ICF welcomes the city of Sunderland to the Top Seven for an unprecedented fourth time this year. The largest city in the Northeast of England, Sunderland has quite literally risen from the ashes of the Industrial Age to create a globally competitive city prospering in the Broadband Economy. This transformation was due to neither luck nor location, but to visionary leadership, good planning and unrelenting commitment.
In the 1980s, this former shipbuilding and mining center on the North Sea, which at one time launched more ships than any other port in Europe, had a peak unemployment rate of 22%. As the last shipyard closed in 1988 and the last coal mine followed in 1994, Sunderland fell into the bottom 10% of Britain's "depressed districts." The legacy of heavy industry was a large unemployed group of low-skilled workers, many with chronic health problems. With so little local opportunity, young people fled the city, leaving behind a shrinking and aging population.
Sunderland's government responded in a way that would become a much-copied strategy for success. In 1991, it organized a volunteer group called the Sunderland Partnership, comprised of members from government, local universities, the chamber of commerce and citizen leaders representing important constituencies. The Partnership developed a vision for a new economy based on what Europeans called "telematics" - the union of telecommunications and computers. While City Council staff labored to translate this vision into measurable goals and meaningful programs, the Partnership focused on politics. Members educated their organizations and constituents about the crisis into which Sunderland had fallen, the challenges to recovery, and their vision for the future. This was to prove essential to Sunderland's success, because it created the political will and integration needed to embrace change.
The Telematics Strategy was published in 1996 to cover a 5-year period through 2001. It included training programs in call center and other Digital Age skills for the unemployed, public-access Internet kiosks and "electronic village halls" with Internet access, business incubation programs and an initial, government-funded high-speed network for a metropolitan area possessing no more than basic telephone infrastructure.
Meanwhile, the economic development staff succeeded in persuading a real estate developer to build the first speculative building of what is now Doxford International, an award-winning office park. During the 1990s, it filled and expanded, filled again and expanded again as the European headquarters of Nike and Verisign, and home to such companies as Barclays, CitiFinancial, EDF Energy and T-Mobile. These companies were attracted by the high-quality facilities in a city with attractive wage costs, a strong incentive program, and the availability of freshly-trained labor. The same team won public-sector funding from the national government and European Commission and invested it in rebuilding the derelict waterfront into a new home for the University of Sunderland, a former technical institute that had gained university status in 1992.
By 2000, Sunderland had created 9,000 new jobs. A second Telematics strategy, covering the 1999-2003 period, focused on using ICT to promote social inclusion and ensure that everyone benefited from the city's transformation into an Intelligent Community. It set new goals, including development of a publicly-owned ISP and e-government hub called the Sunderland Host, expansion of the high-speed network to businesses and community centers, and creation of a one-stop Sunderland Portal for citizens, business and government users. There was no let-up, however, in economic development efforts. In 2002, EDS opened its first data center in the North of England in Sunderland. During the three years from 2002 to 2004, Sunderland secured 72% of the new jobs entering the region, despite having just 11% of the North's population.
The latest plan, called The Sunderland Strategy (2004-07) has focused on exploiting the city's global connectivity and growing knowledge workforce to attract even more inward investment and encourage the formation and growth of small and midsize companies. For the past five years, the number of net new jobs has increased 4.87% compared with the UK average of 3.17%. Sunderland has also seen a measurable improvement in the quality of those jobs, with growth primarily in financial and customer services that offer good pay and prospects for advancement. From 2004 to 2005, gross weekly pay in Sunderland rose at three times the national average, and the average salary for full-time employees is almost double the national minimum wage.
Sunderland's transformation from industrial has-been to Intelligent Community illustrates the power of making many separate elements work in concert. For example, the city's activism about deploying broadband, and willingness to create joint ventures where necessary to reduce risks to the private sector, convinced carriers including NTL-Telewest, BT and Tiscali to provide broadband at competitive costs for speeds up to 10 Mbps. Broadband penetration has leaped from 25% two years ago to 75% today. The City Council has taken advantage of this connectivity to create an e-government portal that delivers a wide range of services to about 30,000 visitors per month. Broadband is also the medium for a Virtual Learning Environment created by the City of Sunderland College that is used by more than 20,000 students for training in information technology.
The "electronic village halls" created by the first Telematics Strategy are being expanded into multi-agency centers, which provide healthcare, housing, welfare rights, police, job-finder and other services as well youth and sports facilities. Video-conferencing links people using the centers to support staff. These are supplemented by kiosks distributed throughout the city. Sunderland has also identified and trained Community e-Champions to broaden digital inclusion at the neighborhood level, as part of a "peoplefirst" strategy that also equips social service workers with wireless PDAs from which they can instantly check databases and record service requests.
Following on the success of Doxford International, Sunderland has attracted major investment in technology office parks and incubators. The Business & Innovation Center at the Sunderland Science Park offers 200,00 sq. ft. (18,580 m2)of high-tech workspace housing 165 companies employing 1,100 people. The Rainton Bridge Business Park currently houses 150,000 sq. ft. (13,935 m2) of incubators and technology facilities and will become the site of a 400,000 sq. ft. development by Northern Rock that will put the site on course to exceed the original target of 4,000 new jobs.
The University of Sunderland, with 250 full time R&D staff, has become an innovation hub that makes business formation a priority. A Digital Media Center created with support from Sony is the most advanced facility of its kind in the UK, with 50,000 sq. ft. (4,645 m2) of film, TV and radio studios, and includes an incubation space for students setting up their own businesses. A New Ventures project facilitates the spin-out of new businesses from University research, while the University continues to expand incubator facilities and develop venture financing in collaboration with government and the private sector. A recent survey revealed that 10% of Sunderland's labor force is now self-employed - inspired perhaps by the success of local entrepreneurs like Paul Callaghan, who founded Leighton Group at the Business & Innovation Center in 1997. It is now a global business serving customers including British Airways, Lloyds TSB and Microsoft.
So successful have been its efforts to develop a knowledge-based economy that Sunderland has begun branding itself as the "Software City." It is remarkable to think that, in a single generation, the people of Sunderland have moved from slag heaps, slums and stagnation into a future built on turning knowledge into prosperity.
Labor Force: 126,100
Top7 2002 | 2004 | 2005 | 2007
Manchester is the hub of a Greater Manchester urban area of some 2.6 million people. It has a vibrant economy where, according to The Times of London, 60 international banks and 80 of the UK's top 100 companies have offices. In 2002, it hosted the 2002 Commonwealth Games, the world's second largest sporting event, and the Sportscity development created for the Games has become a valued asset.
But it is also a city of sharp contrasts. The district of East Manchester – once the hub of Britain's world-leading cotton industry – was decimated by the recessions of the 1970s and 1980s. It suffered a 60% employment loss between 1975 and 1985, when 52% of households were receiving state benefits. In 1998, two of East Manchester's electoral districts were among the top twenty on the UK government's National Index of Deprivation. As the rest of the metropolitan area has risen to the challenges of the Broadband Economy, the failure of East Manchester has become more glaring. But it has also planted the seeds of hope for regeneration.
The Eastserve Project
New East Manchester Limited is a partnership between Manchester City Council, national government agencies and the local community. It is responsible for developing and implementing a strategy to revitalize East Manchester's economy, increase employment, improve education and create more and higher-quality housing. One of its projects, Eastserve, is recognized by ICF for deploying an IT-based solution that addresses these goals while strengthening the social bonds of the community.
At first glance, Eastserve is a Web portal (www.eastserve.com), little different from government or neighborhood sites in thousands of communities. What sets it apart is the way in which it was implemented and the skills of the developers in meeting so many different goals.
Begun in 2000, the Eastserve project began by surveying residents on their needs for information and their ability to access it. Residents identified four priorities: employment and training, housing, policing and street-based services. As a result, the portal design included a virtual police station with anonymous crime reporting, a home-finder system for public housing, and online job searches and resume preparation system, among many other features.
The surveys also revealed that only 19% of residents had access to a computer. In response, Eastserve tapped a UK Government program that distributed recycled computers in deprived areas in order to launch a 2001 pilot project involving 450 households. Each household received a recycled PC or set-top box at a subsidized price, plus free dial-up Internet access for the first three months. The project also placed PCs at public access locations including police stations, housing offices and youth clubs. The pilot was successful enough to lead to a second phase that targeted 4,500 households to receive new or recycled computers, added new content to the Web portal, tied the project into IT training programs for schools funded by the e-Learning Foundation, and tackled the problems of financial exclusion.
Firing On All Cylinders
In Phase Two, Eastserve began firing on all cylinders, thanks to the down-to-earth advice offered by a Residents Panel of volunteers and volunteer Project Board. With 25% of East Manchester residents lacking any access to broadband, the project created a wireless Eastserve Broadband network that now links 1,700 households, six community centers and 14 schools and is being extended to adjoining neighborhoods. Its work with residents convinced Eastserve that they rapidly outgrew the capabilities of recycled PCs and set-top TV systems. In response, it began offering new fully-configured PCs at a higher price (£200) compared with £50 for a recycled system. Uptake was so strong that the cost of the subsidies made it necessary to scale the pilot back to 3,500 households. All residents who purchased the subsidized systems were required to attend a three-hour training course at local community centers, online centers or the local college. Eastserve also took the opportunity created by the sale of systems to involve the East Manchester Credit Union in handling all cash for the program and offering low-interest loans to residents. The loans made it possible for many more people to participate and also connected many of them for the first time to a financial institution other than loan sharks or check-cashing services.
This small-scale success is likely to set a pattern for greater progress in the future. According to Eastserve's leadership, the project has helped Manchester's City Council to understand both the potential of technology-based economic development and the need to invest in creating demand for e-government programs. With strong support from governmental leaders, the future of East Manchester looks brighter than it has in years.
Smart21 2006 | 2009
Capital of Great Britain and of the UK government's digital growth strategy.
In the 1990s, the leaders of the city of Dundee looked back on two decades of economic devastation and vowed that the future would be different. In the 19th and early 20th Centuries, Dundee had been a flourishing city known throughout Britain for trading, whaling, textiles, food manufacturing and shipbuilding. Deindustrialization took hold with a vengeance, however, in the mid 1970s. Large-scale plant closures threw thousands out of work and caused an out-migration of skills and talent. Resulting union militancy did little to improve conditions but made national headlines that reinforced Dundee's reputation as a city in terminal decline. Population losses hit the retail sector hard, discouraged inward investment, and sharply eroded quality of life.
In 1991, local government created The Dundee Partnership, a joint venture among key players including city government, the economic development agency Scottish Enterprise, universities, community groups, and the business sector. Its original focus was on the traditional tools of economic development: rebuilding the city center, developing tourist and leisure facilities and attracting corporate investment. But as the 20th Century gave way to the 21st, it became clear that more was needed. For the first time in decades, the city was experiencing net job growth, despite a continuing fall in manufacturing employment and levels of unemployment that remained well above the national average. Research revealed that Dundee's university sector - including the University of Dundee, University of Abertay Dundee, the Ninewells teaching hospital and Scottish Crop Research Institute - was driving job creation, not only in established sectors like publishing and scientific research, but in such new fields as software, animation, computer games, film and television.
Focus on New Sectors
In response, the Partnership refocused its effort on stimulating business formation in the new sectors. A government-funded Business Gateway project began providing e-business training and support to small and midsize companies, helping to improve the e-readiness of nearly 600 companies in 2004 and 2005. Moving in synch, Dundee's universities established graduate business incubators and policies promoting the spin-out of new companies. The University of Abertay Dundee opened the IC CAVE research center to support the computer game and digital entertainment sector. A £20 million (US$40m) Digital Media Park entered into development and, by 2007, opened its first phase, consisting of 100,000 sq. feet (9290 m2) of space for e-businesses. Two new marketing partnerships, bringing together public, private and academic leaders, launched Web sites, e-newsletters and conferences promoting "BioDundee" to attract life science companies and "Interactive Tayside" to the digital media sector. Several Scottish investment programs support these efforts, including Proof of Concept, which funds pre-commercial research, and SMART/SPUR, which issues grants to small-to-midsize businesses to develop innovative and commercially viable products and processes.
By 2007, the life sciences sector employed 3,900 people including 300 scientists from across the world. Wyeth Pharmaceuticals announced that it would locate the world's first translational medical research center in the city. Meanwhile, over 380 digital media businesses have opened or moved into the Tayside region, compared with 150 in 2000. They employ more than 3,000 people and generate over £100 million (US$198m) in annual sales.
Dundee has also taken digital technology to the people. The City Council's Web site began offering online payment and processes to the public in 2002 and by 2007 had collected £25 million (US$50m) in taxes and fees. With more than 60 online applications, the Web site is used by 32% of Dundee's population and received satisfactory rankings from 86% of users. In 2006 alone, it processed 60,000 transactions and collected over £8 million ($16m).
Behind the "public face" of the Web, Dundee developed a comprehensive approach to its digital relationship with citizens. It established a Citizen Account database system that captured data on citizens (with their permission) and used it to pre-fill online forms. Some of the data was amassed through issuance of the Dundee Discovery Card, which replaced 10 separate card-related services in the city, for everything from bus service and parking to social services. The Discovery Card was the first example in Scotland of a university (Abertay) and City Council sharing a single card for their different purposes. One of the outstanding benefits of the Discovery Card, in the eyes of the City Council, is that it eliminates the social stigma attached to social services cards for low-income residents. So popular has it become - with 44,000 cards issued, used by 87% of 12-18 year olds for school meals and bus travel, and 85% of +60 year olds for leisure access and bus travel - that the Scottish Government decided to deploy a multi-application card for the whole country and asked Dundee to run the program.
Digital Savvy and Community Service
This combination of digital savvy with community service is typical of Dundee. Broadband is commercially available to 100% of households, businesses and institutions in Dundee, with 48% of households and 90% of businesses currently connected. Speeds of up to 10 Mbps are available for £13-30 (US$25-60) per month. But the city also operates 300 PCs with free Internet access at locations including 12 learning centers for adults, generating 15,000 user sessions per month. At least one free-access terminal is located within 2 miles of every household in the city. A network of 350 networked bus stops provides real-time travel information to digital signs and kiosks onsite as well as to mobile phones. A professor at the University of Abertay has founded ADD Knowledge in partnership with government agencies to deliver Scotland's first home-study program for over 400,000 primary school children using next-generation video game consoles. Meanwhile, local health services use text messaging to remind patients about appointments and medications, and Dundee is proposing to become a test bed for Scotland's Project XYZ, which aims to create a WiMax network across major cities.
Dundee has come a long way since the dark days of the mid-1990s. From 2000 to 2004, the city had net employment growth of 3.4%. That average number encompassed the loss of 3,300 manufacturing jobs, a 20% growth in digital media, and 50-60% growth in life sciences jobs. New business starts rose 7% during the period and unemployment dropped, though it remains over a full percentage point higher than the average for Scotland. In 2007, the Partnership created a new group called the Digital Observatory. Its goal: to closely track Dundee's development as an Intelligent Community and provide leaders with the information they need to keep their community on the path to prosperity.
Labor Force: 80,000
Smart21 2007 | 2008 | 2010
Top7 2007 | 2008 | 2010
The UK’s second largest city, Birmingham is a study in contrasts that reflects a dramatic history. It was one of the leading cities of the Industrial Revolution but the devastating decline of manufacturing caused employment to collapse by 200,000 from 1971 to 1984, before a major renewal program grew service-sector employment to 85% of the total while manufacturing shrank to 11%. Today, Birmingham is home to major universities and has nearly half its workforce employed in knowledge-intensive industries. But less than a quarter of residents work in these industries, while half of residents live in some of the most deprived neighborhoods in the country. To spur the next wave of growth, the Digital Birmingham partnership is driving an effort to improve connectivity with development of a fiber-based Digital District. They are building digital skills with training programs in libraries, computers in low-income homes, and broadband build-outs in Council housing. Birmingham Science City is building a research cluster focusing on advanced materials, sustainable energy and advanced medicine. One of the UK’s largest government re-engineering programs promises to achieve £1bn in efficiency gain, while city hospitals are pioneering in wireless decision support systems and digital media education programs for patients and staff.
Broadband development led by city to open economy to the globe.
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.
In the News
Read the latest updates about Stockholm.
Labor Force: 442,500
Intelligent Community of the Year 2009
This manufacturing center and naval base responded to economic stagnation by building a competitor-neutral broadband network, which stimulated strong growth in broadband services and penetration (+50%), with a wireless system now under development.
The Municipality of Jönköping lies midway between Stockholm and the southern coastal city of Malmo. It is made up of 16 smaller cities, of which the city of Jönköping, with 84,000 people, is by far the largest. The remaining 48,000 citizens are spread across more than 500 square kilometers (190 square miles) of countryside. Its economic legacy is in forest products – the Jönköping exhibition center is home to the world’s largest forestry fair – but that same facility also hosts the world’s largest LAN party as well as the DreamHack events.
90% Broadband Availability
Bridging urban and rural, Jönköping faces the broadband infrastructure challenges common to such places. DSL is accessible to all, but speeds and quality of service vary widely. Jönköping is investing alongside national government to push high-speed networks beyond the urban clusters and provide 90% of companies and households with access by 2020.
Building a Knowledge Workforce
On that foundation, Jönköping is seeking to muster its human and business resources to accelerate the economy and ensure sustainability throughout its territory. The municipality is home to Jönköping University, which offers business-oriented programs at the undergraduate and graduate level. But the municipality also struggles with drop-outs who lack the skills to succeed in the modern economy. A program called Youth Arena targets young people who have dropped out of secondary school. It aims to coach and motivate them to finish their education and then find rewarding jobs in the municipality. Since 2001, Youth Arena has worked with 800 cases and provided individual coaching to more than 230, of whom 70% have gone on to further education or work.
The Innovation Runway project provides the same kind of support to companies. It coaches business owners and managers on innovation strategy and product and service development, and encourages spin-out of new companies. Launched in 2015, the program has already led to the formation of a new company providing digitized construction drawing services.
The Factory is a new program of the public library system that, inspired by the MakerSpace and CoderDojo movements, aims to build a bridge between traditional education and new creative forms of expression. It has introduced personal development courses, coding workshops and presentations on digital technology and culture.
With these projects, and a sustainability plan that will reduce its children’s exposure to hazardous chemicals in everyday use, Jönköping is pursuing a future that borrows from the new-economy prosperity of that start-up capital, Stockholm, while preserving its proud history as a trade center for Sweden’s natural wealth.
The newest district and community in Sweden, Hammarby Sjostad has incorporated “future proofing” principles based on ICF’s vision. It boasts the first broadband network in Europe to be “Access Directive” compliant under new EU rules.