The countryside is in trouble. You know it. I know it. The United Nations says so. The share of the world’s population living in the countryside is shrinking as megacities grow. Opportunities for education and employment are shrinking with it, forcing bright kids to leave town to pursue their ambitions. The tax base erode, schools consolidate, services falter and stores close.Read more
Every day now, the migrants flow north by the thousands from the arc of chaos on the Mediterranean’s southern shore. Their fearful, inspiring stories grip the world and confront the nations of the European Union with yet another challenge to unity.
Whether to let the migrants in, whether to let them leave, where and how to distribute them, how generously to meet them – these are fundamental questions of policy and humanity. One answer comes from the German and Austrian citizens who flock to train and bus stations bearing food and clothing, calling out greetings to exhausted travelers. They challenge us all to find the compassion hidden in our hearts. They remind us of the many times a stranger helped us without being asked.Read more
Every year in July, we open the Intelligent Community Awards to new nominations. And every year, we find ourselves engaged in the same strange balancing act.
ICF is a global network of cities and regions with a think tank at its center. That think tank conducts research to learn how cities and regions use broadband and IT to create inclusive local prosperity, to address big social problems, and to enrich their quality of life.Read more
The ICF Summit in Toronto (www.icfsummit2015.com) had a lot of moments I will long remember.
Onstage discussions among ICF mayors, city managers and IT directors about how they are collaborating with each other across borders to build their economies.
Visionary of the Year (2014) Suneet Singh Tuli committing to provide a Toronto-based charity with hundreds of his low-cost Datawind tablets for low-income kids.Read more
If you are a property developer in a big city, I have bad news. Nobody likes you.
Okay, maybe I exaggerate. Maybe your family likes you. Perhaps your dog looks up to you. But nobody else does. And why should they? You are filthy rich. You control the places the rest of us live and work. Politicians fawn on you and bend the rules for you. Did I mention you’re filthy rich, too?Read more
Do you know anyone who is never-ending fountain of new ideas? I have known, enjoyed and been worn out by a few of them. The same is true of US President Franklin Roosevelt. He delivered one of the greatest backhand compliments in history when we said of British Prime Minster Churchill, his friend and fellow wartime leader, “Winston has fifty ideas a day, and one or two of them are rather good.”
We need these people to stretch the boundaries of what is possible. We also need to respect the many ways in which those boundaries can come snapping back on us. In our book, Brain Gain: How Innovative Cities Create Jobs in an Age of Disruption, my colleagues and I wrote about the disruptive educational innovation known as the massively open online course or MOOC. The vision is truly revolutionary: instead of attending a high-priced university, you take courses online from all of the great universities at a fraction of the cost. Three privately-funded MOOC companies were launched in the US in 2012, and universities around the world quickly followed with their own course offerings.Read more
The year 2008 was a good one for the Intelligent Community of Tallinn, Estonia. In recognition of the amazing efforts that vaulted the city from post-Soviet depression to “Baltic Tiger,” according to The New York Times, ICF added Tallinn to its list of the Top7 Intelligent Communities for the second year in a row.Read more
“In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice,” an aerospace engineer once said to me. “But in practice, I find that there often is.”
Those two short sentences sum up a lot of wisdom about the net neutrality debate.Read more
On January 22, ICF narrows its 2015 list of 21 really smart communities to a short-list of 7 intelligent ones. Those two words – smart and intelligent – are often confused or often used to mean the same thing. But I think they describe very different realities.
Every Intelligent Community we have seen is a Smart City. That is, it invests in information and communications technology (ICT) to deliver services, monitor operations and rejigger failing systems. That is good news for taxpayers, businesses and institutions.Read more