St. Albert, Alberta
Founded in 1861 by Father Albert Lacome, the city of St. Albert is a striking blend of culture, history and community. St. Albert began as a small town around the Father Lacombe Chapel—which stills stands today on Mission Hill—in the Sturgeon River valley northwest of Edmonton and grew into the second-largest city in the Edmonton Metropolitan Region. In addition to the Father Lacombe Chapel, the city is home to the St. Albert Grain Elevator Park, which houses two historic grain elevators. But for a city rich in historical sites, St. Albert is most defined by its community of residents constantly striving to improve life and embrace new innovation. St. Albert Place, located at the heart of the city, is a classic example of this attitude. It was designed by a world-renowned architect as a “people place” from the start and currently houses the St. Albert Public Library where residents can gather to learn about new technologies and opportunities in the modern world. This gathering of residents from local government positions, local businesses, academia and the general public has produced St. Albert’s Smart City Master Plan.
Access for All
A core component of St. Albert’s Smart City Master Plan is providing high-speed Internet access throughout the community. St. Albert has created its own municipal fiber optic network, which now connects half of the city’s municipal buildings, intersections and assets. The city plans to expand this coverage to all assets in the near future. St. Albert is also using this network to offer licensed wholesale access to community groups, including the Chamber of Commerce and local school districts, as well as to industry.
In addition to fiber, the city is expanding its cellular service infrastructure, including building new towers, new fiber backhaul, and new microcell installations to allow citizens to use their wireless cell service everywhere. St. Albert is working with service providers as part of this initiative to offer free Wi-Fi service in public places throughout the community with most free Wi-Fi locations now up and running.
Training the Workforce of the Future
St. Albert has developed several programs to help train its younger citizens for future careers and to assist young entrepreneurs in the more difficult phases of starting up. The city operates the Collective facility where local youth can access a series of Marketplace programs. The programs include skill-building workshops—such as Ready to Rent, a course that provides education and resources for finding and maintaining housing—counselling and outreach, entrepreneurship training with highly qualified mentors available and the Building Assets and Memories (BAM) program. The BAM program has attracted dozens of youth members who have organized retreats, a youth-issues conference, foreign missions and many popular community events. In addition to these programs, the Collective provides meeting spaces for youth to gather and exchange ideas and for entrepreneurs to get started on their companies.
Fostering an Innovation Ecosystem
To attract innovators to the city as well as provide an ideal environment for local entrepreneurs, St. Albert has partnered with residents and academic and industry leaders to establish itself as a “living lab.” Entrepreneurs and innovators can test their products, ideas, and commercialization plans in the city, making it an attractive place to build new businesses. Since becoming a living lab, St. Albert has seen resident entrepreneurs form an Innovation Council. Working together with the local chamber of commerce, business incubator and university, the Innovation Council launched the St. Albert Innovation Forum in 2017, an event open to the whole community where residents can share new ideas and debate policies for future competitiveness in the city. The Innovation Council has also created a Capital Partnership Program, a new platform to help innovators attract investors.
Digital Literacy at the Public Library
With Internet service rapidly approaching 100% availability in St. Albert, the city has turned to its library to train residents to use all the new technologies available to them. The St. Albert Public Library offers a wide array of digital literacy programs, including classes on using email, mobile devices, social media, Google apps and Microsoft Office products, as well as introductory programming, coding and game design courses. In addition to attending classes at the library, residents can also make use of the library’s Outreach Literacy Van, a mobile classroom staffed by a Community Outreach Librarian. The Literacy Van visits schools, clubs, churches and other community centers and provides a total of 60 different technology literacy programs with more being added each year. The library is currently planning a drop-in Makerspace program focusing on virtual reality, robotics and other emerging technologies to be launched sometime in 2018.
In addition to classes, the St. Albert Public Library has expanded its technological services, providing 45 public workstations with free Wi-Fi access for patrons. In 2017, these workstations saw more than 34,000 Internet work sessions. People have always been St. Albert’s greatest resource, and the city continues to nurture that resource, helping residents achieve their greatest potential and improve life for all.
Fairfield named to Smart21 list for most innovative cities
FAIRFIELD — Fairfield received a prestigious honor in February when it was named one of the most innovative cities in the world by the Intelligent Community Forum.
The organization named Fairfield to its list of “Smart21 Communities of 2023” during a virtual conference on Feb. 23. Fairfield was one of five cities in the United States to be named among the Top 21, which also included cities in countries such as Canada, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam and more.Read more
Binh Duong in world’s top 21 Intelligent Communities for five consecutive years
ICF gathers nearly 200 prosperous smart cities in the world. ICF studied and assessed hundreds of cities around the world to select the best practices of the world's Intelligent Communities based on six factors including broadband connectivity, knowledge workforce, innovation, digital equality, sustainability, and advocacy.Read more
ICF Names the Smart21 Communities of 2023
Communities from eight nations over five continents named as semi-finalists in ICF’s annual Intelligent Community of the Year Awards Program
(February 23, 2023 – New York, NY, USA) – At the conclusion of a virtual conference hosted by the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) and co-hosted by Economic Development Australia (EDA) and the Economic Developers Association of Canada (EDAC), ICF today named the world’s Smart21 Communities of 2023.
The selection of the annual Smart21 Communities of the Year marks the semi-finalist phase in ICF’s annual Awards Program. The program will conclude when ICF names the 2023 Intelligent Community of the Year in October at the ICF Summit. One of these 21 communities named today will succeed New Taipei City, the 2022 Intelligent Community of the Year.Read more
Estevan among the 21 top innovative communities in the world
ESTEVAN - Estevan has been selected as a Smart 21 Community for 2022 by the Intelligent Community Forum.
The exciting news was announced during the grand opening of the Southeast Innovation Business Development Centre on May 18.
Estevan became the first community in Saskatchewan to make it to the top, and city Coun. Rebecca Foord, who is also a part of the city's innovation council, said they are now trying to make it to the top seven and then hope to be named the No 1 Intelligent Community for 2022.Read more
Seat Pleasant, Maryland
Seat Pleasant was known in its early days as Chesapeake Junction, as it was the home of the first Chesapeake Beach Railway station. The city’s fortunes have long been tied to travel, first to the railway, which brought enough growth for incorporation in the 1930s before it closed down, and then to the George Palmer Highway, later renamed the Martin Luther King Jr. Highway. Seat Pleasant has suffered from many of the troubles common to small cities in semi-rural areas, such as low access to broadband connectivity and difficulties connecting people with other services. But like its early namesake, the city aims to become a new sort of junction in the modern world, a place where people and services connect to bring growth and hope to a stronger community.
Creating Partnerships through the Center for Government Synergism
Due to its small size, Seat Pleasant has limited resources and has therefore focused on making best use of what it has available. The City government created The Center for Government Synergism (CGS) in 2017 to promote easy cooperation between government, businesses, non-profits, educational institutions and all citizens. CGS uses data sharing, including that collected by IoT sensors, to help with all levels of decision making for the city. Since its establishment, CGS has directed the creation of the “My Seat Pleasant” app connected to a Smart City Platform titled “The Shared Services Hub.” The “My Seat Pleasant” app provides Seat Pleasant residents, businesses and city employees with multiple online features, including services requests, a library of city codes, a city document library, city directory, on-demand broadcast notifications, garbage/recycling and snow removal schedules, city job listings, an online payment portal and event and activity listings. With access to so much more data through the app, citizens and businesses are kept informed and are provided with easy ways to connect with the government and share opinions and suggestions for future legislation and other efforts.
Becoming a Test Bed of Innovation
To encourage innovation and outside investment, Seat Pleasant has branded itself the “Test Bed of Innovation,” by providing support for start-ups and established companies wishing to test new technologies and solutions. Since rebranding, the City has become host to several pilot projects, including a partnership between AECOM, Verizon and PEPCO to set up smart street light project for energy savings and intelligent traffic and public safety solutions. Another pilot project, established in partnership with the Greater Washington Board of Trade, has created digital city kiosks throughout Seat Pleasant to provide additional information to supplement the “My Seat Pleasant” app. A local IoT company, WIOMAX, in partnership with the NIST GCTC Project, launched a pilot project in Seat Pleasant for traffic management solutions, aiming to optimize the flow of vehicle, pedestrian and cyclist traffic at key intersections throughout the city.
Providing Education and Health Services for the Chronically Underserved
The City has taken further steps as the “Test Bed of Innovation” by partnering with local education institutions to create a Smart Cities Curriculum for adult retraining and advancement at Prince George’s Community College and a Remote Health Monitoring Program in partnership with the same institution and Harrisburg University. The Smart Cities Curriculum provides training in business process improvement and a high-level overview of cyber-physical systems, sensor technologies, cloud computing, data storage, data mining and business analytics as well as security and privacy challenges related to IoT. The course also explores how digital devices and data analytics can serve the needs of businesses and society and how city government can make use of data visualization to make intelligent economic and strategic decisions. Upon completing the course, students earn a certification that qualifies them for entry-level technology jobs in the Smart City space.
Seat Pleasant’s Remote Health Monitoring (RHM) program aims to promote wellness and provide access to timely, necessary health care services for aging citizens and those with disabilities. The RHM program focuses on using remote patient monitoring technology, assistive technologies, wearable IoT devices and connected devices. The data provided by these devices inform caregivers of any serious issues in time to act while allowing the residents wearing them to go about their daily lives comfortably and independently.
To further facilitate these programs and others, Seat Pleasant is leveraging its designations as an Opportunity Zone and a distressed community to access programs such as the FCC’s Lifeline program in an effort to promote greater broadband adoption. The City is also working to deploy 5G and city-wide Wifi services free of charge for impoverished citizens to support its many innovative programs. Connecting citizens, government and local businesses is at the heart of Seat Pleasant’s Intelligent Community journey, and the city strives every day to strengthen those connections for a more prosperous future.
Photo by Famartin. Used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.
How Broadband Access Unites and Divides Us
The pandemic revealed the essential role of broadband today. It also exposed as never before the dire consequences of the digital divide and the explosive impact of social media in spreading misinformation, fear and outrage. Panelists discuss what the pandemic has taught them about making broadband access more equitable and managing its downsides.
East Central Region, Minnesota
The East Central Region of Minnesota encompasses 5 counties: Chisago, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs and Pine. Like many regions of the midwestern United States, the East Central Minnesota has long had a primarily agricultural and mining-focused economy, and though the area’s iron deposits are now depleted, dairy, corn and soybean farms still dot the region, as well as paper production companies due to the region’s many softwood forests, including the Chippewa National Forest. East Central Minnesota has more recently focused on a growing tourism industry to support the area during economic transition, as the region is home to many beautiful lakes.
When local mining and, to a lesser extent, agricultural industries began to fail, the East Central Region shifted toward a service-based economy like many of its fellow U.S. communities, but the region aims to turn hardship into an opportunity for growth and attracting new industries. Beginning in 2001, the 5 counties of the region formed the Northern Technology Initiative, which is today known as GPS 45:93, the longitude and latitude coordinates of where they all meet. GPS 45:93 includes city and council economic development managers, private companies and public entities, community and regional organizations, workforce and tribal partners, all working together to improve East Central Minnesota’s ability to compete in a modern economy and attract new businesses and infrastructure investments.
Connecting Residents with the Tools to Succeed
Like many regions with major rural stretches, East Central Minnesota has struggled to bring reliable broadband access to its residents. Many citizens in the region have little access to computers or internet services, leaving them unable to participate in an increasing online economy.
While the county governments work to find the best solution for connectivity, the East Central Regional Library (ECRL) system has worked to the fill the gaps in access for all citizens. The system consists of 14 library branches and 8 outreach sites across the 5 counties as well as neighboring Aitkin. The ECRL provides access to computers, broadband internet service including free wireless access within the library branches and technical support and assistance, as well as intermittent technology training classes. The library system’s website (ecrlib.org) connects library card users to research databases such as EBSCO and Gale, online learning classes including Universal Class, Hoonuit and Mango languages and a large collection of eBooks, eAudiobooks and eMagazines containing a wealth of information and research materials. Library staff provide in-person assistance for those looking to use the ECRL’s wealth of services and also provide chat reference services 24/7 through the statewide AskMN service. Just over 50% of the region’s citizens have active library cards, and many of the library resources are accessible even without one, leading to nearly 500,000 library visits across the region in 2018 alone.
Training the Next Generation Workforce
To support a changing economy, East Central Minnesota needs workers trained in a wide variety of new and traditional skills. GPS 45:93’s workforce committee established the Innovative Approaches to Career Readiness program in 2017 and held its first event in May 2018. The event featured speakers from local high schools and academies with innovative programs already established to assist students in identifying career paths available to them in the region and providing them with appropriate advice and training. Innovative Approaches to Career Readiness aimed to bring representatives from regional high schools and local businesses together in collaboration so that high schools could create new programs to help teach the skills local businesses particularly need to succeed. GPS 45:93 followed up the May event with a tour of Cardinal Manufacturing at the Eleva-Strom High School, a student-run manufacturing company.
The region held the second Innovative Approaches to Career Readiness event in May of 2019, showcasing a panel of new schools and their students sharing programs and projects. The second event highlighted students from a culinary program, a nursing assistant program, multiple apprenticeships and CEO programs. Presenters also shared region labor market and training information, and GPS 45:93 announced the availability of grant funding for schools to start new career initiatives and projects in the future, with 3 schools receiving such grants in the same year they were announced.
Collaborating to Reduce Regional Waste
The 5 counties of East Central Minnesota joined together to form the East Central Solid Waste Commission in 1988 with the goal of establishing solid-waste disposal and recycling programs for the region. Since its founding, the commission has created joint recycling centers, landfills and compost disposal areas, as well as providing collection services for construction and demolition debris and methane for fuel production. It has passed resolutions making on-site disposal of garbage illegal, reducing many of the negative side effects of solid waste disposal throughout the region. With its infrastructure firmly in place, the commission now focuses on education and institutional awareness, providing training in best practices for disposal to promote public health and cost effectiveness. The East Central Solid Waste Commission also serves as the region’s manager for sustainability program grant applications and opportunities such as Green Corps. Residential recycling in the East Central Region has increased by 30% since instituting these training and education programs, with 88% of local businesses recycling paper, 60% recycling plastics, 47% recycling metal and glass and 38% recycling special items such as electronics and batteries. Providing convenient means to recycle such specialized items is the East Central Solid Waste Commission’s next goal for the future.
In times of increasing economic uncertainty, the East Central Region of Minnesota has focused first and foremost on itself as a community, bolstering opportunities for residents to meet whatever the future holds in store.
Elefsina, known to the Greeks as Eleusis, is a suburb of Athens, home to 30,000 people. It is a major industrial area, where most crude oil in Greece is imported and refined. Generations of unfettered industrial development has left a legacy of abandoned factories. But the European Union also named it one of three 2021 Cultural Capitals of Europe because of its rich history as a religious center and its establishment in 1975 of the Aeschylia, one of the most important theater festivals in Greece. It honors the tragic poet Aeschylus, who was born in the city.
With carbon-reduction goals crimping the growth potential of oil, the city is turning to the ICF Method to expand its economy in new directions.
A New Generation of Innovators
An early-stage adopter of the Method, Elefsina is focused on building the key components of a skilled workforce and innovation ecosystem. It is adequately served by three broadband providers, though the costs of connectivity remain high. In 2021, the city put that bandwidth to work with the launch of an Innovation Hackathon focused on smart city solutions, sustainability and agri-food and agri-tourism. Fourteen middle and high schools created teams and developed business ideas in a competition judged by university professors and entrepreneurs. As part of the program, students studied business creation and planning, business models, how to define and pitch a value proposition and basics of finance and investment.
In 2021, Elefsina hosted the third annual edition of StartupNow Forum, the largest innovation, entrepreneurship and technology conference in Greece. The conference features a Startup Innovation Competition, which evaluates the best startups in the country. The October event marked Elefsina’s “coming out” as a contender in technology innovation.
Opening the Gate
In the same year, Elefsina used national government funding to launch a Business Education and Business Gate program. The content being developed includes financial evaluation tools and briefings on national and European Union sources of funding. The Business Gate is a matchmaking program that connects local companies with each other and businesses from neighboring municipalities.
This Athens suburbs has outlined a roadmap that, with vigorous execution, can build a more diverse and innovative economy. Elefsina seeks nothing less than a local economy that, leveraging its proximity to the nation’s capital, can also stand proudly on its own.
Photo by Davide Mauro. Used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.
ICF Names the Smart21 Communities of 2022
Communities from nine nations, including Greece and New Zealand, named this year
(24 February 2022 – Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada & New York, New York, USA) – At the conclusion of a virtual conference co-hosted by the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) and Economic Development Winnipeg, ICF today named the world’s Smart21 Communities of 2022. The selection of the annual Smart21 Communities of the Year marks the beginning of the annual nine-month process which will conclude when ICF names the 2022 Intelligent Community of the Year in October at the ICF Summit. Winnipeg was the 2021 Intelligent Community of the Year.
Each of the cities, towns, or regions that appear in the Smart21 have applied the six principles of the ICF Method to begin building inclusive economic prosperity, social health and cultural richness, which together make a community strong and resilient. Most have been working on their programs for several years.Read more