Kelowna is the largest city in the tourist-oriented Okanagan Valley and one of the fastest-growing cities in North America. Its 127,000 people are largely employed in tourism, which spans all four seasons and brings more than C$1 billion per year into the region. It is also home to two post-secondary institutions with a combined student body of over 13,000 full-time students. With a dry, mild climate and scenic lake vistas, it is surrounded by provincial parks, pine forest, vineyards, orchards and mountains. It is, in short, a beautiful spot that is a long way from any place even close to its population size.
This relative rural isolation and the low-skilled, low-paid nature of most tourism work presents Kelowna with challenges. Rapid development has triggered sharp debate in the community while driving up property prices to a level that places Kelowna among the top 10 most unaffordable markets in Canada. It has high rates as well of property crime, illegal drug use and opiod overdoses. Changing those dynamics while preserving what makes Kelowna so attractive is the vital task that Kelowna's elected leaders have set for themselves.
Breaking Down Barriers
Kelowna already operates a dark fiber network that connects city facilities and saves money, and offers 1 Gbps service on a leased basis to nonprofits, schools and private businesses. The benefits in terms of access to markets, knowledge and services are significant and growing. Its next target is underserved rural businesses and households. The city began network expansion in February 2017 using funding from the provincial Connecting British Columbia program.
Most of Kelowna's new residents come from other parts of Canada, and retirees over 65 make up more than 20% of the population. The Silver Surfers program connects seniors with Okanagan College students, who mentor them in using an iPad to surf the web, take pictures, send email, use Facebook and connect with family and friends over applications like Facetime. Originally piloted in 2016, the program has matched 96 seniors with 40 student mentors. Before the program, participants reported connect with family members twice per month; they now are connecting an average of twice per week.
Creating a Knowledge Workforce
Kelowna projects that the local economy will demand 56,000 new workers in the next five years, but like most rural cities, it watches too much of its student population depart after graduation. To reverse this trend, the city and community groups created in 2012 the Okanagan Young Professionals Collective (OPY), an umbrella organization that fosters and supports young professional groups engaged in volunteer, social, professional, sports, arts and cultural activities. One is Motionball, which builds awareness and raises funds for the Special Olympics Canada Foundation. Motionball aims to introduce the next generation of volunteers and donors to the Special Olympics through social and sporting events that put fun into giving. It was one of the founders of OYP.
Through 2017, OYP has raised over $360,000 in funds and services and persuaded local companies to contribute more than 3,500 volunteer hours of accounting, web development and business planning services to local nonprofits. Employers in the region have begun using OYP as a tool in their efforts to recruit young professionals from outside the region – and the results are showing. Kelowna's census district has experienced growth above the provincial average in 30-34 year olds since 2011, and the increase in the number of children has been more than double the average for the province.
Foundations of an Innovation Economy
Today's young professionals tend to be entrepreneurial, and the community has begun building the infrastructure to support a startup economy. A group of local entrepreneurs, community and civic leaders set a goal in 2014 of creating 10,000 technology jobs within 10 years. Their ambitions gave rise to the Okanagan Center for Innovation, a partnership among the city, the province, the Federal government and a local tech entrepreneur. The Center offers commercial space at market rates to companies, and publicly-supported spaces and services to startup and early-stage companies, community members and social enterprises. Since the opening of the 105,000 square-foot (9,700 m2) building in May 2017, all 48 desks in the publicly-supported section have been rented and 34 companies have joined an acceleration mentorship program. Atrium Ventures, an entrepreneur-led venture capital firm funded in part by government, has an office in the building and provides access to a direct investment pool.
Investing in Climate
As a low-density community, Kelowna residents depend heavily on private automobiles, and road transportation accounts for more than 65% of greenhouse gas emissions in the city. The city's Climate Action Plan seeks to compensate with an aggressive tree-planting program in Kelowna's natural parks as well as upgrades to city-owned heating, lighting and waste-water treatment facilities. A landfill gas purification plan is reducing 3,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year while providing a renewable resource for provincial gas customers.
This is one aspect of a broader "Imagine Kelowna" project, which engages the public in helping to plan the community's future for the next 25 years. Kicking off in May 2016, the project has attracted hundreds of inputs online, through the mail and in community events and workshops. It envisions a future with fewer cars and more public transportation options, and the creation of vital urban centers with housing for all income levels, to take the place of urban sprawl. A diverse and inclusive economy, built on a culture of entrepreneurship, will address the community's economic and social challenges.
Kelowna approaches the future with important assets: a successful tourism industry, a growing population and the outlines of a broadband-powered, innovation-driven economy. Its success will be determined by how it fills in those outlines and how it ensures that the benefits of tech-based growth reach far and wide across the community.
The 22,000 people of Hudson live in a green stretch of the state of Ohio midway between the cities of Cleveland and Akron. Despite the major industrial disruptions of the last 40 years, the region is relatively prosperous. Its economy rests on a mix of manufacturing (polymers, automotive, fabricated metals, electrical and electronic parts and aerospace) and services (transportation, health, insurance, banking, finance and retail). Such name-brand companies as Goodyear, Bridgestone, FedEx, Lockheed Martin, Allstate Insurance and JP Morgan Chase have headquarters or major facilities there.
Within the region, Hudson is a prosperous suburban city that provides talent to the region's many employers. Its population is highly educated, with 68% of residents over age 25 holding a bachelor's degree or higher, and relatively young, with a median age of 39. Median household income is in the six figures. Its downtown district is on the National Register of Historic Places. But like Intelligent Communities everywhere, it is a place in transition from one economy to the next. Hudson seeks to secure its future at a time when smaller communities without a distinct competitive advantage are seeing their human, economic and cultural assets drained away by bigger places.
In late 2015, Hudson began construction of the Velocity Broadband Network. That milestone was the end of one journey and the beginning of another. As internet access became essential to businesses, the city began hearing more and more complaints about lack of reliable, affordable connectivity. The largest companies in town could afford dedicated high-capacity service but small-to-midsize companies – the backbone of employment everywhere – could not. A survey of residents and businesses in 2015 made clear that coverage, speed, performance and reliability were a big issue. Some business people reported regularly leaving town for a café with internet access because their own service was so undependable.
The city first tried to interest ISPs in upgrading their infrastructure but the proposals from providers were inadequate and expensive. It pitched potential private-sector partners on buying capacity on an open-access network to be capitalized by the city. The response was tepid. Finally, City Council agreed to become a retail service provider. It made a US$3.3 million internal loan so that its IT department could expand the fiber network already used by government to serve the business community.
Today, Velocity Broadband offers business customers a symmetrical 500x500 Mbps service with capability up to 10 Gbps. More than 250 business customers subscribe to internet service and over 100 to voice-over-internet-protocol telephone, producing revenues that exceed operating costs since 2017. In addition to satisfying existing users, Hudson has seen direct impact on business attraction. For the previous ten years, one of the city's primary business parks had only one tenant. Since Velocity Broadband started service, the park has added seven new buildings and is close to being fully occupied.
With the success of Velocity Broadband in the business sector, Hudson was eager to expand coverage to residential areas as well. The city sought input from citizens on broadband needs and challenges through a community survey and a committee of residents. In 2019, based on survey and committee findings, Hudson changed its policy to stop differentiating between residential and business structures for coverage, expanding Velocity’s potential subscriber footprint from 600 to 1,500 potential new customers. The city will seek further opportunities for network expansion in the coming years as well.
Fire Prevention via Broadband
Hudson’s historic downtown is comprised of buildings that are more than 100 years old, many of which are physically attached or at least directly adjacent to one another. Even one building catching fire in the area could spell disaster for all of downtown, wiping out businesses, lives and history all at once. The primary way to prevent such spreading fires is quick detection, but most options, such as running wires through old brick walls and ceilings, were prohibitively expensive for local businesses. The city took advantage of its Velocity Broadband to design a brand-new solution instead.
During the first quarter of 2018, the city coordinated building inspections with the Hudson Fire Department and the Velocity Broadband vendor to check signal strength and determine appropriate locations for wireless fire detection units. These units will form a mesh network that communicates back to a central fire panel, allowing Hudson’s Fire Department to learn immediately of any fires beginning. In addition, the devices include wireless horn-strobes that will alert everyone in the general vicinity if a fire breaks out. The city has made historic Main Street a pilot site for this fire detection network with plans to expand if testing goes well.
Center for Innovation and Creativity
An educated population tends to demand much from its educational institutions. In 2010, Hudson was named as one of the 100 Best Communities for Young People by an organization called America's Promise. The award was based on work that began in the 1990s to combat drug use and drive down the dropout rate by providing additional educational and cultural opportunities.
Today, the Hudson City Schools are part of the Six District Compact, a partnership of neighboring school districts, which lets students enroll in two-year higher education programs that earn college credit or provide a pathway directly from high school into employment. Vocational courses range from automotive to cosmetology, and STEM offerings as diverse as coding and robotics lead to the awarding of Microsoft and Cisco certifications. A 1-to-1 Chromebook program has equipped all students in grades 3-12 with a free laptop, and also paid for a professional Technology Coordinator to manage the project. Based on the Chromebook program’s success, the city will be providing students in grades 6-8 with 6th-generation iPads to replace their Chromebooks, giving them access to a wider variety of productivity and learning apps and tools. The same funding includes support and incentives for teachers to become certified as Google Educators. This mix of technology, training and train-the-trainer programs is a fundamental building block of the knowledge workforce. In 2016, a private secondary school, Western Reserve Academy, opened the Center of Technology, Innovation and Creativity with funding from a local foundation. In the 6,000-square-foot (557 m2) collaborative makerspace, students pursue their own projects and partner with local businesses to design, engineer and create products, beginning with banners and T-shirts and advancing to custom-branded gift items. The Center expected to offset 100% of its operating costs through such projects by the end of 2017.
Innovation does not, however, stop with the Academy's students. The Center has invited public schools to explore the facility and hosted a Digital Fabrication Camp for younger students. A 2017 gift to the school made it possible for students from rural, disadvantaged Ohio towns to spend three weeks of learning and exploration at the Center and to board at the Academy.
Engaging the Community
Hudson's economic development leadership discovered in 2017 that a highly valuable asset was hiding in plain sight. The city is home to nearly 80 Chairs, CEOs and founders of major corporations, universities and nonprofits in the region. To put that talent to work, the city and Hudson Community Foundation established the Business Leader Advisory Board, which meets biannually to prioritize opportunities arising from Velocity Broadband and other developments, and to act throughout the year as advocates for the city beyond its borders. Still in the early stage at the time of this report, the Board provides to Hudson the kind of expertise, insight and leadership access normally available only in a major city.
Another program, Leadership Hudson, introduces its citizen participants to local leaders in government, business and the community, and offers training in leadership. In addition to valuable networking and leadership development, the program offers each class the chance to develop a unique project to benefit the community. In 2014, the Leadership Hudson class partnered with the city-owned electric utility to install a Solar Education Center, complete with solar panels, at the Barlow Community Center. The class raised money for the project from local foundations, businesses and social organizations, as well as a crowdfunding effort that contributed 10% of the total raised. The money went to build a system with 55 roof-mounted and 10 ground-level solar panels, which now provide half the building's electricity and will save the city $100,000 in the next 25 years while reducing carbon emissions by 40 tons per year. Next on the agenda of the Solar Education Center is engagement with local schools to use data generated by the solar installation in STEM programs and in the Green Cup Energy Challenge, a national competition that engages more than 300 schools each year.
For those residents still left out of the loop, the city created the Hudson Commons project in 2019. The project aims to provide information and updates to citizens regardless of their media consumption habits, a formidable task in the digital age. The Hudson Commons project includes a wide variety of communication avenues, from monthly 3-4 page newsletters delivered by mail to bi-weekly “Hudson Headlines” short videos streamed online and posts on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. The city is also considering creating a new version of Hudson Community Television available through new services such as online streaming, rather than traditional television.
Getting Out of the Way of Progress
City government is making its own contribution to progress by identifying processes that stand in the way of economic growth. The city manager introduced a Continuous Improvement initiative in 2016, and one of its first projects involved the permitting process for residential, commercial and industry construction. It was locally famous for its length and cumbersome procedures: a typical residential application took 11.5 days to process and involved 45 separate steps.
The Continuous Improvement team conducted a week of exhaustive interviews with employees and analyzed the steps in the workflow. At the end of the review, the team proposed to junk the existing software system in favor of a user-friendly online interface that could accept credit card transactions and would drastically reduce the number of steps. As just one example, residents wanting to add a window or fence to their property typically waited one week for approval, a process that involved a formal review board. The new system let residents apply for and receive approval in hours without ever leaving home. That residential application requiring 11.5 days and 45 steps was reduced to 2.5 days and 13 steps, and similar gains were made on commercial and industrial applications.
The leaders of Hudson understand the privileges that come with its position as a home for well-educated, well-paid residents working at companies throughout the region. Hudson's citizens already tend to be on the winning side of the transition to a digitally-powered economy – but the city is not one to take its current success for granted. Ambitious programs in broadband, education, economic and community development provide a pathway to a stronger economy and more engaged society for all Hudsonians.
Smart21 2018 | 2019 | 2020
Top7 2019 | 2020
In the far northern nations of the world, people tend to cluster southward. Espoo, Finland's second largest city, lies on the border of its biggest city and national capital, Helsinki. Both stand on Finland’s southern coast, directly across the Gulf of Finland from Tallinn, a frequent Top7 Intelligent Community and the capital of Estonia.
In 1950, Espoo was a regional municipality of 22,000, which drew its name from the Swedish words for the aspen tree and for river. Today, Espoo is still a place on a river bordered by aspen, and about 8 percent of its population still speaks Swedish as its first language.
Sixty-five years later, however, it is an industrial city of 270,000. It retains its dispersed, regional nature, however, being made of up of seven population hubs arrayed along the border with Helsinki, where many of its citizens work.
In 2010, Finland’s Parliament made history by declaring that access to 1 Mbps broadband is a legal right. Today, Finland ranks second in the world for mobile broadband adoption, according to the OECD. It is also one of the leading countries in Europe for ultra-broadband adoption, with more than 50% of households having access to a fixed connection of 100 Mbps.
In such an advanced broadband economy, it is natural that the Intelligent Community of Espoo would take a next-generation approach to improving broadband access and adoption. With the explosive growth of mobile data, driven largely by video, the city sees a serious risk of capacity bottlenecks threatening city digital services and throttling the future online experience of residents. Its answer is LuxTurrim 5G, a three-year pilot project that engages Espoo companies and research institutions in evaluating smart light poles as transmitters for 5G, the emerging mobile standard that promises hundreds of megabits per second of service. The light poles will include miniaturized 5G antennas and base stations, sensors for smart city systems and digitally controlled LED lighting. Launched in the spring of 2017, the project aims to create a proof-of-concept for the technology integration and then to start building an export business for the city’s partner companies.
Finland also has an educational performance that is the envy of the world. For most of the 21st Century, its 15-year olds have been among the very top performers in the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), an ongoing study administered every three years that tests the reading, math and science literacy. Eighty-four percent of Finnish 25-64 year olds have at least an upper secondary education, compared with 75% for the OECD, and 39% hold a higher education degree, compared with 32% for the OECD.
As with broadband, so with education. For students at secondary school level, Espoo is working with a local university and private-sector companies on a completely new model for education called School as a Service (SaaS). A school is traditionally defined as a building. The emerging SaaS model redefines school as a network of resources to support learning. In a process designed by school staff and students, teachers change their focus from imparting knowledge to helping students identify the best way for themselves to learn. They have access not only to their own facilities but to university instructors, classrooms, laboratories and science showcases.
In the first year, students have actively grasped the opportunity to attend university courses. The high school has attracted 150% more applicants than in the previous year, and the new model is reducing costs by 25% through better use of space. A second high school is adopting the SaaS model in 2018, and it will be applied in Shanghai, China as well through a partnership with Tongji University.
To help job-seekers with little education, the Employment Concert Sello project trains the unemployed in job-specific skills in partnership with large shopping centers in Espoo and the companies located there. Employers agree to offer trial places to unemployed residents. Trainers in the program find job seekers who are best suited to each company, train them in applying for jobs and the requirements of work. Since the program’s start in 2015, more than 100 companies have agreed to offer trial positions to job seekers, and over 130 job seekers have gained employment and found access to education.
Educational Innovation for Profit
In Espoo, education is not just a means of equipping the next generation with inquiring minds and employable skills. It is also an economic development program. In 2016, Espoo launched a collaborative project called KYKY Accelerated Co-Creation. It turns schools into living labs that support students’ learning and growth while giving educational technology companies a platform to develop products and services for learning. It recognizes that today’s edtech companies lack real understanding of today’s school life, pedagogy and curriculum, and is creating a new operating model to overcome the challenge.
There are risks in letting profit-minded businesses set the terms of education. The KYKY operating model sets clear steps for schools and companies to co-create new products and services that support learning and digital skills. Co-creation activities are user-driven, participatory and empowering, with school and company deciding together on structure, methods and goals. So far, schools participating in the program have seen an increase in the digital skills of students and teachers, as well as their understanding of entrepreneurship as they rub shoulders with edtech company employees. A total of 40 schools with 33,000 participants took part in the program by the end of the spring term in 2017, and the program claims credit for guiding five education startups to international markets – all of them using the “Co-Created with the City of Espoo” brand in their marketing.
Sustainable at the Core
The term “industrial city” usually describes a place where the needs of industry outweighs the needs of citizens for air they can breathe, water they can drink and a safe place to raise their children. Not so in Espoo. An international benchmark has named Espoo the most sustainable city in Europe. The city gives credit to an ongoing partnership among city government, residents, businesses, universities and other stakeholders. From 2013 to 2016, more than 100,000 people participated in sustainability events and city government launched 17 new sustainability projects in collaboration with partners and citizens.
One of the most remarkable things about Espoo is its recognition that, despite being Finland’s second largest city, it is a small player in a global economy. Espoo is a partner in the Six City Strategy, a cooperative policy uniting the six largest cities in Finland to tackle urban challenges. It focuses on open innovation, open data and open participation. The aim is to facilitate the development of smart city solutions by companies and to create an open market among the cities and companies that provides a nationally significant platform for innovation. Cities offer data while identifying their needs to better serve constitutions. Companies bring their tech expertise, market knowledge and corporate objectives to the partnership. Together, they make the opening up of data a natural part of city operation, while driving the creation of commercially viable applications and businesses. From 2014 to 2017, the municipal and corporate partners have launched 26 projects with a budget of 45 million euros, with an additional 55 million euros forecast through 2020.
The cycles of the year are strong in Espoo. In mid-winter, daylight lasts only seven hours, while in midsummer, the sun is a presence in the sky for all but three hours out of twenty-four. Perhaps it is this which gives the city such an appreciation of the forces beyond its control – in particular the technology changes rippling the world’s economy and challenging every community to adapt. With 275,000 people, Espoo may be Finland’s second biggest city but its adaptability to the future is second to none.
Intelligent Community of the Year 2018
The capital of the state of South Australia, Adelaide also enjoys, according to The Economist, the distinction of being among the most liveable cities in the world. It is the center of a metro area of 1.3 million that contains 75% of the state’s population. That high liveability factor is the result of its comfortable Mediterranean climate and coastal location, a legacy of planning that dates back to its founding in the 19th Century, and a diverse and well-educated population, of which 30% come from overseas and more than 34,000 are international students.
The community is home to the University of Adelaide, University of South Australia, Flinders University and campuses of Carnegie Mellon and University College London. The educational connection has given birth to multiple research and development parks, including the Waite Research Precinct, Technology Park, Science Park and the Research Park at Thebarton.
Growing the IT Economy
Despite its dominance of the state’s population, Adelaide’s housing is relatively cheap – about half the average price of Sydney and two-thirds that of Melbourne. That helps support the growth of an economy that is currently and comfortably driven by government spending. The largest employment sector is health care and social assistance at 13%, followed by retail at 12%. Metro Adelaide is also home to a significant percentage of Australia’s defense industry and a major Royal Australian Air Force base.
Adelaide’s Intelligent Community programs, however, focus on building a more innovative economy. It has partnered with a company called TPG to install Ten Gigabit Adelaide, a fiber-optic network offering 10 Gbps symmetrical capacity to businesses. The network was launched in March 2018 with the goal of running fiber down every street of the central business district and other business centers. By July 2019, it had connected more than 400 buildings and 200 businesses and was on target to reach 1,000 by mid-2020. City government estimates that Ten Gigabit Adelaide will deliver between A$16m and A$76m in economic benefit, lead to the creation of 2,500 new jobs in six years, and have a major positive impact on business attraction, retention and consumer spending. It will also provide the fundamental infrastructure needed to deliver future smart city projects for better traffic management, smart lighting and security video.
The city has also retained its first Entrepreneur in Residence to guide aspiring entrepreneurs, company founders and business leaders in growing investment-ready start-ups. Kirk Drage returned to Adelaide after a decade working for Microsoft as Head of Entrepreneurship and Innovation. His multi-country Asian team recruited more than 8,000 startups during his tenure. He works from the Smart City Studio, founded in 2015 in partnership with Cisco, which declared Adelaide one of its Lighthouse Cities that same year.
A different kind of guidance is provided by the Digital Hub Training Program, which encourages lifelong learning through community computer literacy training. The Hub delivered 1,392 programs in its most recent year, which brought training on computers, tablets, smartphones, virtual reality and robotics to over 4,000 residents. More than 200 organizations also sent their employees to workshops on selling online, using social media for growth, and understanding emerging technologies. As part of the Digital Hub Training Program, the city also launched its Tech Talk series in partnership with Adelaide University’s Australian Institute for Machine Learning program in February 2019. The first series featured insights from many distinguished speakers from academic and government posts throughout the country.
Supporting What Works
The emphasis on preparing for a digital economy has not diverted Adelaide from investing in the things that make it a great community today. Study Adelaide is a program that markets the city as a destination for international students. (Wonderful weather and great beaches probably help.) It targets 43 cities in 11 countries and provides a joined-up approach to attract students, provide support for them once they arrive and build connections with local employers as they prepare to leave school. The success of the program is easily measured: students from overseas currently contribute about A$1.8 billion in economic value to the city.
With quality of life such an important driver, it is no wonder that Adelaide has signed on to the Paris Climate Accord of Mayors. Its Carbon Neutral Strategy aims to have the city become the first in the world to be certified as producing zero net carbon emissions by 2020. Adelaide already slashed its carbon emissions 60% from 1994 to 2010, when a new energy management plan began to transform how the city obtained its energy. City Council reduced its energy consumption by 15% through 2015 and achieved savings of A$800,000 in the process. It is now piloting a smart LED lighting program that is expected to reduce energy consumption by a further 10% and produce an average monthly savings of 1.8 tonnes of carbon dioxide. Adelaide also developed a Sustainability Incentives Scheme in 2015 to provides financial rebates to the community to support adoption of sustainable technologies and actions that improve environmental performance and support growth in the low carbon economy. Since its inception, the program has provided over $1 million in rebates to citizens and companies in the community.
Nature, location and history have been kind to Adelaide, which is Australia’s oldest municipal authority. Like all cities, it is faced with an increasingly unpredictable future, from climate change to disruptive innovation, and Adelaide is equipping itself with the infrastructure and programs needed to turn challenge into social, economic and cultural success.
Smart21 2018 | 2019 | 2020
Nestled between two mountain ranges and the sea at the northeastern tip of the island, Yilan County is a cultural melting pot for Taiwan. Multiple indigenous tribes have settled in the area, beginning with the Kavalan people nearly 1000 years ago, followed by the Atayal people 250 years ago and finally the Han Chinese fifty years later. Due to its diverse historical influences, Yilan is home to many culture festivals, including the International Children’s Folklore and Folkgame Festival, Taiwan’s most internationally famous festival. The county’s striking location and unique culture have led to a thriving tourism industry.
Promoting Universal Broadband
Yilan’s networking demands have grown exponentially in recent history due to the rising tourism industry and the increasingly digital lifestyle of its populace. To meet this demand, the Yilan County Government has created the Promoting Universal Broadband project. The project focuses on three areas: free public Wi-Fi, FTTS and GSN/VPN. The county government has collaborated with the Taiwan central government to establish iTaiwan Wi-Fi hotspots all across Yilan. In addition, the local government of Yilan has worked with Taiwan Mobile to promote the Eland-Free Wi-Fi Plan, which provides free, Yilan-specific wireless Internet services in travel and tourist destinations. The Yilan County Government has helped to establish over 1,025 iTaiwan and Eland-Free hotspots as of 2016 with even more on the way.
The Yilan City Government’s FTTS Plan aims to bring Internet services into schools. As part of the plan, the government has set up broadband networks and digital facilities in 108 schools. Each class has also been allocated a computer and single-DMD projector to make use of the Internet availability.
The GSN/VPN Plan is the Yilan County Government’s project to build the architecture for county-wide Internet access. As part of the plan, the government also aims to build a large-scale virtual private Intranet for the county. All twelve townships in Yilan County have 100% network service coverage as of 2016 with over 300 locations providing network services.
Cultivating Future Talent in Yilan County
The Yilan County Government has introduced a series of educational and training courses for the county’s labor force, focusing especially on youth. Many of Yilan County’s schools, including Toucheng High School of Commerce and Home Economics, Luodong High School of Commerce, and National Yilan University have worked with local companies on the Youth Career Development Project. Together, they have held ten different information sessions, aiming to match school departments with appropriate companies in the county to help youth find the best jobs for them. The three schools have also organized the Labor Workforce Employment Skill Cultivation Project with J.P. Morgan Chase Bank. In 2015, 348 people participated in the project, and 228 of them acquired new skill licenses that allowed them to join the labor market.
The local government has planned a number of other educational programs, including the Mobile Learning Exemplar School Project, the Scratch Program Design Competition, the digital learning platform Moodle, and the Junyi Academy. Together, these programs provide digital education for students of all ages, focusing on computer literacy, programming, and mechatronics skills. In particular, elementary and junior high schools in the county are now completing 3D printing and robot design courses. The four programs have attracted hundreds of participants as of 2016, including 700 students in the Mobile Learning Exemplar School Project and 560 contestants in the 7th Scratch Program Design Competition alone.
Blending Tradition with Modern Innovation
Yilan County aims to blend the best of the old and the new, using the benefits of the broadband economy to transform its traditional industries rather than building from scratch. The local government has begun two projects: the Chung Hsing Cultural and Creative Park – Industry Incubation Project and the Yilan Cultural Creative Industries Counseling and Promotion Project to achieve this goal. The Chung Hsing Cultural and Creative Park will be launched early in 2017 with a storefront factory layout that allows multiple local creative industries to attract customers side-by-side. The park will include a network-sharing center, travel resource and mobile location services, an AR tour system on the park’s history, an online payment system and online ordering platform, a cultural information and travel planning platform, and many other services. For ease of transportation, the Chung Hsing Cultural and Creative Park will also offer an electric shuttle system, an electric vehicle sharing system, and a smart parking system. As of 2016, twenty-eight micro-businesses and studios are scheduled to be part of the park on launch.
The Yilan Cultural Creative Industries Counseling and Promotion Project works to attract local industries, such as textile dyeing, carpentry, and paper-making, to the Chung Hsing Cultural and Creative Park alongside young entrepreneurs aiming to start new online businesses. As part of the project, the local government provides assistance in eliminating regulatory obstructions for local businesses and outside startups wishing to relocate to the park. The project also provides digital channels for all its businesses to promote their products to a wider audience online and showcase Yilan’s creative industries to the world.
Digital Access for All
As broadband access reaches across Yilan County, the local government aims to help residents better utilize it with free public computer courses. The Yilan County Government has set up sixteen township information management centers (TIMCs) throughout the area, each equipped with computers and broadband Internet access. TIMCs provide computer education and training courses to local residents, focusing on Internet research and accessing government, education, and life services online. As of June 2016, 19,033 residents have attended these free courses since the initiative was launched in 2006.
The local government has also set up a series of six digital opportunity centers (DOCs) throughout its rural townships to spread digital literacy and knowledge to the rural regions of Yilan County. The current DOCs include the Yuanshan DOC (Tong le Elementary School), the Sanshing DOC (the Sanshing Public Library), the Jhuangwei DOC (Houpi Community Development Association), the Datong DOC (Stacis Churg), and the Nan’ao DOC (Nan’ao Public Library). Each DOC is equipped with computer and networking equipment to assist with courses on computer, mobile, and social network applications. The Department of Applied Informatics at Fo Guang University has provided 25 of its students with the opportunity to work in rural education through these DOCs, aiming to reduce the gap between urban and rural education.
Yilan, Town of Happiness
To spread awareness of its unique cultural and business offerings, Yilan County has adopted the brand “Yilan, Town of Happiness.” The brand focuses on Yilan’s many festivals and beautiful landscape to attract visitors. The Yilan County Image Calendar Project, begun sixteen years ago, showcases Yilan’s vibrant communities to the world. Each year, twelve communities in the county each create one month’s page of the calendar, including image and text. To facilitate as much participation as possible, the local government sets up community subsidization plans to provide funding to any community that helps create the calendar that year.
Yilan’s International Children’s Folklore and Folkgame Festival, held every year for the past twenty-one, is the country’s most internationally renowned festival. Each year, dozens of performance groups from around the world are invited to perform at the event, which includes exhibitions, games, performances, and cultural exchanges.
Yilan County is home to many other festivals and events as well, including the Yilan Green Expo, the Asia-Pacific Traditional Arts Festival and the Yilan Festival of Land, Arts and Creativity. The Green Expo includes various creative performances and an experience hall, which showcases green living and organic and sustainable production. The Asia-Pacific Traditional Arts Festival focuses on a specific arts topic each year with exhibits, performances, forums, workshops, seminars and demonstrations. The event creates a window through which the rest of the world can experience traditional Asian arts and crafts. Both the Yilan Green Expo and the Asia-Pacific Traditional Arts Festival have been held for over fifteen years. The Yilan Festival of Land, Arts and Creativity is by far the newest event, as it was established in 2016. The festival aims to raise public awareness of land conservation issues and local cultural offerings by inviting international artists and student groups to meet and interact with residents. This ensures that the works of art and other creative projects completed during the festival are a reflection of Yilan’s land and people.
Yilan County’s unique blend of people and cultures has always been its strength. With the introduction of broadband access and education, the county can show this strength to the world, attracting visitors and investors to spur future growth.
In the News
Read the latest updates about Yilan County.
If you have ever eaten a bowl of instant noodles, you owe a debt to Momofuku Ando, founder of Nissin Foods and inventor of this staple of Asian fast food, who was born and raised in Tainan City. This city of 1.9 million was the historic capital of Taiwan and the cultural heritage of centuries remains one of Tainan’s most important assets that drives a thriving tourist industry.
Tainan today, however, is about much more than the past. It is home to multiple science and technology parks including the Southern Taiwan Science Park, Tainan Technology Park and Shugu LCD Park. The tenant rolls are dominated by optoelectronics, integrated circuits, green energy and biotech companies, which together with more traditional manufacturing generate more than half of the city’s economic activity.
Partnering for Progress
Tainan’s government supports industry in multiple ways. Its Small Business Innovation Research program promotes and subsidizes R&D by smaller companies and incentivizes universities and research institutions to partner with them on commercialization. It has adopted a national program called Dual System Training, a carefully structured co-op employment and apprenticeship system. It accepts high school graduates and guides them through four years of work-study with Tainan employers that generally leaves them debt-free and employed upon graduation. Tainan entered the program in 2012 and by 2016, it had involved 6 universities and 37 companies, and admitted 250 students. Retention rates at partner companies hover around 80%.
Government also invests in broadband as a promoter of quality of life for employers and citizens. Adoption of fixed broadband already exceeds 95%, leaving little room for improvement. The government’s focus instead is on hotspot WiFi availability and applications that can transform living and working in the city. Beginning in 2016, Tainan City created a series of free WiFi hotspots based on its already 4G-equipped traffic light control boxes at intersections. As of August 2017, traffic lights at 1,600 intersections, 904 stop station smart signs, and 400 buses in Tainan now provide free 4G WiFi. The city also installed free WiFi in 35 smart parking lots.
To make use of Tainan’s WiFi availability, the city is in the process of building a set of applications for a Beacon city. In 2016, it published a number of apps, including “Alley X Tainan,” Guide to Historical Sites in Tainan” and “VZ TAIWAN Smart Tourism,” which provide information on nearby foods and shops, interesting stories about the area and transportation information at scenic spots, historical sites and restaurants and shops around the city. Tainan has installed nearly 1,000 Beacon devices at its smart bus stations to provide arrival time information, traffic reports, information on nearby tourist destinations and other services. As of August 2017, Tainan City has roughly 11,000 beacons with a goal of 20,000 installed in the coming years.
Cultivating Youth Innovation
The Tainan city government has set up a number of maker bases for the city’s youth in old housing developments and other unused spaces. The bases—Tainan Maker Base for Youth-BIG O2, PunPlace and Southern Maker Base—all include Hackerspace, Makerspace, TechShop, FabLab and other maker spindles. Tainan’s maker bases provide youth entrepreneurs with software and hardware access, including 3D printing, laster cutting, metal casting machines and AR and VR support in spaces with lower rents that clients can more easily afford.
To further support young innovators, Chang Jung Christian University and Kun Shan University have introduced coaching courses in digital entrepreneurship and marketing. The courses, taught by professional teachers, set up digital cooperation platforms as part of the class, providing students with a platform to increase product visibility and access venture capital.
Mobile Networking Project
Since 2009, the Tainan city government has provided free digital skills classes to middle-aged and senior citizens to help them make use of the city’s newer digital services. Topics include basic smartphone usage and applications, e-commerce, smartphone usage for travel, and smartphone usage for scheduling, including medical appointments, hotel booking and ticket purchases. The classes are taught in a “mobile classroom” environment in which teachers drive to the students, bringing all their class materials and equipment along, so that less mobile residents can still take part. In 2015, 3,428 residents attended at least one class, with the 43% of students being citizens between the ages of 60 and 70.
The Mobile Networking Project has developed a partnership with the Department of Health to improve quality of life and medical care for Tainan’s senior citizens. By offering classes on smartphone usage, the project gives residents easier access to the wealth of medical information available on the Internet and has also streamlined the appointment booking system for those seeking medical aid.
Tainan City has also focused on closing the digital divide in rural areas. In 2006, the city government set up its first Digital Opportunity Center in a rural area. As of 2016, Tainan has 12 such Digital Opportunity Centers. The centers provide lessons in the use of digital technologies and long-distance health teaching, in cooperation with Chi Mei Hospital. DOCs also teach network marketing, helping on rural businesses like small-scale farmers and merchants in remote areas to market their goods more widely and effectively.
Air Quality Monitoring and Transparency
Tainan launched the Bright & Clear Skies program in 2014 to improve the quality of air by reducing particle pollution in the city. Particle pollution is created by a wide variety of daily activities, including factory production, driving vehicles, construction work, road dust, and many other sources. The program targets eight major source of pollution, including enforcing more rigorous vehicle inspections to prevent gas emission violations, advising local businesses on dust-capturing equipment, and encouraging residents to drive less and use public transit. Road dust is the largest source of particle pollution in Tainan. Dust particles on the roads are thrown up into the air by each vehicle that passes along a paved surface. In addition to encouraging citizens to use more public transit, Tainan has organized road-washing trucks throughout the city to minimize dust on major roads.
To ensure that air quality continues to improve, the Tainan government will be installing 240 air quality detection AirBoxes, donated by Edimax, throughout the city. The AirBoxes detect humidity, temperature, and multiple pollution figures, including PM2.5 levels. Edimax plans to collaborate with the Academia Sinica and Taian City to analyze data collected by the AirBoxes, and the city will set up a visual representation of the findings for general audiences. All citizens of Tainan will soon be able to access the visual representation and the indexed data online at airbox.tainan.tw or through an app on their smartphones.
Tainan City is an ideal location for solar power and technology development, as its average sunshine per year is roughly 25% above the national average at 2000h. The city also has a flourishing green energy industry, featuring 161 green energy enterprises, 61 of which are solar-power-supply industries. Tainan’s Solar City Initiative began in 2011 to organize these resources into one central plan that includes implementing solar rooftops, solar public houses, solar living communities and agricultural greenhouses. The city is currently planning to establish a solar PV system on salt industry land, which is useless for cultivation, as well as restored landfill sites in the area. The plan aims to have this solar infrastructure complete in two years’ time. Tainan also launched a solar city service network in 2016 to provide planning subsidies, manufacturer financing, benefit calculations and other services to businesses and investors.
In an ever-changing world of new technologies and the challenges that come with them, Tainan has focused first and foremost on its people, providing education, easy avenues for participation and a better standard of living to lead the city as a whole into a brighter future.
Smart21 2017 | 2018 | 2019
Nelson didn’t make the cut in the top seven Intelligent Communities of 2017 revealed today.
The Queen City did make the shortlist of 21 announced last October but got no farther.Read more
The third-largest city in New York State, Rochester was one of America’s original boomtowns, first in the milling of flour and then as a major hub of manufacturing. The Rochester area has given birth to such famed companies as Eastman Kodak, Bausch & Lomb, Xerox and Western Union. Of the four, however, Kodak filed for bankruptcy in 2012, from which it emerged a year later a much smaller company, while the others relocated their headquarters to other US cities. As the city suffered from corporate downsizing and restructuring, the population fell by one-third from a 1950 high of 330,000 to 210,500 by 2010.
The local economy, however, retains pillars of strength. It is the home of the University of Rochester, the Rochester Institute of Technology and Monroe Community College. As large companies downsized, Rochester and the surrounding Monroe County have seen growth in small, high-tech firms, many of them leveraging the expertise in imaging and photographic technology that is the legacy of Kodak. This progress has not come by accident, but through growing collaboration among local government, educators and business, with support from state and national government.
Collaborating on Progress
The University of Rochester and its medical center are now the area’s largest employer, which attracted US$1.9bn in research grants between 2007 and 2012. That money has fueled local growth beyond the campus. As early as the 1990s, Rochester began building a network of private and nonprofit partnerships to diversify its economy. Organizations like High Tech Rochester and Greater Rochester Enterprise are helping create startups based on University of Rochester technologies.
A recent example of collaboration is the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership, of which Rochester is a part. This has brought nearly US$9m in public-sector grants to the city, which are being invested in remediation of brownfield manufacturing sites, an Innovation Accelerator Foundation and a business accelerator launched by High Tech Rochester. Private investors are also active, having recently funded companies including university spin-outs such as Omnin-ID, Adarza Biosystems and Clerio Vision.
To leverage that success, Rochester has begun investing in broadband. The city established a contract with Fibertech to run conduit that the city would own and could use or lease according to its ordinances. The contract focused on minimizing street cuts and splicing fiber into Rochester’s existing cable backbone to reduce installation costs. As of August 2019, 21 out of 24 city facilities specified in the contract have been successfully connected.
Training the Future Workforce
Beginning in 2015, the City of Rochester Department of Recreation and Youth Services has created two programs for training youth in future employment skills. The first, aimed at youth ages 14 to 20, is the Youth Employment Training program. The program teaches leadership, conflict resolution, team-building and decision-making skills, as well as providing resume consultation and development, interview skills development and job placement assistance. Graduates from the training program can then take their new skills to the second program, the Summer of Opportunity Program.
The Summer of Opportunity Program provides summer work experiences or vocational exploration opportunities for Rochester youth who are still in high school. The first part of the program is for younger students, ages 14 to 15, and provides them with summer career exploration and work training experiences at local private and non-profit companies. Youth trainees also receive 8 hours of life skills training, including financial literacy, professionalism, leadership and health education. After finishing this tier of the program, youth ages 16 to 20 can progress to the second tier, where they take “youth worker” positions in the public sector or with a local non-profit employer. These positions pay minimum wage and offer 20-35 hours per week of work for 7 to 8 weeks over the summer, allowing students to gain real work experience before moving on to post-secondary education or the workforce.
Rochester’s City School District is taking steps to integrate broadband access and technologies in the classroom and even in students’ homes. By the end of December 2019 all high school students will have assigned Chromebooks to use at school and at home. To complement this Chromebook initiative, the school district has partnered with the 1 Million Foundation to provide free mobile internet access to all high school students in need.
Creating a Center for Innovation
To help local entrepreneurs get off the ground no matter their circumstances, Rochester has created a Business Innovation Center on the fourth floor of its Central Library. The Business Innovation Center staff are trained in business research and offer their consulting services for free to the public. Staff members also provide one-on-one coaching and research interviews for clients, as well as free training sessions through partnerships with SCORE and the SUNTY Brockport Small Business Centers. Topics include how to market a business, filing taxes and managing human resources. The Business Innovation Center employs an Intellectual Property Librarian as well who regularly assists entrepreneurs with patent and trademark research.
The legacy of manufacturing job losses, however, has left the city a sizable low-income population with poor prospects for participation in the digital global economy. Rochester has more people living at less than half the US Federal poverty level than any other American city of similar size. For that reason, many of the city’s programs target the creation of economic mobility for its poor citizens.
Operation Transform Rochester offers five programs geared toward education, vocation and employment. They target youngsters age 11 to 18 and offer training in basic career skills, leadership, self-development, and social and emotional health. Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) brings together secondary schools and community colleges to offer a six-year program in information technology that produces an associate degree as well as university credit, and qualifies graduates for entry-level IT jobs.
A program called Kiva Rochester provides small, no-interest, crowdfunded loans to help low-income entrepreneurs start local retail and service businesses. More important than the money is the process: Kiva’s borrowers are vetted by trustee organizations who publicly vouch for their creditworthiness. The city’s Focused Investment Strategy targets four highly distressed neighborhoods for property investment – places riddled with concentrated poverty, elevated rates of crime, tax and mortgage delinquency and distressed housing stock. The investment has gone into demolition, building code enforcement, building improvements, new construction and streetscape beautification. Public investment of US$17m triggered private-sector investment of $89m, which has created hundreds of homes while reducing crime and boosting neighborhood pride.
The Rochester Environmental Job Training Program (REJob) is a federally funded program for underemployed and unemployed City residents. The eight-week program provides life skills, remedial education training and opportunities for long-term employment in the areas of asbestos abatement, hazardous waste site cleanup and general construction fields. REJob also provides training certifications needed for such jobs. High achieving graduating students may also be offered additional training in related fields, including lead and mold abatement.
Determined to bring more of its citizens into the digital economy, Rochester is using the institutions it inherited from a proud industrial past to engineer a brighter future.
Smart21 2017 | 2019 | 2020
(26 JANUARY 2017 – NEW YORK CITY) – Thought leaders from cities as diverse as New Westminster in British Columbia, Canada, Tallinn in Estonia and Binh Duong in Vietnam will be in Taipei, Taiwan on 9 February to hear who makes the list of the Intelligent Community Forum’s annual Top7 Intelligent Communities. The international awards program, now in its 18th year, begins with 400 candidates each year. Through the work of a team of international analysts, the list goes to 21 and then 7. In June, one of the Top7 will be named the world’s Intelligent Community of the Year in New York at the ICF Summit (June 6-8, www.icfsummit.com). Montreal, Quebec, Canada is the reigning Intelligent Community of the Year.Read more