ICF profile of Sunshine Coast.
Winnipeg is a four-time honoree as a Top7 Intelligent Community and was named Intelligent Community of the Year in 2021. The city received Full Certification based on completion of multiple questionnaires and a site audit by ICF executives, which confirmed the data analysis.
Winnipeg is the capital of the Canadian province of Manitoba, located in the centre of the North American continent. Winnipeg’s economy is dominated by agriculture, energy and manufacturing. Over the past decade, the city has built a new economic foundation by connecting industry, education and a rising technology sector.
Winnipeg’s digital transformation began when local business leaders, frustrated by poor broadband service, established the Manitoba Internet Exchange to attract internet service providers and reduce their operating costs. Today, it has seen major investments in greater connectivity by private sector companies including a $400 million investment by Bell MTS for all-fiber connections across Winnipeg.
Strong collaborations with universities, community colleges and major employers have created everything from large fabrication labs to digital equipment upgrades and micro-credential workshops that generate new products, new companies, and new jobs. Innovation centres conduct joint research and development projects with global impact across major industries from agriculture and life sciences to transportation and distribution. Digital inclusion begins with the public library system and continues through valuable community programs that use digital technology to provide economic opportunities for Indigenous communities and foster greater understanding. Balancing tradition and ambition, Winnipeg keeps building a high-potential future for its people. More from the ICF profile of Winnipeg.
About Intelligent Community Certification
Intelligent Community Certification is provided in two stages. In the first stage, the municipality, county or region completes an online questionnaire with guidance from ICF. It reports on connectivity, workforce development, public and private-sector innovation, digital inclusion, public engagement and sustainability and resilience. ICF applies its proven analytic methods to the data provided in the completed questionnaire and produces both detailed and summary scoring. Communities whose summary score meets or exceeds the standard receive Provisional Certification based on this self-reported data, and the certification must be renewed yearly to remain in effect.
Full Certification requires an onsite audit by ICF. In a site visit, an ICF auditor validates the information provided by the community for its Provisional Certification and learns more about the programs and practices that make it an Intelligent Community. Following the audit, the auditor prepares a report detailing results and updates the scoring of the community based on the audit. Communities whose summary score meets or exceeds the standard receive Full Certification, which is good for three years.
Intelligent Community Certification is based on a set of standards described in detail on the ICF website.
About the Intelligent Community Forum
Starting in 2000 with a research project comparing cities in various nations, the Intelligent Community Forum (www.intelligentcommunity.org) created a unique, data-driven approach to development that puts citizens first while tapping the enormous economic and social potential of technology. In a world dominated by digital, ICF’s mission is to help communities create innovative, sustainable and growing economies, inclusive societies and affirming cultures open to the world. We do it for communities large and small – in urban clusters, outlying suburbs and rural places – through training, consulting, assessment, certification and award programs. ICF believes that digital connectivity and technology create the opportunity for almost every community to develop a dynamic local economy and the social and cultural strengths that go with it – giving them all a chance to be great places to live, work, learn, grow, raise a family and prepare a sustainable path for the next generation.
The Forum sponsors Institutes in North America and Taiwan dedicated to the study of the movement, and national organizations in Canada and Taiwan, both home to many Intelligent Communities. In 2012 ICF was invited to participate at the Nobel Peace Prize conference in Oslo and in 2014, its model and work were recognized by the U.S. Department of Commerce under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which, according to the American government, was “aimed at creating a more flexible and responsive system of workforce development to meet the needs of employers looking to fill 21st century jobs.”
For more details on the Intelligent Community Forum’s programs and publications, go to www.intelligentcommunity.org.
Matthew Owen, Executive Director
Intelligent Community Forum
Tiffany Bower, Project Officer – Future Industries
Economic Development Branch, Sunshine Coast Council
Karen Viveiros, Director of Communications
Economic Development Winnipeg