|The Zacharilla collection from previous Intelligent Communities of the Year. Many of these cities will have representatives on the stage on June 13 to honor Espoo’s successor.|
First, I am wondering which of the seven communities now on their way to New York as I write this will succeed his city, which was an improbable and unexpected choice for the award in London last June? Which of them will celebrate their ranking among the Top7 but then walk to the stage alone, surrounded by Espoo and other former Intelligent Communities of the Year, to accept the trophy as Intelligent Community of the Year?
It is a question in the minds of hundreds of people in these seven communities, as well as throughout our worldwide network, site selectors, the media and, most importantly, cities considering using the ICF Method.
Second is a more parochial conceit. I am wondering if I will get a nice blue tie just like Mayor Mäkelä’s.Read more
On October 25, ICF will be announcing the Smart21 Communities of 2019 during an event taking place in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. ICF co-founder John Jung sits down with Lou Zacharilla to discuss the event, in this week's Intelligent Community podcast. Learn more about the event here.
- John Jung, Co-Founder, Intelligent Community Forum
Louis Zacharilla, Co-Founder, Intelligent Community Forum
As we approach the 2018 Smart21 Announcement in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada on October 25, 2018, there is an added twist to this event this year, a Community Roundtable. It will be a great opportunity for communities to showcase their cities, towns and regions, but equally important is the fact that these are all Canadian communities, big and small, urban and rural, that had previously been recognized by ICF’s adjudicators as a SMART21, TOP7 or Intelligent Community of the Year. They will each speak to what makes their community smart and intelligent and what some of their key challenges were and what solutions they applied to resolve these challenges. Some may even brag about how this process has helped their community focus their transformation to become smart cities and intelligent communities. And some may even boast about how their use of the brand as a SMART21 city or TOP7 Intelligent Community may have helped them attract investors, jobs and talent to their communities.Read more
Rarely have I seen a mayor cry when receiving an award. But there I was, in London, on the angular stage of American Square, standing next to Mayor Jukka Mäkelä of Espoo, moments after announcing our 2018 Intelligent Community of the Year. It is always a thrilling event, much like a World Cup, with unexpected moments almost guaranteed and plenty of nationalism garnishing our celebration of our eclectic salad of communities.
Apparently as surprised as most everyone in the room, the mayor took the stage and greeted everyone on it. He took his trophy and looked at it for an almost uncomfortably long time before speaking. I realized that this was partly because he was in a minor state of shock and delight. He acknowledged his Top7 peers, whose long faces were not as long as I imagined they would be. Each had a classy smile on as they applauded. This said everything you need know about our Top7 this year.Read more
In the far northern nations of the world, people tend to cluster southward. Espoo, Finland's second largest city, lies on the border of its biggest city and national capital, Helsinki. Both stand on Finland’s southern coast, directly across the Gulf of Finland from Tallinn, a frequent Top7 Intelligent Community and the capital of Estonia.
In 1950, Espoo was a regional municipality of 22,000, which drew its name from the Swedish words for the aspen tree and for river. Today, Espoo is still a place on a river bordered by aspen, and about 8 percent of its population still speaks Swedish as its first language.
Sixty-five years later, however, it is an industrial city of 270,000. It retains its dispersed, regional nature, however, being made of up of seven population hubs arrayed along the border with Helsinki, where many of its citizens work.
In 2010, Finland’s Parliament made history by declaring that access to 1 Mbps broadband is a legal right. Today, Finland ranks second in the world for mobile broadband adoption, according to the OECD. It is also one of the leading countries in Europe for ultra-broadband adoption, with more than 50% of households having access to a fixed connection of 100 Mbps.
In such an advanced broadband economy, it is natural that the Intelligent Community of Espoo would take a next-generation approach to improving broadband access and adoption. With the explosive growth of mobile data, driven largely by video, the city sees a serious risk of capacity bottlenecks threatening city digital services and throttling the future online experience of residents. Its answer is LuxTurrim 5G, a three-year pilot project that engages Espoo companies and research institutions in evaluating smart light poles as transmitters for 5G, the emerging mobile standard that promises hundreds of megabits per second of service. The light poles will include miniaturized 5G antennas and base stations, sensors for smart city systems and digitally controlled LED lighting. Launched in the spring of 2017, the project aims to create a proof-of-concept for the technology integration and then to start building an export business for the city’s partner companies.
Finland also has an educational performance that is the envy of the world. For most of the 21st Century, its 15-year olds have been among the very top performers in the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), an ongoing study administered every three years that tests the reading, math and science literacy. Eighty-four percent of Finnish 25-64 year olds have at least an upper secondary education, compared with 75% for the OECD, and 39% hold a higher education degree, compared with 32% for the OECD.
As with broadband, so with education. For students at secondary school level, Espoo is working with a local university and private-sector companies on a completely new model for education called School as a Service (SaaS). A school is traditionally defined as a building. The emerging SaaS model redefines school as a network of resources to support learning. In a process designed by school staff and students, teachers change their focus from imparting knowledge to helping students identify the best way for themselves to learn. They have access not only to their own facilities but to university instructors, classrooms, laboratories and science showcases.
In the first year, students have actively grasped the opportunity to attend university courses. The high school has attracted 150% more applicants than in the previous year, and the new model is reducing costs by 25% through better use of space. A second high school is adopting the SaaS model in 2018, and it will be applied in Shanghai, China as well through a partnership with Tongji University.
To help job-seekers with little education, the Employment Concert Sello project trains the unemployed in job-specific skills in partnership with large shopping centers in Espoo and the companies located there. Employers agree to offer trial places to unemployed residents. Trainers in the program find job seekers who are best suited to each company, train them in applying for jobs and the requirements of work. Since the program’s start in 2015, more than 100 companies have agreed to offer trial positions to job seekers, and over 130 job seekers have gained employment and found access to education.
Educational Innovation for Profit
In Espoo, education is not just a means of equipping the next generation with inquiring minds and employable skills. It is also an economic development program. In 2016, Espoo launched a collaborative project called KYKY Accelerated Co-Creation. It turns schools into living labs that support students’ learning and growth while giving educational technology companies a platform to develop products and services for learning. It recognizes that today’s edtech companies lack real understanding of today’s school life, pedagogy and curriculum, and is creating a new operating model to overcome the challenge.
There are risks in letting profit-minded businesses set the terms of education. The KYKY operating model sets clear steps for schools and companies to co-create new products and services that support learning and digital skills. Co-creation activities are user-driven, participatory and empowering, with school and company deciding together on structure, methods and goals. So far, schools participating in the program have seen an increase in the digital skills of students and teachers, as well as their understanding of entrepreneurship as they rub shoulders with edtech company employees. A total of 40 schools with 33,000 participants took part in the program by the end of the spring term in 2017, and the program claims credit for guiding five education startups to international markets – all of them using the “Co-Created with the City of Espoo” brand in their marketing.
Sustainable at the Core
The term “industrial city” usually describes a place where the needs of industry outweighs the needs of citizens for air they can breathe, water they can drink and a safe place to raise their children. Not so in Espoo. An international benchmark has named Espoo the most sustainable city in Europe. The city gives credit to an ongoing partnership among city government, residents, businesses, universities and other stakeholders. From 2013 to 2016, more than 100,000 people participated in sustainability events and city government launched 17 new sustainability projects in collaboration with partners and citizens.
One of the most remarkable things about Espoo is its recognition that, despite being Finland’s second largest city, it is a small player in a global economy. Espoo is a partner in the Six City Strategy, a cooperative policy uniting the six largest cities in Finland to tackle urban challenges. It focuses on open innovation, open data and open participation. The aim is to facilitate the development of smart city solutions by companies and to create an open market among the cities and companies that provides a nationally significant platform for innovation. Cities offer data while identifying their needs to better serve constitutions. Companies bring their tech expertise, market knowledge and corporate objectives to the partnership. Together, they make the opening up of data a natural part of city operation, while driving the creation of commercially viable applications and businesses. From 2014 to 2017, the municipal and corporate partners have launched 26 projects with a budget of 45 million euros, with an additional 55 million euros forecast through 2020.
The cycles of the year are strong in Espoo. In mid-winter, daylight lasts only seven hours, while in midsummer, the sun is a presence in the sky for all but three hours out of twenty-four. Perhaps it is this which gives the city such an appreciation of the forces beyond its control – in particular the technology changes rippling the world’s economy and challenging every community to adapt. With 275,000 people, Espoo may be Finland’s second biggest city but its adaptability to the future is second to none.
Intelligent Community of the Year 2018
NEW YORK CITY – Melbourne, Australia, won “Intelligent Community of the Year” this week at the at New York-based Intelligent Community Forum’s annual ICF Summit.
The ICF also for the first time called for affordable broadband to be declared a utility for public benefit by cities and official agencies. The prestigious annual award measures communities on six “Intelligent Community Indicators”: Broadband, Knowledge Workforce, Innovation, Digital Equality, Sustainability, Advocacy.Read more
The Intelligent Community Forum Names Melbourne, Victoria, Australia the 2017 Intelligent Community of the Year
(June 8, 2017 – New York City) – The Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) today named Melbourne, Victoria, Australia the 2017 Intelligent Community of the Year at a dinner ceremony in the prestigious Landmark on the Park venue in Manhattan. The awards ceremony was the conclusion of the Intelligent Community Forum’s annual Summit.
“Melbourne is famously ‘the world’s most livable city,’ but the question was ‘Are they an Intelligent Community?’” said ICF co-founder Lou Zacharilla. “They answered that question this year. They are redefining the concept of technology, work, and the workspace. They have created a city that functions like an artist’s canvas. They have built an entire system where creativity flourishes, education is harnessed to the workforce, and quality of life has become the city’s greatest competitive advantage. It is a dynamic combination and one the Intelligent Community Forum honors.”
Melbourne was selected as the 2017 Intelligent Community of the Year after a year-long evaluation that included a quantitative analysis of extensive data, site inspections by the Intelligent Community Forum, and votes from an international jury made up of experts from around the world. Communities in the Awards program are evaluated based on six Intelligent Community Indicators, along with a seventh criteria, ICF’s annual theme, The Internet of Cities.
(New York, NY and Taipei, Taiwan – 9 February, 2017) – At the conclusion of “The Internet of Cities Forum” in Taipei, Taiwan today, the Intelligent Community Forum announced its list of the Top7 Intelligent Communities of the Year to an audience of national and municipal leaders from Taiwan, Canada, Estonia, the Netherlands and Vietnam. The 15th annual Top7 list includes communities from four nations, with Australia, Canada and Taiwan each contributing two, and Russia contributing a seventh community in a first-time achievement for that nation.Read more
Montreal has been named 2016 Intelligent Community of the Year in recognition of its Smart City plan, which was introduced in 2011. The honour was bestowed by the Intelligent Community Forum at an event at the Columbus Zoo on Thursday.Read more
Intelligent Community Forum Names Montreal, Quebec, Canada as its 2016 Intelligent Community of the Year
Rio de Janeiro’s Knowledge Squares Program Also Honored with Visionary of Year Award
(June 16, 2016 – Columbus, Ohio, USA & New York City, NY, USA) – The Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) today named Montreal, Quebec, Canada as the 2016 Intelligent Community of the Year at a dinner ceremony in the prestigious Africa Event Center at the Columbus Zoo. The awards ceremony was the conclusion of the Intelligent Community Forum’s annual Summit. Montreal succeeds Columbus, which also was the host city for the 2016 ICF Summit, as the think-tank’s annual Intelligent Community of the Year. Also at the Awards Dinner, Rio de Janeiro’s Knowledge Squares Program was honored with ICF’s prestigious Visionary of the Year award.Read more