In early April, I was in the city of Winnipeg in the Canadian Midwest. There I got a lesson in the construction of ladders. Not the kind of ladder on which I make the dangerous climb to clean out my gutters. The kind that helps people of all ages to access opportunity.Read more
The Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) is the original smart cities organization formed in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s – initially as the Canadian Smart Cities Institute (CSCI), which worked with the World Teleport Association to organize SMART95, the first smart city conference, held in Toronto in September 1995. The CSCI evolved into the Intelligent Community Forum as a global, but New York City-based non-profit think tank, when it moved from Canada to NYC in the late 1990’s. So, yes, we have been around for a considerable time.Read more
I recently spent two intensive days visiting the 2016 Intelligent Community of the Year, Montreal, in Quebec, Canada. While there, I learned that the world may be a lot more hopeful place than you might think. (For a taste of the experience, see the video compiled by my hosts below.)Read more
The Jury has again warned me.
Before I leave for our annual Top7 site visits I get the same thoughtful warning from members of ICF’s international awards jury. It goes something like this, “Beware of the ‘Potemkin Village’ stunt that these cities may use on you once inside their borders. They will try to show you their best parts, not their broken ones.” The Jury has recommended in the past that we include a second person on our site visits. The second would serve as the provocateur for ICF. This makes sense because I am often there to perform necessary cheerleading with the media, and to remind other stakeholders in the cities why their city was chosen. So far, however, we have determined that the cost to the host community does not justify this.Read more
Psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik discovered that people have a better memory for incomplete tasks than for complete ones. Not surprisingly, when we finish a project, we file it away. But when it remains “in limbo,” it stays active in our minds. This is how I describe the “inner lives” and the real, on-the-ground activities of Intelligent Communities. While policies are in place, they are on shifting sand. The communities I see and like are a wave of unfinished business and ideas being thrown into places that have been disrupted and were once reeling. It is the right approach, but it is also why netizens in places like Surrey, Canada (@SurreyBC) will post comments that utter a sense of disbelief and skepticism over learning that they have made an international list that ranks them high among cities. Some call it skepticism, others a PR stunt (others worse), although the majority cheer the news because an outsider has recognized their hard work.Read more
I’ve written before about the ways that small towns and rural areas can take advantage of broadband Internet connections to gain access to global economic opportunities, educational and cultural resources, even the virtual equivalents of coffee shops that used to be only available in big cities.
Perhaps the biggest remaining barrier to a 21st century rural renaissance is access to world class health care.Read more
The major question Top7 host cities have before I set out to visit them is what I want to know. There is some anxiety on their part because they want to make sure that they do well in Columbus on June 16, but also because they want to show off their cities. There are also several people involved and a lot of coordination and, I’m sure, cost involved with a Top7 Site Visit. So I am sensitive to this and try to be a good guest and not make people feel like the Grand Inquisitor and Inspector General has rolled into town.Read more
PART 2: With smart infrastructure, smart people and smart money, an innovation ecosystem is never too far behind.
As we see the emergence of the Internet of Things in the short years ahead we will become even more used to changes in how we will expect things to work and how differently we will want to do things. Resistance to change has been the usual excuse for communities and people, in general, in the past to accept new ways of doing things, but as our urban areas increase their populations and it becomes more difficult to be mobile; to be able to do the things that we may have done previously and we will now have to share it with more people waiting to have access to it, there will be less resistance to change. Perhaps even pent-up demand will be experienced for things that people see in other communities and expect will or should be available to them in short order.Read more
PART 1: Disruption - to transformation - to evolution: the circle of life continues.
As I move through my day, I am constantly disrupted in my normal ways of doing things to the point where I am no longer disrupted but maybe only annoyed that what I am now doing on a regular basis is the new normal. Then I become resigned to this fact and don’t expect to ever go back to what I had been doing years before. I begin to see the advantages of what I am doing today and would never wish to go back to what I had been doing. I even advocate the fact that this new thing is so much better and encourage others to do the same. As society accepts these acts by me and others, they become normalized and the disruption is no longer ever thought of as a disruption. Besides a new disruption has already taken its place.Read more
Today, the 50 most prosperous cities in America produce 34% more economic output per person than the national average. Their populations are growing at 3 times the national rate. That’s because they are magnets for ambitious and talented workers and the companies that need their services to power growth.Read more