The mobile communications business has been good to Oulu, and the mobile business has become a threat to its future.
This former industrial city located 200 km south of the Arctic Circle built a tech-based economy in the Eighties around the Nokia Research Center and numerous small-to-midsize enterprises (SMEs) specializing in mobile technologies, many located at the Oulu Technology Park.
The “Nokia risk” as Oulu’s leaders called it, materialized in the new century as the company failed to adapt to the rise of the smartphone and began to downsize its operations. Yet Oulu has created 18,000 new high-tech jobs since 2007, thanks to a decades-old culture of public-private collaboration and its many high-quality educational institutions, including the University of Oulu with its 16,000 students.
The city has built ICT assets such as the PanOULU free wireless network – created by merging Wi-Fi infrastructure from 17 organizations to serve 25,000 users per month – and an e-government Web portal for citizens.
In collaboration with the university and business, it has fostered multiple R&D institutes from the Center for Internet Excellence to Oulu Living Labs, where a broad range of technologies are researched and developed before being tested by residents who volunteer their time and expertise.
The city’s 2007-13 Innovation Strategy stresses the importance of human enthusiasm as a source of innovation. The strategy rests on several key assumptions: that the region has ambitious businesses, that opportunities will arise from connecting them with the potential of the global market, and that services will gain an increasing role in economic growth. But there is another assumption that distinguishes Oulu from many other places. It is that citizens of all ages should be involved in business and institutional innovation.
Whatever the fortunes of its biggest mobile technology employer, Oulu is determined to be a quiet leader in the technologies that will shape our century.
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Labor Force: 90,000
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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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Labor Force: 230,000
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With the collapse of Soviet rule over eastern Europe in the late 1990s, this capital city of one of the continent’s poorest countries set off on a perilous journey to the 21st Century. Tirana is the commercial and manufacturing center of the country, with about half of all Albania companies and three-quarters of foreign-owned enterprises. It is home to growing industries for footwear and clothing, agricultural products, mining, oil and gas, and tourism. With low Internet penetration compared to the European Union, the country’s Internet market offers high growth potential. In Tirana, broadband take-up is rising rapidly in response to increased availability and sharply lower prices. The nation’s goal is to become a “cyber-hub” for the region, with broadband penetration equal to that of the EU and ICT becoming a leading sector of the economy. Tirana is home to Albania’s only business incubator and has seen a corresponding increase in startups in sectors including advertising, design, computer services, media and publishing. The national development strategy focuses on expanding the small-to-midsize business base, including micro-enterprises, and fostering an entrepreneurial culture. The Albanian government has invested substantially in e-government applications and has encouraged the private sector to offer digital services to customers, such as online banking. And both Tirana and the nation are making strides: the World Bank Doing Business Indicators showed Albania advancing from 136th in 2007 to 82nd in 2010. In 2009, it achieved the second-highest rank among the top 10 reformers worldwide. Continued success will depend on implementing the right policies, successfully navigating the process of joining the European Union and making the most effective use of the resulting relationship.
This municipal county of 4 million has been identified by A.T. Kearny as one of two sub-Saharan cities likely to achieve developed status within 20 years. If the prediction proves true, it will mark a sharp positive turn at the end of a very long road. After its independence in 1964, Kenya gradually declined into a kleptocracy committed to embezzling public funds for personal gain. Nairobi stood out as one of most corrupt cities in East Africa. In 2007, it represented 60% of Kenyan GDP and grew its economy 6%, while nearly two-thirds of its population lived in slums. A national movement for multi-party democracy began in the late 1980s and accelerated through two tumultuous decades to culminate in approval of a new constitution in 2012. By creating the foundation of civil society, it became one of several trends building a better future for Nairobi.
Opening Up Communications
One trend was the liberalization of communications. In 1999, the country had only 300,000 landline phones and an infant mobile phone industry because the state-owned monopoly had served as a slush fund for government. The break-up of the monopoly early in the 21st Century opened the way for new entrants, among them a mobile phone operator called Safaricom.
The company introduced in 2007 a service called M-Pesa, which allows users to load money onto their phones – as they would prepaid airtime – and transfer it to another phone through a simple text message. It was introduced as a defensive measure to reduce subscriber churn. Today, it handles US$320 million in payments each month, equivalent to one-fourth of Kenya’s GDP, and is responsible for driving mobile phone penetration to nearly 70%. In the process, it has unleashed economic activity by introducing banking services to low-income citizens and spawned a host of start-ups in Nairobi. In 2012, Safaricom and the Commercial Bank of Africa introduced M-Shwari, a savings and lending program operating by phone. Within 2 years, it built a customer base of 7 million and facilitated $14 million in loans. Next on Safaricom’s agenda is construction of an inland fiber network linking to new submarine fiber landing in Mombasa.
Private and Public-Sector Progress
The beginning of a modern market economy has permitted private-sector and public-sector progress to take hold. Kenya’s leading industrialist, Manilal Chandaria, has founded a business school and incubation center at Nairobi universities, which builds on the success of the iHub tech facility established in 2010. Microsoft has partnered with Intel and a school association to bundle devices, educational applications, affordable data plans and financing in Nairobi’s 4Afrika Youth Device Program. The national government’s Vision 2030 development plan has put major emphasis on introducing ICT into education. If present trends continue and gain greater momentum, Nairobi may achieve the coveted goal of developed status sooner than anyone expects.
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The Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB) metro area includes Port Elizabeth and surrounding coastal cities. The automotive sector is its top employer, but NMB aims to develop an ICT-based sector in call centers, IT outsourcing and related businesses, and to use ICT to reduce huge disparities in education and income. NMB has a detailed plan for deploying wireless and FTTP broadband, introducing e-government and bridging the digital divide. As of November 2007, the community had completed a 100 Mb wireless network connecting government facilities, which is generating immediate savings. Next on the list is using the network to improve control of traffic, a first for South Africa, as a public demonstration of ICT. NMB's approach is worthy of imitation, because it creates a bold strategy and high-quality plan but sets realistic expectations for achieving it within the community's means.
The first South African entry to ICF’s list of 21 has thriving ICT, media and call center industries supporting a community of 3.2 million where the digital divide is great. In 2002, only 14% of the population had Internet access. A new fiber network is anticipated to create and establish 250,000 jobs.
On Christmas Day of 2014, Taiwan lost a county and gained a city, when the county of Taoyuan changed to municipal status. Its proximity to the Taipei Metropolitan Area has led to major investments in such public utilities as Taiwan’s largest international airport and the 2017 Taoyuan MRT Airport Line, which speeds connections between the city’s high-speed rail station and the airport. These, in turn, have driven rapid development in Taoyuan City, which has attracted a large number of new residents from other cities and countries.
Taoyuan is the largest industrial science and technology city in Taiwan. More than one-third of Taiwan’s top 500 manufacturing industries have set up factories in Taoyuan. The industrial output value of about 2.87 trillion NTD has led all Taiwanese cities for 14 consecutive years. The population is a fusion of many ethnic groups such as Minnan, Hakka and Aboriginal people. Because of the industrial development, Taoyuan is also the municipality with the largest number of foreign workers from Southeast Asia and the largest number of Vietnamese new residents.
Broadband Services for All
Taoyuan initiated the i-Taoyuan Free Wi-Fi 2.0 project in 2016 to optimize the city’s existing wireless network services and expand the city’s free network environment of hotspots. As of 2019, the project has established 5,000 free wireless hotspots throughout the city with plans in place to expand four high-traffic areas into hot zones with wider coverage. Chunghwa Telecom has set up its own network of 5,236 CHT Wi-Fi hotspots with 400 access points as well, distributed in all public areas for use by the general populace. In addition to setting up hotspots, Taoyuan has worked with local providers Taoyuan City Telefirst Cable Communication Co., Ltd., North Taoyuan Cable TV Co., Ltd. and South Taoyuan Cable TV Co., Ltd. to ensure that broadband service is available across the entire city.
With Internet access available so widely in the city, Taoyuan has developed the Smart District and Village System. The system connects 13 districts and 495 villages and neighborhoods in Taoyuan City with the city’s many government departments, allowing citizens to access up-to-date transit information and providing local businesses with an online platform to offer their mobile services. Taoyuan is also introducing smart parking and location systems to car parks in those districts and has deployed a dynamic information system for the city’s buses. Taoyuan Metro now provides free 4G and WiFi coverage and smart services as well.
Taoyuan is also currently working on an Internet of Things demonstration site for Taiwan. Asia Pacific Telecom has established 90 LoRa hotspots in the city to support Taiwan’s first Internet of Things dual network. The network is expected to cover all of Taiwan in the near future.
Youth Entrepreneurship in Qingpu
To further develop its youth talent, Taoyuan has created the Youth Entrepreneurship Headquarters in Qingpu. The Headquarters hosts a series of innovation- and entrepreneurship-themed courses for local youth as well as courses in the application of technology in new industry. As of 2016, the Headquarters has reached 441 members, 933 stationed members, and 17 teams of instructors.
The Taoyuan city government has established another entrepreneurship headquarters in the Taoyuan Youth Commander, which is the city’s first co-working maker space. As a startup hub, the Taoyuan Youth Commander provides clients with professional consultation and other services to help new ventures get off the ground and learn the fundamentals of business and marketing. The maker space also aids entrepreneurs in finding partners for their projects both within Taiwan and overseas. As of 2017, Taoyuan has planned an additional three national-level bases for young entrepreneurs: Hotuoshan IoT New Venture Hub, Chung Yuan Entrepreneurship Village and Young Maker Co-working Park.
The city has also partnered with local colleges to add more entrepreneurial courses. National Central University in Taoyuan has established the Foreign Language Talent and Smart Industry Incubation Center to connect local students with international students and entrepreneurs.
Creating an Innovation Hub
With its location between Taipei and Hsinchu, Taoyuan is perfectly placed to be an innovation and business hub in Taiwan. The city is home to the largest cluster of logistics companies in Taiwan, including many supermarkets, hypermarkets, retailers and fresh food suppliers. To provide broader logistical support to new industries, Taoyuan has developed the Taoyuan Aerotropolis and has established the only airport free trade zone in Taiwan. The city has also created an Innovation and R&D Centre to provide further resources and services to new and established companies.
Connecting all of these developments to the rest of Taiwan is essential for the innovation hub. The Taoyuan city government has established a comprehensive network of buses in the city with a total of 261 routes, many of which now sport dynamic information systems that provide useful data to travelers. In addition to the bus system, Taoyuan is connected to Taipei and Hsinchu via high speed rail, MRT, highways and the Taoyuan International Airport MRT. The city has outfitted all of these routs with 4G wireless coverage to allow travelers to work, research or relax while in transit.
Providing Knowledge and Access to Services through the Citizen Identity Card
Taoyuan launched a citizen identity card called the Taoyuan City Card in 2015 as a means of connecting its residents with a wide variety of public services and information. The card is integrated with many of the city’s transportation systems, serving as a ticket for busses, MRT, the Taiwan Railway, and even as a means to rent a bicycle. It may also be used to pay parking and most other government fees, as a municipal library card and even as a meeting attendance card for citizens to better keep track of their schedules.
In addition to city services, the Taoyuan City Card also provides citizens with discounts at over 700 stores offering hospitality and tourism services as well as local sports and fitness centers, youth centers and public halls and the Taoyuan Municipal Swimming Pool. The card is linked to a holder’s sports history for the sake of providing doctors with additional information during medical exams, and the city plans to integrate with cards with the national health insurance system in the future to provide citizens with easy access to their medical records in the future.
Taoyuan has issued roughly 1 million cards to citizens as of 2019. The cards grant discounts in more than 1,000 locations, including 742 stores participating in the program. In the future, the city plans to expand services to include banking, mobile payment services, telecommunication, and electronic tickets.
Alternative Energy in Taoyuan
To build a sustainable future, Taoyuan City has been heavily investing in solar energy. The city leases roof space of public houses to establish solar generation systems, with 132 government-owned buildings outfitted as of 2017, generating a total of 12 million kwh of electricity annually. With the assistance of the Tatung Company, Taoyuan will be building 200 public housing developments with solar generation capacity, aiming to produce 20 million kwh of electricity per year.
The city is working with businesses to improve solar energy production as well. The Department of Environmental Projects in Taoyuan has introduced an energy service company to provide free installation of solar generation equipment on the rooftops of factories as well as public housing.
In addition to solar energy, Taoyuan is also focusing on wind power generation. Since 2011, 57 wind power plants have been installed in Guanyin and Luzhu. The city is also planning a number of offshore wind plants in the coming years.
By nourishing local innovation, attracting international entrepreneurs, and building an ever-growing infrastructure for clean energy production, Taoyuan is preparing its people, organizations and environment for global competition.
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Intelligent Community of the Year 2019
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Taitung is Taiwan’s third-largest county by area and home to 224,000 people. Spread across the mountainous southeast coast of the island, it was a thinly-populated economic backwater through most of the 20th Century, while the northwest coastal plains became the center of Taiwan’s remarkable economic rise. Agriculture and tourism are its dominant industries. Because it was the last region of Taiwan settled by the Han Chinese in the 19th Century, it has also retained much aboriginal culture, which makes its own contribution to tourism.
Like most isolated rural regions, the county was underserved by broadband – until county government engaged in a major drive to deploy wireless infrastructure. Through negotiation, persuasion and investment, the county accomplished what seemed impossible: deployment of 250 hotspots in just over four months to achieve 100% availability for residents and businesses. County leaders recognized, however, that deployment was only the beginning. It set up a major public education program and a 24-hour hotline to help people get online. The effort succeeded: calls to the hotline gradually declined from 200 per month to single digits and public satisfaction reached nearly 80% in a 2015 survey. By September 2015, there were more than 100,000 subscribers to the “TT-Free” service in a county with a population of only 224,000. Vision Magazine placed Taitung County at the top of its list of counties for “smart infrastructure.”
Boosting Local Industry
The county was quick to put the network to use for economic development. It created a Smart Travel Service Plan that aggregated its own data with third-party services like TripAdvisor in a single mobile portal available on the app stores in multiple languages. It also helped six major tourist sites to install systems that generate constantly updated guide maps and navigation tips that can be pushed to the phones of tourists. One of the county’s biggest events is a hot air balloon festival, which attracted 350,000 tourists in 2011. Just one year later, attendance jumped to 830,000. The major tour sites of Taitung received six million visitors in 2013, up 44% from 2009. While the number of hotels grew, the average occupancy rate also leaped to third in the nation. Developments like these caused the outflow of population from the county to reverse for the first time in years in 2014.
The county also has a long cultural and industry legacy in woodworking. Working with industry, universities, researchers and the national government, it is now planning a Maker Park to help entrepreneurs apply technology to launch innovative woodworking businesses.
New Model for Service Delivery
The network also helps Taitung County better serve residents and businesses. There was once only one county office, located in the city of Taitung, to which many residents had to travel long distances. Through the network, the county has made available more than 200 services online and provides access at 15 township offices. County staff even go to the homes of elderly and disabled residents with tablets to deliver services and information. During typhoon season, prevailing winds blow from the south, which puts Taitung County on the front lines. To help with disaster preparation, the county has created a real-time decision support system that mines data on past typhoons to help predict where incoming storms will have the greatest impact, so that emergency resources can be pre-positioned where they will do the most good.
The county’s experience illustrates vividly how rural areas can use broadband and information technology to overcome the traditional barriers of distance and isolation and find new economic relevance in the broadband economy.
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Taipei is no stranger to technology-based development. This city of 2.6 million people is the world's largest producer of laptop and notebook computers and computer motherboards. The Taipei Technology Corridor consists of two major science and technology parks, with a third one in development, that currently employ more than 85,000 knowledge workers in 2,200 companies with combined annual revenues in 2004 of nearly US$53 billion. Taipei is also one of the world's top three cities for broadband deployment, with PCs in 88% of homes and 77% of households connected to ADSL service. Where hardware and infrastructure is concerned, Taipei is justly proud of being a global leader.
For Taipei, the challenge of the 21st Century is to run faster in a fast world. It is to maintain and increase its competitive edge while preparing for a demanding future. As Taipei Metropolitan Government wrote in its application to ICF, "In the past Taipei tended to follow examples from developed countries. Now, Taipei is looking for its own paradigm and value."
Taipei's development as an Intelligent Community began with the election of Mayor Ying-jeou Ma in 1998. Mayor Ma challenged Taipei to become what he called a CyberCity. The first phase of the project (1999-2002) focused on building broadband infrastructure and using the Internet to improve public services. The city invested an average of US$75 million per year to install PCs on the desks of all employees at leading government agencies, deploy a city-wide electronic document system that saved US$7.5 million per year, and create hundreds of online applications ranging from requests for service to complaints about parking violations. An e-schools effort placed at least one PC with broadband connectivity in every classroom, created computer labs in 250 schools and trained teachers in PC and Internet skills. An e-communities project provided free PC and Internet training to 240,000 people and established 800 public Internet kiosks throughout the city. An online Intelligent Transportation System was developed to monitor traffic flow, guide drivers to available parking and improve taxi safety, and an EasyCard multi-function pass for Taipei's Mass Rapid Transit System attracted new riders. To date, the system has issued over 5.7 million cards.
Phase Two Brings Second Top7 Ranking
For these efforts, Taipei was named one of ICF's Top Seven Intelligent Communities of 2003. In 2006, ICF recognizes Taipei for taking its CyberCity program to the next level by making broadband connectivity an essential component of life for its citizens and businesses, and using it to transform the economy of the city.
The second phase of the CyberCity program (2003-2006) has focused on several priorities. The first was to better integrate broadband and online services into citizens' lives. By May 2005, 84% of the government's total document traffic was moving through its electronic document exchange. Its Internet portal was offering over 400 services used by an average of 3,500 citizens per day, and over 5,200 small-to-midsize companies had created Web sites on a free Taipei Business Net portal. In the longer term, Taipei aims to encourage development of better Chinese computer interfaces and expand content and applications suited to Chinese tradition. These advances will not only foster broadband use by citizens but will provide an opportunity for Taipei's companies to more easily access business opportunities in greater China.
A second priority was to shorten the time and resources needed to turn students into productive knowledge workers. The most crucial challenge faced by Taipei's companies is the "last mile" between school and industry. To that end, every four years, over US$93 million is earmarked to fund IT education in Taipei. IT skills are widely taught in elementary schools, high schools and universities as well as business incubators. Microsoft selected Taipei as the world's first location for its Future School Program. Cisco is implementing its Network Academy in Taiwan, which has attracted participation from 79 Taiwanese companies and provided training to 16,000 students. The government has also created Taipei e-University to provide online training in academic theory and hands-on practice, leading to professional certification.
The third priority was to provide an IT-based platform for innovation. In the CyberCity program's second phase, the government deployed a municipal wireless network to mass transit stations and all elementary and middle school campuses, where each class was equipped with its own Web site to facilitate teacher-student communications. Plans call for extending the network to 90% of the city.
The fourth priority was to use broadband to ensure digital equality. With the encouragement of the government, nonprofit organizations have established 13 community universities that have offered technology and other classes to nearly 220,000 people. Internet kiosks were established at 800 convenience stores and other locations to give citizens access to online services. An e-healthcare initiative has integrated the data systems of 300 municipal hospitals and clinics and provides safety monitoring of elderly and disabled citizens via wristbands.
On New Year's Eve 2004, Mayor Ma and Taiwan's President Chen Shui-ban led the celebration of the opening of Taipei 101, the world's tallest skyscraper and one of the most technologically advanced buildings on earth. It was a fitting symbol for this city of almost limitless ambition, which aims to number among the select few leaders of the Broadband Economy.
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Labor Force: 1,183,000
Intelligent Community of the Year 2006
Top7 2004 | 2006
When the city and county of Taichung merged in 2010, it created a huge metropolis uniting completely different economies: a major seaport city where 70% of employees work in services, and a rural county where 50% work in industry and agriculture is a significant source of income.
The city’s leadership, under Mayor Chih-Chiang (Jason) Hu, was determined to create a whole much greater than the sum of its parts.
The city and telecom companies partnered to create thousands of WiFi hotspots, fiber-based broadband and 4G WiMAX now reaching more than 90% of the population. Through imaginative applications developed by public-private partnership, ICT has become a driver of greater global competitiveness.
The backbone of Taichung’s manufacturing economy is a network of 1,500 precision machinery makers and tens of thousands of SME suppliers. Smaller companies now benefit from a shared, cloud-based ERP system that reduces their purchasing costs and time-to-market. An RFID system at the port automates the clearing of shipping containers for exit, slashing the time trucks spend idling at the gate.
Taichung is also helping farmers apply ICT to improve yields and profitability while expanding their international markets.
To power this new economy, the city and its 17 colleges have created a truly lifelong learning system ranging from basic digital education and vocational training to advanced study and continuous skills improvement. And Taichung is aggressively pursuing industrial clustering through development of the Central Taiwan Technology Corridor combining science parks, precision manufacturing parks and software parks to give physical shape to its global ambitions.
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Intelligent Community of the Year 2013
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