Shiojiri is in the center of Nagano, a mountainous inland prefecture that hosted the 1998 Winter Olympics. Famed for its scenery, hot springs and fruits and vegetables, Shiojiri also has a manufacturing base focused on precision and electrical machinery, which includes small-to-midsize companies as well as the factories of name-brand companies like Seiko and Epson.
The city faces the threat of long-term decline due to the rising age of its population and declining birth rate. As its population shrinks, so does its tax base, while social welfare costs rise to serve the needs of an aging society. It faces another danger as well, the ever-present risk of earthquakes from a major fault line running north to south through the prefecture.
Broadband and Citizen Services
City government is tackling both of these risks through long-term investment in fiber-based broadband and efforts to build a software industry to supplement its manufacturing one. Shiojiri’s efforts in broadband date back to 1996, just two years after the release of the first commercial Web browser. City government introduced its own municipal ISP, which built a user base of 10,000 subscribers. The city was well positioned when, a few years later, the national government introduced a regional broadband infrastructure program. Shiojiri used grants from the program to expand the network, add Wi-Fi nodes, and introduce specialized services to protect the population in the event of disaster, from an environmental sensor network to mobile information services. The city was even able to equip its bus network with GPS and make available real-time route information to travelers via mobile phone.
The Incubation Plaza
The city exited the broadband business in 2012 when a private-sector carrier agreed to assume operations. The 130-kilometer network now reaches 100% of the city’s population as well as serving Wi-Fi hotspots at the central rail station, community facilities and parks. Among these facilities is the Shiojiri Incubation Plaza (SIP), launched in 2007, which attracts and nurtures outside companies specializing in embedded systems, the industrial software that runs the precision machinery Shiojiri companies manufacture. SIP is now home to 14 software companies new to the region. The city has also used its network to encourage better marketing and distribution of farm products, which has created new employment in agriculture, and to develop community projects around child care support, senior citizens, the library and youth engagement. Based on these successes, Shiojiiri has a long-term plan to continue growing its economy and engage citizens in building a better future.
In a nation with thousands of years of recorded history, the city of Ichikawa is a newcomer, having been founded as a residential suburb of Tokyo only in 1934. Since then, Ichikawa has benefited economically from its location near Tokyo Central Railway Station and Japan's primary international airport at Narita. Population grew strongly as a result, reaching nearly a half million people today.
But like the overall Japanese economy, Ichikawa has found itself challenged to continue that growth as manufacturing and high-tech industries, which spurred the last growth wave in the 1970s and 1980s, stumbled in the 1990s. The decade-long recession and deflation that gripped Japan until recently forced its local communities to innovate and adapt in order to survive. ICF recognizes Ichikawa for applying the principles of Intelligent Community development to charting a new course for its citizens and local businesses.
Ichikawa Business Plaza
The most visible sign of change in Ichikawa came in 2002, when a group of institutions led by the city's government opened Ichikawa Business Plaza. This was the community's first experiment with business incubation. The building provided broadband-enabled office space for small office, home office (SOHO) companies and larger enterprises, as well as public space offering PCs and a regional data center for the use of surrounding communities, nonprofit organizations and residents' associations. Managed by the Ichikawa Life Network Club, the Plaza currently has 29 companies as tenants, and offers them advice on finance, law and business issues through a network of advisors from universities, the Chamber of Commerce, and business owners in the region.
The Business Plaza became the core of an expanding series of programs designed to create a culture of use for broadband and information technology. The Plaza developers' timing was good, because Japan was just beginning serious and widespread adoption of broadband that would put the nation into third place worldwide, behind South Korea and Canada. This created demand among citizens for the offerings emerging from both the public and private sectors.
Broadband and its Applications
Shortly after deregulation in the 1980s, the city and local companies established the Ichikawa Cable Network Company to provide TV service. With broadband demand growing in the late 1990s, the cable TV company introduced a broadband service via cable modem in 2000 at lower prices than the incumbent NTT. By 2005, broadband subscribers on the cable network had grown fivefold to reach 9,000. Total broadband penetration in the city now exceeds 46%, compared with a national average of 39%.
The Chiba University of Commerce (CUC), located in Ichikawa, has a Faculty of Policy Informatics, which focuses on the use of IT in solving social problems. CUC has partnered with the government to create distance education programs over the Internet. The city was also chosen by Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology for a model project to develop a new system connecting public and school libraries to open up research resources to citizens. An e-government project called 360+5 has made many government services accessible online and installed Internet-access kiosks at public locations as well as 600 convenience stores. In 2001, the city started training classes for residents and citizen groups in information and communications technology and by 2005 had provided training to 30,000 people.
Public safety has been a hot topic for citizens, and in 2005, the city began installing video cameras in public locations and launched an online Ichikawa Safety e-Net program in cooperation with neighborhood associations. The e-Net allows citizens to report crimes and concerns through mobile phones and PCs, and distributes weather and disaster information.
Media City Ichikawa
One of the city's latest projects is Media City Ichikawa. Visited by 100,000 people each month, this facility aims to create a culture of use for broadband and the IT services it delivers. In the Media City, a Central Library provides access to books, research, music and videos online. An Audio-Visual Center offers an expanding archive of AV material from citizens and government agencies, as well as audio and video editing suites, music and video studios and an auditorium seating 260. To build the collection, the city hosts contests for the best audio-visual work. The Central Playhouse offers children playground equipment, books and PCs as well as classes, while an Education Center is devoted to training teachers in information and communications technology.
These efforts at continuous improvement have attracted both public and private organizations to locate in Ichikawa. The public/nonprofit sector is represented by the National Institute of Radiological Sciences, the Department of Engineering of the University of Tokyo, and seven universities and colleges including Tokyo Management College and Chiba Institute of Technology. Private-sector organizations include the technology division of Sumitomo Metal Mining, a TDK Corporation technical center, the Electronic Material Research department of Nissan Chemical and the R&D Center of NTT Communications. The total workforce in information and communications industries has grown from 57,000 in 1990 to 73,000 in 2005, seven times faster than overall population growth.
Labor Force: 239,322
Smart21 2006 | 2007
The urban core of Jaipur sprang from the mind of the Maharja’s architect in the 1700s, when it was founded as the capital of a princely state. Infrastructure has been a focus there ever since, and Jaipur is distinguished from most Indian cities by its modern road network, efficient airport and dozens of colleges, institutes and universities. State and national governments have financed major upgrades to the electrical grid as well as big build-outs of broadband infrastructure. Its diverse manufacturing sector is the largest exporter of gold, diamond and stone jewelry in Asia but also produces a wide variety of consumer and industrial goods. But what may distinguish Jaipur most is a bottom-up economic development strategy led by technology entrepreneurs. Mentored by Naren Bakshi, a retired serial entrepreneur, local tech entrepreneurs have banded together to boost tech-led growth in the region. They have educated state and local officials on the vital importance of technology, leading to the overturning of regulations that classified computers as luxury good and that banned women from working after sunset. Their networking group now includes more than 100 companies employing hundreds of people. Emboldened by their example, traditional industries have adopted ICT to make themselves globally competitive, and India’s largest tech firms as well as financial institutions have located hubs in the region.
The community is experiencing tremendous growth and has become a destination for IT businesses. Its vision is to become a complete knowledge hub by 2020, building on its current broadband network and, realizing the gap that remains in the community, to offer access to every citizen through a technology organization managed by the State government.
Founded in 1404, Tianjin is the biggest seaport in northern China, which functions as neighboring Beijing's gateway to the sea. With a strong industrial base, the city saw GDP growth of nearly 16% from 2003 to 2004, when its total output was worth US$36.3 billion. Now Tianjin and the national government have combined the port, industrial and free trade zones into the Tianjin Binhai New Area (TBNA), with the goal of creating one of the world’s most advanced urban centers at an estimated cost of US$146bn. The core strategy relies on overlaying ICT on the government, business and residential life of TBNA, which is already home to 27% of China’s scientific and technology talent. A fiber backbone network extends 32,000 km and broadband now reaches 300,000 households or 50% of all Internet users. Large-scale investments have gone into e-government, electronic port logistics, public safety systems and ICT automation for business. But it is in connecting young people to careers that TBNA may have set an example for the world. A multi-level program equips students with an Employment Services Card, which records their participation in career guidance and internships. It qualifies them for entrepreneurship training, in which more than 1,000 business people train 3,000 students per year, as well as subsidies and loans for start-ups. The government even pays 60% of minimum wage for up to 12 months to subsidize the hiring of young people by local companies.
Founded in 1404, Tianjin is the biggest coastal city and largest seaport in northern China. It functions as neighboring Beijing's gateway to the sea, and is one of four Chinese municipalities under the direct jurisdiction of the central government. This city of 11 million has a strong industrial base in automobiles, pharmaceuticals, metallurgy, petrochemicals and such new fields as environmental services, and saw GDP growth of nearly 16% from 2003 to 2004, when its total output was worth US$36.3 billion. The city added 214,500 new jobs in 2004, 18% more than the prior year and saw per-capita income rise 14%.
The municipal government has nonetheless set its sights on building equally powerful information technology and service industries, and has eagerly embraced broadband and IT as means to make government more efficient and responsive, and business more productive. Northern China has been late to the Internet and broadband revolution, and there is a clear sense of urgency in Tianjin's efforts to catch up. Tianjin was among the Top Seven in 2005, and for the second year in a row, ICF recognizes the city for its aggressive application of the principles of Intelligent Community development in the unique political and economic environment of China.
From 20,000 to 2.7 Million in Two Years
Tianjin's Intelligent Community initiative is focused on broadband deployment for citizens, business and government; on e-government applications to make government more responsive and efficient; and on development of new high-tech industrial zones. The goals in its current five-year plan are to provide broadband access in 100% of the 12 km2 (4.6 sq. mile) city, have 80% of households own a PC and 55% of residents become Internet users, and have total broadband penetration reach 60%. Collaborating with telecom carriers, cable TV companies and equipment manufacturers, the city has deployed 20,000 km (12,500 miles) of optical fiber in multiple interconnected networks. The city had 2.7 million Internet subscribers at the end of 2004, up 35% from the prior year. (At the end of 2002, only 20,000 people in all of Tianjin used the Internet.) Broadband subscribers totaled 600,000 or 5% of the total population. A newly completed telecommunications hub in Tianjin provides switching and control for networks that connect the nine provinces of northern China.
Though part of the Beijing metroplex, Tianjin contains large rural areas where farming is the predominant industry. A “village to village” program has, with help from satellites, connected nearly 4,000 villages to the Internet and has helped to transform rural life. One small company, Jinmao Co. Ltd. In Wang Zhuang Village, was founded with the equivalent of US$62 in 1984 to manufacture manual agricultural tools. After setting up a Web site in 1996, the company began receiving orders from throughout China and expanded its products to include painting, cleaning, gardening and other tools. Their products are now available in five of the six biggest furniture chains in China, and the company's sales have reached US$18 million.
Online Government, Health Care and Customs
Tianjin's e-government programs have focused in increasing efficiency, improving connectedness and centralizing information on residents. To date, the city has implemented 600 e-government applications, including public finance, taxation, city planning, housing, commerce, education and justice. Proposed government policies are posted to the Web so that citizens can offer comments before the policy is implemented. Over 250 departments use the network for internal management. The broadband network also links the city’s 210 hospitals and clinics, and an online payment system settles almost all healthcare charges. A Distance Tax Collection System allows taxpayers to check their accounts and make payments online, while a Port Information System expedites customs clearances for ships' cargos in Tianjin's port. Cash transactions are gradually being replaced by three network-access cards – bank, bus and social security – that residents use to manage their financial and transportation needs.
In China, a Resident Registration System controls internal travel and residency. Tianjin recently introduced a second-generation system designed to reduce the inconvenience to residents of re-registering at district offices whenever they change housing. The former manual process, requiring visits to multiple offices, has been reduced by data networking to a single visit.
50% of Total Exports from Technology Sector
The city's latest project is the Digital City industrial park, designed as a home for China's fast-growing software, electronics, biotech and new-energy industries. Now under construction on 10 km2 (3.8 sq. miles) of land, the new park will become home to a sector that saw a 32% increase in total revenues from 2003 to 2005 and which now produces 50% of the city's exports.
The pace of Tianjin's transformation is set by many factors, from the sheer scale of effort required to have an impact on its large, urban-rural population to the willingness of the central government in Beijing to embrace change. Measured by how far it has come in a short time, Tianjin is a notable success. Measured against the scale of its ambitions, the city still has far to go.
Labor Force: 5,500,000
Top7 2005 | 2006
Shanghai has been a major port at the mouth of the Yangtze River since it was opened to foreign trade in 1842. By the 1930s, it was an Asian hub of finance and commerce. But its current path was set in the 1990s, when the reforms of Deng Xiaoping made it one of China’s four “direct cities,” operating free from provincial rule, and liberated its private-sector economy. The non-state sector now generates 42% of the city’s GDP, which has grown at double-digit rates since 1992. Today, Shanghai is one of the world’s largest cities by population and the second busiest port in the world. Already home to over 30 major industrial parks, it is engaged in a development boom of historic proportions. The infrastructure includes broadband via wireless, copper and optical fiber. The Shanghai Medical University is a pioneer in telehealth in China and supports remote consultation and education in more than 20 provinces. More than 30 large multinationals have located wholly-owned R&D centers there because of the city’s rich knowledge assets, competitive market, existing IT cluster. The centers are producing new spin-off companies, new university-business research ventures and an overall increase in the skill levels of Chinese engineers and researchers.
Political reforms beginning in the 1990s unleashed the economic potential of Shanghai, one of China’s most important seaports, and helped create the megacity of today with its population of over 23 million. Jiading is the northernmost of 17 districts of Shanghai and home to the city’s Grand Prix racetrack. But the district has begun a different kind of race: to create a new satellite community of one million people that will set a standard in China for quality of life. Moving at the high speed of development in the Middle Kingdom, Jiading New City is already home to the regional headquarters of major Chinese companies, schools, hospitals, hotels, rail and bus lines as well as housing. A ubiquitous wireless network is being deployed to provide broadband. Yet for all its advanced infrastructure, Jiading New City encompasses one hundred parks, a network of lakes and rivers and a forest belt that takes up 40% of its land. Already called China’s “most livable city,” Jiading New District aims to become an important destination where the dynamism of China connects to the global economy.
A satellite city of Shanghai known as an automative cluster, Jia Ding seeks to build quality of life and attract high-tech companies through a fiber-to-the-building network, science & technology investment funds, and advanced e-government programs.
Long one of the most competitive economies in the world, Hong Kong seeks to maintain its edge with an IT transformation plan to make government more efficient, development of digital industry clusters such as Cyberport, and investments in intelligent transport and immigration to maintain its lead as a crossroads for the global economy.