Can global “No-Name” cities act as some of the world's best models as smart and Intelligent communities? You bet! Look at the current list of the SMART21 cities and the TOP7 Intelligent Communities this year to get a clue.
Among the world’s smartest examples include cities you may never have heard of before such as Whanganui, New Zealand; Townsville, Queensland, Australia; Elefsina, Attica, Greece; and Markham, Ontario, Canada. Each one of these cities offers initiatives, programs and governance examples that exhibit best practices that communities around the world can learn from or be inspired to emulate. From the 2022 ICF Smart21 list, you probably have only heard of four cities before: Adelaide, Belfast, Philadelphia, and Rochester. Some of you may have heard of two or three more on that list. But I bet most of you have never heard of the rest. But you should. They may have solutions, ideas and pathways leading to your next innovation staring you in the face.
ICF Co-Founder Lou Zacharilla speaks with thought leaders from intelligent communities around the world.Read more
ICF Co-Founder Lou Zacharilla delivers a Keynote address at the 2022 Top7 Conference and Announcement in Binh Duong, Vietnam.
Binh Duong (VNA) – Binh Duong smart city of the southern province of the same name was named in the 2022 Top 7 Intelligent Communities worldwide at a ceremony on June 21.
The Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) and Binh Duong province jointly hosted the 2022 Top 7 Intelligent Communities Conference & Announcement: After the Pandemic: How Digital Innovation Drives Growth in Our Communities.Read more
Communities from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Taiwan and Vietnam become finalists for Intelligent Community of the Year to be named at the ICF Summit in October
(New York, USA & Binh Duong, Vietnam – June 21, 2022) – In an announcement today at the conclusion of a hybrid live and online conference, the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) named the Top7 Intelligent Communities of 2022. The 20th annual Top7 list includes cities and counties from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Taiwan and Vietnam. One of these seven finalists in the think tank’s annual awards program will be named the Intelligent Community of the Year at the ICF Summit in October. (www.icfsummit.com)Read more
I’m excited and honored to be in Vietnam this week for the Top7 Conference - Post-Pandemic Recovery: How Digital Innovation Drives Growth in Our Community, an event that is helping to create a positive, peaceful future for our cities and our world. I would like to thank Binh Duong and Becamex for inviting us here to Vietnam’s first Intelligent Community for the conference. It has been a pleasure to watch Binh Duong continuously making progress and to be here to congratulate the city on its 25th anniversary. It will be good to see my colleagues from the Netherlands and Eindhoven, too. Eindhoven remains, 11 years after its achievement as Intelligent Community of the Year, one of the best examples of what can be done with innovation, cooperation and the power of the Trip Helix.
Our theme today is “How Digital Innovation Drives Growth.” We will ask our guests: what does that mean? And what kind of growth? Economic, social and cultural, political maturity and excellence? Yes, all of these! We should be proud that in Smart Cities and Intelligent Communities, governments also innovate and learn to provide better, timelier and more reliable services to their eager cities and towns.Read more
Binh Duong to Co-host the Intelligent Community Forum’s Top7 Communities Announcement Event on June 21
(June 14, 2022 – New York City, NY, USA & Binh Duong, Vietnam) – On June 21, 2022, the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) and Binh Duong province will jointly present the 2022 Top7 Intelligent Communities Conference & Announcement: After the Pandemic: How Digital Innovation Drives Growth in Our Communities. The day-long conference features live and online events in Binh Duong, culminating in the announcement of the Top7 Communities of 2022. ICF co-founder Louis Zacharilla will be at the live event to deliver the keynote address on the current state and evolution of the Intelligent Community.
The Top7 Communities are chosen from among the Smart21 Communities of 2022 to be finalists in the yearly Intelligent Community Awards. In October 2022, one of these seven communities will be named the Intelligent Community of the Year at ICF’s Global Summit. The city of Binh Duong was one of the Top7 Communities of 2021 and is a Smart21 Community again this year.Read more
City of Taoyuan Partners with Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) and Leaders of Cities Worldwide to Discuss Ways to Achieve a “Net-Zero” Future
Taoyuan, Taiwan & New York, USA – 10 January 2022 - Topics such as net-zero carbon emission and sustainability have become key issues to the global community. Undeterred by the coronavirus pandemic, Department of Information Technology of Taoyuan City Government partnered with the internationally acclaimed ICF as a front runner in 2022. As a prelude to the Smart City Summit & Expo 2022 held in Taiwan, Taoyuan City will co-host with ICF the series of “Taoyuan x ICF: City-Leaders Conversation” with fellow intelligent communities on how to best respond to the challenges at hand.Read more
This open letter was written to the communities around the world that make up our network.
Dear Friends and Members of the Intelligent Community Network,
One of the strengths of community is the ability to bond and support one another, especially in times of challenge, crisis or good fortune. As you are aware from your own experience the COVID-19 Pandemic has brought hardship to most places and is one of the most difficult public health challenges in a century. Most of you have been managing well and using the principles to keep your family and friends safe. Today, I am writing to you because one of our Intelligent Communities has found itself struggling with COVID.Read more
In the heart of Vietnam’s southeastern Binh Duong Province is a brand new city in development. Binh Duong Smart City is being created by the Smart City Office, Becamex, the state agency overseeing the project, the academic and entrepreneurial sector and the Standing and the Peoples’ Committees of the government all working in concert to design a modern, environmentally friendly city that will someday be home to one million Vietnamese. The new city already includes Eastern International University, a world-class academic institution, as well as six industrial parks and the region’s first accelerator. Binh Duong Smart City has worked tirelessly, assisted by ideas such as the “triple helix” collaboration method from ICF alumnus Eindhoven, the 2011 Intelligent Community of the Year, to transform a traditionally agrarian, low-population area into a core of Vietnam’s Southern Key Economic Zone.
WiFi for All
The Binh Duong region has historically limited fixed-line infrastructure when it comes to broadband access, and investment costs for expanding it are high. The city has met this challenge by focusing instead on free, public WiFi networks. All government buildings in Binh Duong Smart City, as well as most public and private university buildings, colleges and high schools provide open wireless networks for their staff, students and visitors. Citizens living in more remote areas with limited access can make use of these public hubs as well.
In addition to providing WiFi networks in government and educational buildings, Binh Duong Smart City also has free public WiFi on all buses of the Becamex Tokyu system, which provides transport in and around the central province. The service is widely used already, with upwards of 50 passengers per bus connected to WiFi via their smartphones on a standard trip. Public spaces in the city have also begun providing free WiFi, including supermarkets, restaurants, coffee bars and parks.
While it continues to expand its public WiFi network, Binh Duong has also begun work on a glass fiber network to connect the city's many industrial parks. The city began installation of the glass fiber backbone in 2019 with the help of a collaboration between the regional telecom company VNTT, which provides services in Ho Chi Minh City, and Japanese provider NTT. This partnership allowed Binh Duong to design its glass fiber structure based on Japanese standards, improving broadband speed for the whole city once the project is completed.
Building an Innovation Ecosystem
As in many developing countries, Binh Duong Smart City faced difficulties attracting industry outside of cost-driven manufacturing, as well as backlogs in technical equipment within schools and new businesses. To combat these troubles, Binh Duong Province and Becamex Industrial Development Company (IDC) reached out to Brainport, Eindhoven for advice. Thus began the Binh Duong Smart region project, aimed at accelerating Binh Duong’s economic growth in a sustainable way by implementing the triple helix model of collaboration between industry, government and universities.
Binh Duong Smart City is home to a growing number of Techlabs and Fablabs located in schools, universities and vocational colleges around the region. These labs collaborate closely with industrial partners and Binh Duong’s Department of Science and Technology. Techlabs are locations for practical education in the latest technology, including up-to-date equipment provided by industry partners. They also provide a space for joint research projects between universities and schools and local industry employers. Binh Duong’s Techlabs include a lighting lab at Eastern International University, a mechanical electrical lab at Vietnam-Singapore Vocational College and an ICT lab at Thu Dau Mot University, with a robotics and intelligent systems lab, a power electronics system lab and a data analysis and artificial intelligence lab in the works.
Fablabs are small-scale workshops that offer access to digital fabrication technologies and equipment. They are open to everyone in the community, including students, adults, small businesses and organizations. These spaces provide an environment for clients to test new ideas and prototypes with access to all the needed equipment. Eastern International University in Binh Duong Smart City is currently home to the Becamex Fablab, a collaboration between the university and Becamex IDC, which boasts working spaces and equipment for 3D printing, 3D scanning, laser cutting, laser engraving, CNC and a variety of other hardware, mechanical equipment and tools. Other Fablabs are planned at schools and community centers throughout the region.
Binh Duong also hosts the region’s first mature business incubator at Eastern International University. The incubator began operations in early 2018, providing workspaces, training and support programs and networking facilities for entrepreneurs and new small business startups. The incubator works closely with the Becamex Fablab to grant access to facilities for testing products as well. Local businesses also work directly with Eastern International University on curriculum to ensure that students learn the necessary skills to find jobs in the local economy.
Binh Duong's Department of Science and Technology is now in the process of building the Binh Duong Innovation Hub. The hub will be centered in a historic building in the local community of Thu Dau Mot, which is now being renovated for this purpose. The Binh Duong Innovation Hub will to house a new startup incubator center, an official Fablab and a ‘Tech Playground,’ a permanent facility for STEM education.
Information Technology Training to Improve Rural Life
The Binh Duong province has historically been agrarian with many farmers scattered throughout remote areas. To reduce poverty and improve quality of life in these areas, Binh Duong began a project in 2011 to set up information access points in communes, wards and townships to supply scientific and technological training for local farmers and other citizens. The project team worked closely with the Farmers Association Tan Binh, Farmer Association of Lai Thieu Townlet, Farmers Association of Tan Hiep Commune, Farmer Association of Lai Hung Commune, Farmers Association of Minh Hoa and Farmers Association of Chanh My Commune to set up 87 access points throughout the province.
The access points provide a website portal for accessing local scientific and technological information, technology markets and equipment via the Internet and both local and international information sources. This portal allows farmers to easily locate the information most relevant to their land and situation. The access point staff also provide training courses for local farmers with a focus on accessing and exploiting websites related to prices and commodities, consumption markets, models for raising livestock and plants and other useful resources. Forty-five of these training courses have been completed to date with 900 farmers participating throughout the region.
Binh Duong Smart City Summit
While developing infrastructure and training programs, Binh Duong Smart City has also focused on its most important resource: its people. The city promotes information about its Smart City projects to the whole region via local and regional newspapers, websites and national television channels. Beginning in 2016, Binh Duong has organized and hosted the Binh Duong Smart City Summit, an international event aimed at raising awareness of the Smart City concept among authorities, businessmen, students and citizens of the region while demonstrating Binh Duong’s economic and social value to the region on the world stage. The 2016 and 2017 summits featured keynote speeches by thought leaders in Binh Duong and international industry and educational leaders, a live exhibition and a 24-hour hackathon with 50 student teams participating.
The 2018 Binh Duong Smart City Summit has expanded and will be co-organized by the Korean City of Daejon and the World Technopolis Association, as Korea is one of the major investors in Binh Duong’s industrial development and Korean companies are some of Binh Duong’s largest employers. The yearly hackathon will become a “Creative Ideas for Smart Cities” contest, inviting student teams to present ideas that promote innovation and social improvement. Ninety-six teams from 22 universities in Vietnam, as well as 26 teams from other Asian countries, participated in 2018. After the successful collaboration, Binh Duong has been invited to join the international WTA network and host the 20th annual WTA event.
Binh Duong in the Pandemic
Guided by experience with the SARS and MERS epidemics in Asia, Vietnam responded to the COVID-19 outbreak quickly and proactively. By February 2020, most companies and institutions required staff to work from home and banned travel. International flights were suspended in March except for repatriates, diplomats and other officials with mandatory quarantine periods. Schools and universities were closed down for four months, as well as the bars and restaurants where so much virus transmission has taken place around the world. As of April 2021, Vietnam has experienced fewer than 2,700 cases and 35 deaths from COVID.
Binh Duong’s provincial economy is mainly driven by industry and services, with tourism making only a minor contribution. After a one-month mandatory closing, most factories returned to normal operation. Nonetheless, restrictions on international travel have affected Binh Duong’s growth potential as foreign direct investment slowed. To combat the unavoidable economic downturn, the industrial park developer, Becamex IDC, offered tenant companies a three-month rent holiday and Becamex staff accepted a temporary salary cut.
In 2020, Binh Duong was one of the fastest growing provincial economies in Vietnam, which itself was a world leader in economic growth. With the pandemic slowly loosening its grip on the world, the Binh Duong Smart City expects to return to growth, making their way toward a bright future for the region and beyond.
Smart21 2019 | 2020 | 2021 | 2022
Top7 2021 | 2022