Columbus is a city of sharp contrasts. The capital of the state of Ohio, it has the highest metropolitan concentration of Fortune 1000 companies in America and is the home of the research school Ohio State University (OSU) and Battelle, the world’s biggest private research institute. But the city also has a large, low-income population stranded by the decline of low-skilled factory employment and is ranked 46th out of the 50 largest US cities for upward mobility. As a result, average per-capita income trails America’s and its employers struggle to find qualified staff while unemployment and low-wage jobs afflict too many citizens.
Municipal Broadband Attracts Competitors
Columbus is attacking these challenges on multiple fronts and through collaboration among government, education, business and institutions. It is also leading a regional approach to economic development with surrounding communities including former Top7 Dublin. The collaboration plays out in broadband, where the partners have interconnected their fiber networks supporting schools and universities, hospitals, research institutes and government facilities. This continuing investment in advanced broadband has helped attract multiple competing commercial providers as well as enabling a unified traffic management system and mobile solutions for the city workforce including first responders.
Educators meanwhile are collaborating to improve the chance that low-income students can afford higher education and also succeed at it. The Central Ohio Compact unites K-12, community college and undergraduate institutions to guide low-income students into higher education. Preferred Pathway is one program that guarantees community college graduates a university placement, which lets them turn their 2-year degree into a 4-year degree at a fraction of the normal cost. City government supports this effort with programs including Capital Kids, which provides after-school digital literacy programs for K-12 students, and APPS, which works to give at-risk youth positive alternatives to being on the street, including computer labs funded by Microsoft.
From Brain Drain to Brain Gain
Another partnership, TechColumbus, offers startup acceleration, business mentoring, seed funding and capital attraction. Its First Customer program helps young companies generate their first revenue from established companies in the region.
The East Franklinton neighborhood was once the heart of a vibrant African-American cultural scene and Mayor Coleman has made its revitalization a personal crusade. A community-based planning effort has created a vision for building residential, retail and creative space as well as a business incubator, and private investment has already converted an abandoned warehouse into a performance and studio space supplemented by an art gallery, coffee shop and farmer’s market. Grant funding is going into the development of a makerspace and community workshop.
Go to the App Store on the iPhone or Android and search for MyColumbus. Downloading this app (rated 3.5 out of 5 by users as of June 2012) will put the City of Columbus, Ohio, USA into the palm of your hand.
MyColumbus started out as a student project at Ohio State University. Students worked with the IT department of the city to identify open-data databases that could provide the most up-to-date information on city services, location of facilities and schedules of public events. They then built an app to access the data and turn it into easy-to-understand information. The city’s IT department was so impressed with the result that, with the students’ permission, it hired a software company to expand the app and put a professional gloss on it.
The resulting MyColumbus provides MyNeighborhood (location-based mapping and information about community resources, refuse collection and health inspections), GetActive (links to events, bike and trail guides and healthy lifestyle tips), GreenSpot (with information on sustainability) and 311 (where residents can log service and information requests). Service requests submitted via MyColumbus are resolved 3.3 times faster, on average, than telephone requests. Why? Because users can submit photos and GPS coordinates with their service requests, which helps maintenance workers show up with the right tools and materials to get the job done.
MyColumbus is so effective because of the rich data that Columbus’s IT department makes available to it. The city’s geographical information system (GIS) has hundreds of layers and supports applications including One-Stop-Shop Zoning, Utility Dashboard, Capital Improvements Planning, Fire Hydrants Inspection/Maintenance, and that all-important function in snowy southern Ohio, Snow Removal. The data derived from databases, sensors and GPS flows through to operations managers, planners, businesses and citizens in a never-ending stream.
This range of programs and applications is having measurable impact. Columbus is now one of a handful of US metros that turned a brain drain in 2005-2007 into brain gain in 2007-2009. Employment growth in skilled manufacturing has exceeded 35% over the past decade. And in 2013, Columbus was named one of the top 10 cities in the US for new college grads.
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Columbus was featured in the Intelligent Community Forum book Brain Gain.
Intelligent Community of the Year 2015
Smart21 2013 | 2014 | 2015
Top7 2013 | 2014 | 2015
Winnipeg is the capital of the Canadian province of Manitoba, located in the center of the North American continent. Winnipeg’s economy is dominated by agriculture, energy, manufacturing and a growing tech scene. 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 centers 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.
Improving Connectivity through Collaboration
Internet service in Winnipeg has long been plagued by high latency, high transport costs and frequent failures due to being routed through other provinces and even parts of the United States. To address these issues, four local businessmen began the non-profit Manitoba Internet Exchange (MBIX), the area’s only local IXP, in 2011. The exchange became operational in 2013, with initial members including Les.Net, Rainy Day, CIRA, Global Service Centre, Akamai International, Hurricane Electric, VOI Networks Inc., Adam Thompson and Packet Clearing House.
MBIX allows members to directly connect to one another over unmetered ethernet in order to exchange local Internet traffic, bypassing the need for expensive and complex routing. As of 2017, the MBIX owns and operates the ethernet switching platform used to interconnect local member networks. The IXP also offers access to an Akamai cache, local root DNS serves and a competitive transit provider to local ISPs peering on its platform. MBIX successfully attracted the global Hurricane Electric network to Winnipeg, which offers Internet transit at a fraction of the cost offered by existing local providers.
Educating the Next Generation of High-Skilled Workers
Sisler High School in Winnipeg’s historically underserved North End neighborhood is at the forefront of digital media education in Canada and has earned a reputation as an international leader in that sector. As one of Manitoba’s largest and most diverse schools, serving over 1,700 students from a wide variety of backgrounds, the school has taken steps to serve all its students by establishing the CREATE program in 2015. The CREATE program includes 24 different creative courses, including classes in animation, concept art, film, sound design, visual effects, graphic design, photography, motion graphics, game design, virtual reality and app development. It combines technical training courses with industry mentorship and access to internship opportunities, providing students with the tools they need to pursue high-skilled employment after graduation. Since 2015, the program has grown from 180 students to over 1,000—more than half of Sisler High School’s total student body—and has established the provincial curriculum framework for Motion Picture Arts education and Interactive Digital Media education.
In 2019, Sisler High School expanded the CREATE program to include an 8-hour post-graduate pilot program focused on job readiness and post-secondary pathways to employment. Of the post-graduate program’s first 26 students, 11 are employed in the industry with an additional 10 receiving full-ride scholarships to Vancouver Film School. Based on the pilot program’s initial success, the school expects to see even more scholarships provided to students in 2020.
North Forge Technology Exchange
The North Forge Technology Exchange is an innovation-based economic development agency in Winnipeg that provides entrepreneurs with award-winning mentors, subject-matter experts and a two-stage startup program that includes business training and access to financing. It was conceived by the teams behind The Eureka Project, AssentWorks, Ramp Up Manitoba and Startup Winnipeg working in collaboration. The North Forge Technology Exchange is Canada’s largest non-profit fabrication workshop, providing access to digital fabrication and prototyping equipment as well as training and support. Its services include cloud hosting for development servers, web servers, file servers and production environments; the UX Lab, which offers assistance with user and usability testing and stakeholder interviews; the Advanced ICT Lab, a digital maker space; and a subscription market intelligence platform. As of mid 2020, the North Forge Technology Exchange has produced over 3,500 developed prototypes, 83 currently in-development businesses with 94 new companies accepted to the Exchange and 141 companies currently in the application process, over 75 new jobs, a network of over 45 mentors in various industries and over $137 million in capital investment.
Winnipeg has formed partnerships linking employers like Canadian Tire to the University of Winnipeg, an ICT association and other public-private groups to improve the supply of skilled employees. The Composite Innovation Centre (CIC), a public-private R&D organization, has developed technologies and supply chains for high-performance composites based on agricultural materials such as hemp and flax, which reduces costs for employers like Boeing and Magellan Aerospace. CIC’s success has led to the creation of a national consortium, Canadian Composites Manufacturing R&D, to conduct pre-competitive R&D for multiple companies. CIC also has a training program that gives Winnipeg students on-the-job experience and supports skills development in companies.
Closing the Digital Divide
Winnipeg has leveraged its public library system as a way to close the digital divide among citizens. The library provides free access to 350 public computers with Internet access and a variety of MS Office software for public use. Library staff have created online resource guides on topics including employment, health, Indigenous resources, learning languages and consumer information to help patrons access its 40+ online learning databases. The library also provides free computer workshops on topics from basic email and Internet search training to more advanced courses on MS Office software usage. The library’s free WiFi network has seen nearly 500,000 wireless connections made per year since its establishment.
To make its many resources more easily available to the public, the Winnipeg library system has added self-checkout technology and an online information service that tracks questions and answers for future reference by staff. The West End Library branch in Winnipeg became the first in Canada to introduce smart lockers, allowing patrons to pick up and check out requested items outside of library hours. The Winnipeg Public Library has also developed a mobile app, WPL to Go, that allows users to search the catalogue, place holds, browse library programs, find their nearest branch and link to other library functions. In 2020 alone, the library website had over 10 million visits with roughly 1.3 million digital library checkouts of e-books, audiobooks, magazines, movies and music.
The Digital Voices Project originated at Winnipeg’s largest secondary school. Oral storytelling is a vital part of aboriginal culture in Manitoba, and the Project provides students with digital skills training and supports them in building personal, familial and cultural stories across multiple media. The University has established a drop-in facility for inner-city residents, the Wii Chiiwaakanak Learning Centre, where visitors benefit from free computer access as well as academic, traditional language and homework help programs. This supplements the free Internet access and ICT workshops available throughout the Winnipeg library system. Among Winnipeg’s most innovative developments for its First Nations residents is the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN), the first national aboriginal TV network, for which more than 80% of programming originates in Canada. A social media offshoot, APTN Digital Drum, allows aboriginal youth to express their cultural identity and connect with each other.
Home to North America’s oldest ballet company, Winnipeg also has a thriving arts and culture scene. An independent film from two Winnipegers, Indie Game: The Movie, won awards at the Sundance Festival and was a New York Times Critic’s Pick. Funded on Kickstarter, it tells the inside story of the creation of a video game. In its funding, development and ultimate success, the film is a symbol of Winnipeg’s ambitions and achievement.
21 Reasons Winnipeg is One of the World’s Smartest Communities in 2021
For the ninth time in the past 11 years, Winnipeg is on the Intelligent Community Forum’s Smart21 list. The Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) is a think tank with a global network of cities and regions. Its mission is to help communities in the digital age find a new path to economic development and community growth – one that creates inclusive prosperity, tackles social challenges, and enriches quality of life. Every year it chooses 21 communities across the globe that excel in six areas that embrace these ideas. Read the full story at economicdevelopmentwinnipeg.com to see all 21 reasons!
Intelligent Community of the Year 2021
Smart21 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2016 | 2018 | 2019 | 2020 | 2021
Top7 2014 | 2016 | 2018 | 2021
Waterloo is the smallest, geographically speaking, of seven cities that make up Canada's Technology Triangle. Small in size it may be, but this second-time Top Seven honoree casts a big shadow in terms of technology-based growth. The Triangle itself is home to 334 technology companies and another 404 providing related services that employ about 10% of the labor force, but account for 45% of job growth.
Among the seven communities, Waterloo is home to 40% of the high-tech firms. Its recent history illustrates the power of getting a few critical things right and then working together to nurture and manage the resulting success over time.
The community's first and perhaps most important "right thing" took place at the University of Waterloo. The University was founded in 1957 by two businessmen, Gerald Hagey and Ira Needles, who saw an opportunity to create a high-level technical institution to train local business leaders. In the 1970s, the University established an intellectual property policy that was unheard of in its day. The policy allowed students and faculty members to own rights in intellectual property they developed at the University.
The University's timing was excellent. When the introduction of the personal computer began a decades-long wave of ICT growth, Waterloo was positioned to benefit. Like Stanford University in Silicon Valley, it spurred spin-outs of technology-based businesses, and local entrepreneurs began to build clusters of companies working on the most exciting technologies of the day. Fast-forward a few decades and the Waterloo region is a place where investors have poured C$1.8 billion (US$1.5bn) over the past 10 years into acquiring privately-held technology companies. It is also the home of companies that, over the past eight years, made up 10% of successful IPOs on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Publicly-held technology companies in the Waterloo region have generated a 26% internal rate of return since 1994, according to Pricewaterhouse Coopers, and the original investors in firms that were acquired or went public have received more than a seven-fold return on their investments. Waterloo's leading technology companies today include Research in Motion (RIM, creator of the BlackBerry), Sybase, Open Text, DALSA and Descartes Systems Group.
Today, the University offers the world's largest post-secondary co-op program serving over 11,000 students. It operates more than 50 research institutes, 12 Federal and Provincial Centers of Excellence, is a partner with the city, region and nonprofits in developing a Research & Technology Park. But it does not stand alone. Wilfrid Laurier University is home to one of Canada's largest business schools as well as the Schlegel Center for Entrepreneurship, while the Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning has earned a #1 ranking from the Province of Ontario for eight straight years.
Engaging Business, Citizens and Government
The community's second "right thing" was a local government that has engaged actively with business and citizens in planning for a prosperous future. A Strategic Resource Information Plan developed in 1990 set the pattern for data-sharing and integration among agencies and pointed the way toward the 1998 introduction of the award-winning, Internet-based Waterloo Information Network. Today, Waterloo offers a wide range of online services, from the minutes of council meetings and city program registration to tax assessment tools, interactive GIS maps and marriage license registration.
In 2000, the city undertook a year-long project called Imagine!Waterloo. This city-wide public consultation aimed to determine the best possible future for the city. Its recommendations ranged from environmental protection to transportation, culture to city communications. An Intelligent Waterloo Steering Committee formed in 2006 - led by Jim Balsilie, co-founder of RIM, Waterloo's Mayor and University of Waterloo President David Johnston - stages events to educate business leaders, academics and citizens about the challenges Waterloo faces and engage them in setting goals for educational achievement, access to services, investment in infrastructure and social inclusion.
Collaboration and Reinvestment
The third "right thing" in Waterloo is a culture of collaboration and reinvestment. Perhaps because cooperation among business, academia and government has been so successful, folks in Waterloo make partnership a priority and are eager to give back to the community. Waterloo-based Tech Capital Partners manages C$95 million in venture capital for early-stage companies, while a group of business leaders has recently launched Infusion Angels to find and fund ideas from University of Waterloo students and alumni. UW and Wilfrid Laurier jointly run a Launchpad $50K Venture Creation Competition for students, researchers and community members who develop business plans and start successful businesses. Successful entrepreneurs have also reached into their pockets to fund or contributed their time to the founding of the Center for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, Institute for Quantum Computing, Center for Wireless Communications, the Waterloo Technology StartUp Network, and Communitech, a capacity-building association focusing on technology in the region. Each fall, the Waterloo region celebrates Entrepreneur Week, North America's largest innovation festival.
Sharing the wealth extends as well to people for whom technology is more a challenge than opportunity. Like other Canadian communities, Waterloo participates in the Federal Community Access Program that places Internet workstations in public access locations. Waterloo's public libraries have become ICT learning centers that, thanks to company donations, lend laptops as well as books. Through Wilfred Laurier's Center for Community Service-Learning, nearly 1,000 students a year engage with 200 local partner organizations in programs that connect community service to classroom learning. Business and nonprofit organizations have joined forces to create the Waterloo Region Immigrant Employment network to help match recent immigrants to job opportunities, while the Waterloo Public Library has developed an online portal, ProjectNOW, to provide settlement and labor information to newcomers.
With 76% of businesses and 47% of households on broadband, and 75% of adults using the Internet, Waterloo is already a broadband economy success story. The challenge the community has set itself is to sustain and accelerate its success in a global economy that competes harder for investment, talent and ideas with each passing year.
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Waterloo was featured in the Intelligent Community Forum book Brain Gain.
Labor Force: 55,551
Intelligent Community of the Year 2007
Smart21 2006 | 2007
Top7 2006 | 2007
Toronto has both the assets and the liabilities that come with being Canada’s largest city. On the asset side is its diverse economy, with key clusters in finance, media, ICT and film production, and success as a magnet for immigrants that have made it one of the most multicultural cities in the world. Major carriers offer high-quality broadband to 100% of residents, and its five major universities and multiple colleges have attracted 400,000 students and helped ensure that Toronto has more residents with undergraduate degrees that London.
Improving the Urban Experience
On the liability side are the highest cost of living in Canada and transportation gridlock that gives residents of the Greater Toronto Area the world’s longest average commute times. These factors have contributed to the success of suburbs in attracting new and existing businesses, making once-sleepy cities like Mississauga into business hubs in their own right. To reverse this trend, Toronto is doubling down on the value of a dense, superbly equipped and culturally rich urban experience. The centerpiece is Waterfront Toronto, North America’s largest urban renewal project, which is revitalizing 800 hectares of brownfield shoreline with 40,000 residential units, parks and one million square meters of commercial space designed to the highest environmental standards. Offering 1 Gbps fiber-based broadband– provided at no cost to the 10% of housing set aside for low-income residents – the Waterfront is expected to offer a home to 40,000 new jobs focused on knowledge industries. Early commercial tenants include the Corus Entertainment and the George Brown College Health Sciences campus.
Future on the Waterfront
Though impressive in size and scale, the Waterfront is only the most visible of many public-private collaborations through which the city is pursuing an ICT-powered future. The MaRS Discovery District supplies housing, incubation, acceleration and investment services to hundreds of early stage portfolio companies downtown, while the Ryerson University Digital Media Zone gives entrepreneurs space and services to move great ideas to initial commercial success. The Centre for Social Innovation does the same for social innovators and its successful model has led to operations across four locations in two countries. Toronto’s libraries offer computers and training to tens of thousands, while outreach programs equip families with inexpensive IT, connectivity and training. With C$2 billion planned for transportation investment over the next 25 years, Toronto is preparing the physical, human and digital infrastructure for continued success.
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Toronto was featured in the Intelligent Community Forum book Brain Gain.
Labor Force: 1,423,270
Intelligent Community of the Year 2014
Smart21 2013 | 2014
Top7 2005 | 2013 | 2014
The largest French-speaking city in North America, the Montréal Metro Area is home to more than a tenth of Canada’s population. The region was hit by the decline of heavy industry in the Eighties, and launched a large-scale transition of its economy to ICT, aerospace, life sciences, health technologies and clean tech. Together, these clusters contain more than 6,250 companies employing about 10% of the workforce.
A Smart City plan introduced in 2014 is the most recent contributor to this transition. It focuses on further build-out of the city’s wired and wireless broadband infrastructure, as well as deploying technology to make city services and systems more efficient and creating a collaborative ecosystem involving business, institutions and citizens.
The city owns its own electric utility, which has contributed to an 81% Internet penetration rate, with most connections at high speed. Current plans call for build-out of free WiFi across the 17 square kilometers of the central city. An open “citizen laboratory” already invites participation in incubating social technologies. An aggressive train-the-trainer program operates from 85 centers to equip community leaders with digital skills, which also help the significant portion of the population who struggle with basic literacy, a legacy of the city’s industrial past.
Montréal en Histories
The city of Montréal has 161km of fiber optic cable, which will more than double over the next two years. That network provides the backbone for MTL WiFi, which offers 8 Mbps per user and gained 50,000 unique users in its first month of deployment. The rollout began in Montréal’s historic district and provided the digital infrastructure for the Montréal en Histories project. Funded by the city and executed by producers of the famed Cirque de Soleil—which was founded in Montreal and still has its center of operations there—the project memorializes important periods in Montréal’s history in the form of videos projected at night on the walls of buildings throughout the Old City. Interested passersby can use a phone- and tablet-based app to activate the videos and delve more deeply into the content. One striking video addresses racial history with two side-by-side tales: one of black slave girl accused of setting a catastrophic fire who was tortured and hanged on little evidence, and another on the early career of Jackie Robinson, who played for Montréal and received the strong backing of his teammates in the face of public discrimination.
Knowledge is Power
The metro area’s universities graduate more students from higher education than any other Canadian city. Over 415,000 students earned an undergraduate or graduate degree there from 1998 through 2008. Montréal institutions also received more than 160,000 registrations for e-learning in the 2011-12 school year, while a specialized program is training hundreds of teachers in the use of digital technologies. This educational foundation feeds into the region’s fast-growing knowledge economy, which is a major focus of policy. Montréal operates six Learning Labs specializing in areas from transportation to healthcare and urban planning, and has deployed an online collaboration system to engage its ICT cluster (some 5,000 companies) in more open innovation. Accelerator programs and co-working spaces foster an expanding start-up culture, with the arts and media playing a significant role; Cirque de Soleil is a Montréal company.
Youth Fusion is an inspiring program that targets youth at risk of dropping out of Montréal’s schools. Gabriel Bran Lopez, an immigrant from Guatemala, founded the program as a serious, long-term effort to engage such students and help them achieve their highest potential in the future workforce. Youth Fusion places university students in classrooms for 30-40 hours per week to help students learn robotics, fashion design, cinema, entrepreneurship, video game technology and a variety of other topics. The program pays these university students for their time and effort with fundraising from local businesses, who are eager to see more future employees trained in the skills they need.
Youth Fusion programs are organized as contests running over several months, culminating in selection of winners, often by judges from local industries. Through their work, the students learn French, math, art, leadership and teamwork—and also learn that they can enjoy being in school. The program was originally introduced as a pilot in 2 schools with 7 university coordinators and has grown to include 200 university coordinators working in 92 schools with 40 corporate supporters and partners across the province. Youth Fusion was recently named the most effective charity in Canada, generating C$16 in social value for each C$1 investment.
Quartier de l’innovation
Montréal’s innovation quarter, the Quartier de l’innovation (QI), was launched in May of 2013 by two universities: the École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS) and McGill University and is now evolving to include Concordia University as well. The QI is an innovation ecosystem in the heart of Montréal designed to boost the city’s potential for creativity by combining the strengths of many education institutions and businesses in one place.
To create such an ecosystem, Montréal is making use of the dynamic community that has already grown in the area. Home to many artists and cultural and non-profit organizations, the area also houses close to 100,000 students between the three universities. The QI also boasts 250 companies employing 20,000 people with the largest concentration of information technology and multimedia workers in all of Canada. As it continues to grow, the QI helps the nearby area grow with it by drawing new businesses and residents, leading to a total of $6B in property development and municipal investment since its inception.
The QI’s main strategy is integration of key segments in the sector: the industrial segment, the education and research segment, the urban segment and social and cultural segments. The quarter facilitates connections between these four segments, helping organizations from each of them form strong relationships with the others to further innovation. As entrepreneurs and new companies move into the area, the QI works to aid in cross-pollination of ideas and in helping them get off the ground. The area currently houses six startup incubators, including the Centech (technological entrepreneurship center) and the CEIM (Montréal business and innovation center). The CEIM offers customized management support and related services for startups in information technology, new media, life sciences and clean industrial technologies, while Centech provides support for ventures in manufacturing technology.
The history of technology development in Montréal Metro has created a fragmented sector consisting of many small companies. The city’s economic future depends on helping those small-scale innovators to collaborate in building a bigger future, while preserving the culture and beauty that attract 3.5 million visitors to the area each year.
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Intelligent Community of the Year 2016
Smart21 2014 | 2016
Calgary is a western city of 900,000 people that is one of the fastest-growing communities in Canada. Best known as a center of the Canadian oil industry and for its annual “Stampede” celebration of its cowboy heritage, Calgary also has a significant telecommunications and wireless manufacturing base, and over 1,300 software companies with expertise in geomatics and image processing. It has more miles of optical fiber than any city in Canada, according to the Yankee Group, and broadband Internet is accessible to 99% of residences. In the ten years between 1988 to 1998, technology employment tripled to over 9% of the labor force, and technology employers include IBM, EDS, AT&T, Vertitas, Shaw Communications, Nortel Networks and TELUS.
Leading the charge to build a Digital Age economy for the community is the public-private corporation, Calgary Technologies. Its projects include Calgary INFOPORT, which has succeeded in building a local information and communications technology industry; the Calgary Innovation Center, which acts as a catalyst between life sciences innovators and the venture capital community; and the Alastair Ross Technology Center incubator. In 2001, Calgary Technologies launched the ConnectCalgary project, using matching funds from the Canadian Government’s Smart Community award program. ConnectCalgary is creating online services and Web portals, public access computer terminals, and a team of trained facilitators to work with government agencies and individuals at risk. ConnectCalgary aims to provide the at-risk population of Calgary with access to the social, health and educational services they need to become more independent and productive members of the community. With this latest program, Calgary has demonstrated leadership in closing the Digital Divide in western Canada.
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Intelligent Community of the Year 2002 (co-honoree)
Glasgow, Scotland was a leader in Britain’s Industrial Revolution and, before the World Wars, one of the richest cities in Europe. But in the post-war years, the city suffered the intense decline common to many former industrial centers, as industries from shipbuilding and mining to heavy manufacturing lost their competitiveness. In the 1980s, this city of over 600,000 people began a transformation of its economy to stress services, culture and tourism, backed by large-scale government investment in redevelopment.
Environment for E-Commerce
Steady progress was made, yet by 1996, Glasgow still suffered a 16.8% unemployment rate. Then in 1998, the British Government published a Competitiveness White Paper that set out a commitment to make the UK “the best environment in the world for e-commerce.” Based on this framework, Scottish Enterprise, a regional agency, engaged a wide range of stakeholders in this transformation and, through consultation, set specific goals for Scottish progress in becoming an e-commerce hub. The goals included ensuring that, by 2002, at least half of Scottish small and midsize enterprises would have Internet connections and one-third would be engaged in e-commerce; and that 20% of all new business start-ups would be e-commerce companies by the spring of 2001. The Scottish Executive has since established two major programs to help meet these goals. Digital Scotland aims to ensure that Scotland obtains and retains maximum economic and social advantage from ICT, while a Knowledge Economy Task Force is charged with ensuring the development of a broad-based knowledge economy for Scotland.
60% Decrease in Unemployment
Glasgow has become a natural focal point for these national and regional policy initiatives. Telecommunications are 100% digital and highly competitive, with costs among the lowest in Europe. Glasgow will be one of the first European cities to go live with 3G wireless service, and British Telecom has chosen Glasgow as the location for its Data Hosting facility, the largest in the UK. Huge investment is being made in the city by both public and private sectors, including a £300m program to develop 2m square feet of new office space in the financial services district that will accommodate 20,000 jobs, and new high-speed broadband infrastructure. By 2000, the unemployment rate had dropped to 6.9% of the working age population, a 60% improvement that matched Scotland’s average and was only slightly above the UK average of 5.6%. Work on Glasgow’s transformation continues, focusing on accelerating business uptake of technology, promoting the growth of e-commerce support industries, and injecting e-commerce into Scottish education and training.
Intelligent Community of the Year 2004
The city of Stockholm stands on fourteen islands on Sweden's south-central east coast. According to legend, the city's name tells you how it was born: as a fortress made of logs ("stock") on an island (“holm”) guarding the entrance to lake Mälaren. Stockholm has been Sweden´s political, cultural and economic center since the 1200s.
Sweden has charted its own economic and political course throughout the 20th Century. Stockholm was spared the destruction of two world wars and saw its economy boom in the post-war years, when Sweden instituted very high levels of social spending that consumed almost 50% of GDP in taxes. The bursting of a real estate bubble in the early Nineties caused a severe economic crisis, in which employment fell 10% and a run on the currency forced the Central Bank to briefly raise interest rates as high as 500% in an unsuccessful effort to defend a fixed exchange rate. In 1994, with a budget deficit exceeding 15% of GDP, the national government instituted multiple reforms and slashed spending to put its financial house in order. The result was to strike a new and apparently sustainable balance between cradle-to-grave social benefits for citizens and strong economic growth based on knowledge, creativity and innovation.
One out of every eleven Swedes lives in Stockholm, and in the first decade of the new century, their city has continued to find way to make "big" work better. The economy benefits enormously from Stockholm's status as the political and cultural capital. Most of the country's head offices and one in three foreign-owned companies are located there. Nearly one in three new Swedish companies is located in the county of which Stockholm is the capital. Education levels are high (51% of Stockholmers have studied at university levels compared with 35% nationwide) and average salaries are proportionally higher. By law, Swedish cities must deal with everything from childcare to the burial of a person, though in practice, much of the work is outsourced to private companies. The City of Stockholm is one of Sweden's biggest employers, with 42,000 employees (one for every 19 citizens) and a budget of 37.4 billion kronor (3.9bn Euros or US$4.6bn). Its efficiency and effectiveness inevitably go a long way toward determining the economic competitiveness of the city.
The Stokab Model
During the early Nineties crisis, the City of Stockholm decided to pursue an unusual model in telecommunications. The city-owned company Stokab started in 1994 to build a fiber-optic network throughout the municipality as a level playing field for all operators. Stokab dug up the streets once to install conduit and run fiber, closed them up, and began offering dark fiber capacity to carriers for less than it would cost them to install it themselves. Today, the 1.2 million kilometer (720,000-mile) network has more than 90 operators and 450 enterprises as primary customers and is now in the final year of a three-year project to bring fiber to 100% of public housing, which is expected to add 95,000 households to the network. Stockholm's Mayor has set a goal of connecting 90% of all households to fiber by 2012.
As an information utility, the Stokab network has become an engine for driving efficiency in every aspect of government. The City's Web site hosts a huge range of applications through which citizens can request and receive service online, from applying for social housing for the elderly to a schools portal that facilitates collaboration among students, teachers, school administrators and parents or guardians. Over 95% of renters use the housing department's portal to find apartments, and the library portal provides online access to the content of 44 individual libraries. After pilot projects in 2005, the city has also instituted a contact center to handle inquiries and complaints from offline citizens and to support users of e-services. There is a special telephone line for the elderly to call.
Much of the efficiency gain happens inside the walls of government offices. Stockholm uses a Web-based tool to manage its operations at all levels from the Municipal Assembly to schools and housing for the elderly. The system aims to automate routine administrative tasks, such as accounts payable and applying for vacation time, and encourage collaboration across agencies. Citizens can follow City Council meetings through Internet video, Internet radio and broadcast radio, as well as having online access to the minutes and documents of each meeting. The city is investing about 650 million kronor (59m Euros or US$72.2m) in developing the various services and in using IT to reduce operating costs and improve citizen services. To prevent redundant investments, Stockholm has introduced a coordination program through which agencies apply for funding for e-service projects from a central office.
In 2007, the City of Stockholm published Vision 2030, identifying the key characteristics the city aimed to have by that year. In 2030, according to the plan, Stockholm would be a world-class metropolis offering a rich urban living experience, the center of an internationally competitive innovation region, and a place where citizens enjoyed a broad range of high-quality, cost-effective social services. All employees of the city receive online training three times per year on the goals of the program and the changing nature of their responsibilities. The city also uses Web-based tools to track progress toward its goals and publishes good examples on the city-wide intranet to inspire others.
For over a century, Sweden has been an export economy. Timber, iron ore and hydropower remain important exports but 50% of Sweden's output now comes from its engineering sector, including telecom, automobiles and pharmaceuticals. These are the industries in which Stockholm leads. The big pharmaceutical company AstraZenica manages its global life sciences research in the Stockholm region. ABB, a global leader in automation and robotics, has R&D facilities in nearby Vasteras (a 2006 Smart21 Community). Ericsson, one of the biggest names in network equipment and related services, does most of its R&D in Stockholm's Kista Science City.
Kista got its start in the mid-Seventies as a mixed-use satellite city combining workplaces and apartments. Several companies including Ericsson and IBM placed factories or facilities there, and small to mid-size companies began locating there to gain access to them. In 1985, the City of Stockholm decided that Kista needed more active management and brought together stakeholders, companies and universities in a non-profit foundation to encourage knowledge transfer. This motivated several research institutes to start operations there, including a branch of the Royal Institute of Technology and the computer-science school of the University of Stockholm. As the ICT cluster gained momentum, Stockholm created the Kista Science City Company and the Stockholm Innovation and Growth (STING) incubator. Today, about 31,000 people work in Kista Science City, which houses 1,400 different companies of all sizes. WIRED Magazine, in a review of technology clusters around the world, ranked Kista second, beaten only by Silicon Valley.
In addition to Kista, Stockholm economic development efforts focus on its life sciences cluster, ranked third in Europe, and on its clean tech industry, consisting of 2,700 companies with annual export growth of 16%.
City government is a significant customer for clean tech, currently investing 1.7 billion kronor (160m Euros or US$207m) in energy-efficiency equipment. This has been characteristic of Stockholm since the mid-1990s. City government believes in making big investments of money, resources and time in the economy and society without neglecting the need to make sure that "big" continues to get better. On February 23, 2009 the City of Stockholm was appointed the first Green Capital of Europe by the European Commission. Stockholm was appointed for its holistic vision that combines growth with sustainable development and includes the ambitious target of becoming independent of fossil fuels by 2050.
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Labor Force: 442,500
Intelligent Community of the Year 2009
The Eindhoven Region, south of Amsterdam, is a very successful place. Officially designated in Dutch as Samenverkingsverband Regio Eindhoven (SRE), the region has long been the industrial center of Holland, with 730,000 inhabitants and a workforce of 400,000. Its major cities are Eindhoven (pop. 212,000), Helmond (88,000) and Veldhoven (43,000).
Eindhoven generates €24 billion of GDP and €55 billion in exports, one-quarter of the Dutch total. It absorbs 36% of all private Dutch R&D spending and is home to globally recognized companies including Philips, the healthcare, lighting and consumer product giant, and ASML, maker of photolithography equipment for the production of silicon chips. Eighteen percent of all Dutch automotive jobs are in Eindhoven, and nine percent of all life technology employment. The Eindhoven University of Technology, with more than 7,000 students, is considered one of the top three research universities in Europe. The High Tech Campus Eindhoven founded by Philips houses over 80 companies employing another 7,000 residents.
Yet the region faces major challenges, and its ability to rise to them will determine whether its success can continue.
Eindhoven is a manufacturing center in a high-cost country. By focusing on producing high-value, technology-based products, it is in competition with fast-growing manufacturing centers in nations with much lower costs. Many are striving mightily to perfect the complex manufacturing capabilities that have made Eindhoven successful, which creates unceasing pressure for the region to boost productivity. Foreign competitors are also seeking to raise their own game in R&D and knowledge creation, and Eindhoven, which generates 50% of all Dutch patents, needs to stay ahead of the curve.
At the same time, however, Eindhoven is saddled with Europe’s demographics, in which a low birth rate and aging population is reducing the regional labor force. To win the battle for the talent that provides its competitive advantage, the region must make itself economically and socially attractive to knowledge workers from around the world.
The Brainport Model
Eindhoven’s answer to these challenges is a public-private partnership called Brainport Development (www.brainport.nl). Its members include employers, research institutes, the Chamber of Commerce, the SRE, leading universities and the governments of the region’s three largest cities. A small professional staff meets regularly with stakeholders to identify their strengths, needs and objectives, then looks for opportunities for them to collaborate on business, social or cultural goals. Any stakeholder of Brainport has the opportunity to create new initiatives or partner with other stakeholders. Their work is based on a strategic plan called Brainport Navigator 2013 (with a 2020 version in the works funded in part by the Dutch government). It calls for focusing on five key areas for development: life technologies, automotive, high-tech systems, design and food & nutrition.
It sounds simple enough, and little different from strategies and collaboration groups at work in cities and regions around the globe. It could even be derided as a “talking shop” in which endless meetings take the place of action. But that would be a mistake.
Take healthcare. The region already has about 825 businesses active in the health sector, which employ 17,000 people. To drive further growth, Brainport created a project called Brainport Health Innovation (BHI). Its goals are to foster increased well-being for the elderly and chronically ill, to reduce healthcare costs and increase productivity, and to do so while generating economic opportunities for the region.
The total cost of regional healthcare is forecast to rise from €17bn now to €25bn by 2020, in large part because of the need for 100,000 new healthcare workers to meet demand. BHI’s conservative goal is to improve productivity by 1 percent per year, which would reduce demand for new personnel by 25,000 and save about €750 million. Meanwhile, BHI’s work expects to generate 150 new companies employing at least 10,000 people. It is a conscious effort to reduce employment demand in one area in order to increase it in another, where the region as a whole can benefit more.
BHI has involved hospitals, insurance companies, technology manufacturers local government and individual patients to design and implement realistic technology solutions that offer a profitable operating model. In the works are the Living Lab eHealth project, in which aging people test new services and products introduced by the BHI participants, including remote monitoring and diagnosis over broadband.
A Care Circles project aims to more efficiently share capacity among providers for home care of the elderly and disabled. The longer such patients can be cared for at home, the happier they generally are and the lower the costs of their care. The nighttime hours represent the biggest challenge to home care. Through Care Circles, all calls go to a central dispatch, which matches the location to the partner organization closes to the patient. The result is better quality and availability of care at a lower total cost.
Track Record in Collaboration
Some partnering, some pre-commercial testing, some cost-sharing – at first glance, the BHI projects sound worthy but hardly enough to light up the night. But that is the Brainport method. Bring together the players from business, government, institutions and citizens groups. Figure out specific projects on which they can cooperate for clear mutual benefit. Then manage the projects carefully until they produce results and gain the ability to become self-sustaining.
The range of Brainport projects is extraordinarily wide. The Automative Technology Center involves 125 organizations in collaborative projects that, from 2005 to 2008, generated €4.5m in new investment. The start-up of new high-tech systems and ICT companies is stimulated by incubators with names like Catalyst, Beta II and the Device Process Building.
Design Connection Brainport manages a wide range of projects in design and technology, in order to encourage the industrial design expertise that is as essential as information technology to all of the SRE’s industrial clusters.
Paradigit is a systems integrator founded in a university dormitory that built a fast-growing business producing build-to-order PCs and name-brand systems. Through membership in Brainport, the company identified an opportunity that turned into a program called SKOOL. This program pro-vides over 800 Dutch primary schools with a combination of hardware and software that vastly simplifies the integration of information technology into education. Students receive SKOOL laptops from Paradigit. When students start up the laptops for the first time, the systems automatically connect to the SKOOL server, download all of the applications specified for that school and configure themselves. SKOOL provides remote management of all servers and PCs at its client schools, as well as an online interface for students and teachers to communicate and share content securely. So "bullet-proof" are the hardware and software that SKOOL's technical support department consists of just three people.
The Taskforce Technology, Education and Employment program (abbreviated TTOA in Dutch) focuses on promoting the interest of young people in engineering, attracting foreign knowledge workers, career counseling and lifelong learning. A project called Technific has created an award-winning game called Medical Investigators, in which the student is an investigator accused of committing a crime. His goal is to prove his innocence by collecting evidence throughout the game using an electron microscope, infrared equipment and DNA testing. Each completed experiment helps the students advance to the next level. Another 1,500 kids take part in BrainTrigger, in which they work with local companies to develop innovative solutions in the fields of sustainability, mobility, safety and health.
Responding to Crisis
As the financial crisis gripped the region, TTOA funded research projects for more than 2,000 workers who faced layoffs in order to preserve their skills until the economy recovered. An additional €670,000 went to retraining personnel within businesses. A Dutch entrepreneurs organization identified Helmond, the SRE’s second largest city, as offering the Netherland’s best response to economic crisis.
TTOA also goes on the road to international career fairs in the US, Europe, Turkey, India and China to promote opportunities in the Eindhoven region. Its Expatguideholland.com Web site provides information and services to smooth the path of highly-skilled immigrants and their families.
Information and communications technologies are also brought to bear on creating a quality of life that attracts and retains the digitally literate. Digital City Eindhoven attracts a half-million visitors monthly to a Web-based social media tool that encourages residents to learn more about the region. A WMO Portal involves 20 organizations in answering resident questions on health care, social services and housing. Bestuuronline puts political meetings in the city of Eindhoven online, while Virtual Helmond involves residents of that city in decision-making about planning, building designs and street furniture.
An online game called SenseOfTheCity allows anyone with a GPS-equipped mobile phone to create a personal map of the city and identify what they like best and least. A 12-day festival called STRP, which attracts 225,000 visitors, features music, film, live performances, interactive art, light art and robotics. GLOW is another festival that celebrates Eindhoven's history as home to the Phillips lighting division. The center of the city of Eindhoven is transformed for 10 days into an open-air museum of design in light, much of it interactive, for 65,000 visitors.
The Enabling Infrastructure
The most long-standing innovation projects of Brainport and the SRE concern broadband. From 1999 to 2005, the Dutch government funded a pilot program called Kenniswijk (“Knowledge City”) to subsidize installation of fiber to the home. The program ended after connecting 15,000 homes, but it was followed by a classic Brainport project: Be-linked, which brought together companies, institutions, social organizations, governments and residents to promote broadband deployment and applications. Over the ensuing years, it has stimulated a remarkable range of activity.
A commercial provider, Reggefiber, has aggressively expanded in municipalities where at least 40% of residents commit to taking service. It is now serving more than 230,000 households. Eight industrial parks, backed by loan guarantees from the city of Eindhoven, have installed their own fiber networks. The City of Eindhoven has offered its 100+ schools service on a fiber network at low fixed costs, as well as help in using it streamline management processes and improve teaching outcomes.
A nonprofit Eindhoven Fiber eXchange Foundation, established by the city of Eindhoven and the Eindhoven University of Technology, interconnects service providers throughout the region to let them make the most efficient use of assets. Its members include a broadband consortium of 21 social organizations, which share their own networks through the exchange. In 2010, eight of the region’s 21 municipalities set up a €2.4m fund to create a virtual regional network made up of interconnected service providers.
In the small village of Neunen, two residents succesfullly lobbied the Dutch government to capitalize deployment of a fiber network, called OnsNet, which achieved a 97% penetration within 3 months of start-up. That remarkable goal was achieved through a cooperative ownership model. Property owners were asked to pay for the "last-mile" connection from the core network into their buildings. The case for citizens to put their own money into operating the coop was simple: they were investing in a home improvement that would increase the value of their property.
The citizens of Nuenen own 95% of OnsNet and join technical and operational executives at meetings to identify new ideas and solve current problems. And the pace of innovation has been unceasing. An online exercise and weight-loss program, with a "virtual fitness coach," is popular. A "Window on Nuenen" channel provides access to video cameras strategically positioned around town, which allows the housebound elderly to stay connected to the life of the community. The OnsNet community TV service trains locals in the use of video equipment and makes it simple to upload video clips. Clubs and societies post video of their meetings and events. A local church offers live broadcasts of baptisms and weddings on a paid basis. Parents and grandparents chat over video with children and grandchildren far away.
OnsNet is an example of something Brainport calls “open innovation.” The Brainport nonprofit terms itself is an open innovation platform, in which many players pursue their own interests in collaboration with others, with Brainport acting as instigator, facilitator, negotiator and traffic cop.
The model is simple to explain in theory but hard to carry out in practice. World markets are changing fast and demographics are presenting challenges to growth all around the globe. The hope of the Eindhoven region is that years of practicing open innovation, on a foundation of information and communications technology, provide an advantage that competitors will find it hard to match.
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Intelligent Community of the Year 2011
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Estonia saw a major boom from 2004 to 2007, as loan capital poured in from Scandinavian countries.
The country’s rise from Soviet occupation, beginning in 1991, had been miraculous, but the wave of investment was more than the market could usefully absorb. When the financial crisis came, it hit Estonia and its principal city of Tallinn very hard. Several thousand companies went bankrupt and layoffs, particularly of the low-skilled, rose into the tens of thousands.
Yet beneath the froth, Tallinn has put into place the foundations of ICT-based growth that is generating a strong comeback.
Tallinn’s first wave of IT industry growth was driven by national government spending on an amazing range of e-government applications. Its return to growth has a more sustainable basis in education and entrepreneurship. With 23 universities and technical schools, Tallinn has the resources for a knowledge workforce; it has focused now on expanding access and filling demand for ICT and digital content skills.
From 2007 to 2011, Tallinn Technical University doubled participation in lifelong learning programs. The city is expanding public access computer sites and training programs for the disconnected, while a public-private project called EstWin will extend 100 Mbps broadband throughout Estonia by 2015.
Beginning in 2018, Tallinn has hosted an annual festival of education: iduEDU. At the festival, schools, kindergartens and hobby schools in region share innovations and new study methods they have developed with each other and with their students' parents. Private companies often attend the festival, where they introduce new technologies that may be useful to schools and give advice on their success stories and startup challenges. These companies provide contacts in the private sector for future collaboration with the local school systems and sharing ideas on what skills will be most valuable to the future workforce. iduEDU also includes a showcase of new adult learning solutions.
Based on the success of iduEDU, Tallinn has introduced #EduInnoLab ICT Innovation Laboratories into area schools. These competence centers focus on particular areas of ICT innovation in education, seeking new ways for the government to support schools, encourage testing and implementation of innovative learning methods and share particularly innovative schools’ methods with others.
Fostering Innovation at Home
To support local startups and attract talent from beyond Estonia’s borders, Tallinn and its educational and business partners have launched multiple incubators targeting creative services, medical and biotech, mechatronics, and ICT. Europe’s first gaming accelerator opened in Tallinn this year, and its Ülemiste City industrial estate is expanding 50% to house 250 companies, making it the Baltics’ biggest knowledge-based development.
Established in 2012, Tallinn's Prototron competition aims to help new startups grow and thrive through prototype financing. Competition applicants include individuals and businesses with projects from all fields, including green tech, digitalization of industry, new materials, health-tech and fintech. Each year's winner receives 35,000€ funding for their prototype in addition to the valuable training, advice and useful contacts they make at the event. Since its founding, Prototron has hosted a total of 64 teams with over 700,000€ awarded for prototypes.
When the crisis struck, Tallinn moved fast to launch aid packages to get residents and companies through the bad times with their skills and ambitions intact. The value of the city’s short-term response and its long-term strategy will be proven in coming years.
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Tallinn was featured in the Intelligent Community Forum book Brain Gain.
Labor Force: 230,000
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