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 | 2021
(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
A suburb of Toronto, this city of 94,000 on the shore of Lake Ontario is not your standard bedroom community. It is home to Pickering Nuclear Generating Station, an eight-reactor facility with a capacity of more than 4,000 megawatts. Around the plant has grown a cluster of energy technology firms, as well as companies specializing in audio and electrical equipment, pharmaceuticals and water purification and chemical recovery. The northern half of the municipality is largely rural and agricultural with a scattering of residential developments.
Filling in Broadband Gaps
Although most of Pickering has high broadband availability, 17% of residents still do not have access to any Internet services or cannot afford the few options available to them. To combat this problem, the city has adopted a series of policies and initiatives as part of the Connected Pickering brand. Pickering adopted at “Dig Once” policy in 2016 to mandate that all future road construction projects will including conduit building and a plan for connecting roads. In 2017, the city partnered with Distributel, a Toronto-based ISP, to fund the “Connect to Innovate” project, which will provide Pickering with a resilient broadband network that includes connecting 5 underserved rural hamlets. The project will also provide Pickering with 12 strands of fiber, allowing for ultra-highspeed Internet access in the city’s Innovation Corridor.
To fill in gaps of access and affordability, Pickering has also deployed 35 wireless hotspots at public facilities and waterfront parks and plans to deploy 10 more. The network is already connecting with 5,000 unique devices and supporting more than 20,000 sessions per month. Next on the city’s agenda is a community engagement program to gain input on where free Wi-Fi should be deployed in the future.
Equipping People for Broadband
Despite high broadband availability and adoption, Pickering has a skills gaps among residents with lower income and/or lower educational achievement. The community tackles the challenge through two programs. The Pickering Library system runs a free program for digital skills training that is available to all residents. It focuses on computer basics, common software applications and web browsing. With a library card, residents can also take part in online learning through partners including Lynda.com for software training, Gale Courses in business, and Mango Languages. Thousands of residents have taken courses, which have opened doors, changed lives and established new connections between residents.
PPL Connect, the second program, brings training directly to residents in need. Funded by a research grant, it works with partners that provide onsite and one-to-one training in such skills as submitting a resume online, using videoconferencing services and web search. For those without access technologies, the program loans laptops and portable Wi-Fi hotspots. PPL Connect gives priority to those with the lowest level of skills but also helps residents with solid technical skills to learn advanced topics from 3D printing to robotics.
Pickering’s third program is the iHelp Service, which provides one-on-one assistance with technology issues and questions in the Library or virtually. iHelp supplements training provided by the Pickering Library and PPL Connect by giving residents a support network to access for questions that may come up after their technology training, without requiring them to attend or request another full session. Since its creation, the iHelp Service has assisted over 17,000 clients each year on a variety of topics including setting up email accounts and creating online photobases for personal and business needs.
Sustainability is taken seriously in Pickering, where quality of life is vital to its economy. A program called Celebrating Sustainable Neighborhoods is a competition for neighborhood groups – schools, community groups, place of worship and businesses – to improve the place they live. A peer vote each year determines which neighborhood receives a grant of up to C$10,000 to further its work. Since the program’s launch in 2013, it has generated more than 350 community-building projects from community gardens and charity fundraisers to litter cleanups, tree planting, youth programs and waste and energy reduction.
One of Pickering’s newer sustainability projects is the Sustainable Seaton: Community-Building workshop series, established in 2016. The series, funded by the Seaton Landowners Group, provides builders, designers, architects and municipal staff with a variety of tools and knowledge from industry experts on sustainable building and design practices. The first workshop in 2016 focused on Net Zero Housing, while the second in 2017 focused on energy collection, storage and distribution. Each workshop has been well-received and attended by over 100 guests.
The same drive to improve life at the community level extends to all of the city. As Toronto’s economy expanded from 1996 to 2001, Pickering saw its population swell, resulting in the rapid conversion of farmland in the north to residential subdivisions. The city responded by slapping development restrictions on agriculture land. Forecasts, however, project the population of Pickering to more than double to 190,000 by 2031, creating enormous demand for housing. The community is engaging in negotiations with developers to better balance demand for development with the need to conserve rural quality of life.
While protecting its rural areas, Pickering has spent two years studying and conducting public consultation about a plan for urban intensification of its downtown. The plan seeks to manage growth, articulate placemaking opportunities and target investment rationally over the next 20 years. The resulting study, Downtown Pickering: A Vision for Intensification, provides computer modeling, policies and guidelines for land use, mobility, built form and capital projects.
Pickering has also focused on energy sustainability, completing an audit of the entire city’s streetlight infrastructure in 2016. Based on the audit’s findings, the city has begun upgrading its streetlights to LED, which is expected to save Pickering nearly $700,000 annually in energy and maintenance costs. As of late 2017, the streetlight replacement is 20% complete.
Population growth offers Pickering opportunities for greater prosperity in the future, but only if it can maintain a high quality of life for citizens and ensure that the benefits of growth are shared across the economy. The chance to fulfill those goals brought the city to adopt the framework of the Intelligent Community Forum to guide its development.
Smart21 2017 | 2018
The city of Nelson has a long history of booming growth, quick modernization, and community action. Founded on the discovery of silver in the nearby mountains, Nelson grew into a thriving transportation and distribution center for the region, expanding its economy into forestry and agriculture as well as mining. The city of just over 10,000 is found in the Selkirk Mountains near the southern border of British Columbia and is the regional seat of the Central Kootenay Regional District, despite making up only about one fifth of the region’s population. Nelson has struck a rare balance of modernization and preservation, updating many of its buildings with modern conveniences over the past half century, beginning with aluminum siding in the 1960s, while maintaining its historic downtown as a window into the past.
Local businesses and organizations can take advantage of Nelson’s dark fiber network, Nelson Fibre, which has been in operation since 2005. Nelson Fibre is a growing utility with over 50 fiber strands currently deployed to local businesses, theaters, schools, colleges, municipal departments, and downtown work spaces. The city also has its own local wireless company, Columbia Wireless, which was one of Nelson Fibre’s original service providers alongside DHC Communication Inc., Sensible Solutions Inc. and the Columbia Basin Broadband Corporation. To raise awareness of the network, The Nelson Fibre Sales and Marketing Plan issues editorials and press releases to educate key organizations about the benefits of broadband fiber and also about installation and deployment. Columbia Wireless also educates local customers about their Internet connectivity options and provides a variety of wireless packages.
Nelson serves as a general broadband advocate via the Broadband Communication project, educating its citizens and local businesses in the value of high speed Internet access for students and organizations and in the many broadband options available to them. The city publishes articles on the solutions broadband provides to a host of technical and often mission-critical business applications. Thanks to the project, the average business in Nelson knows of the many service providers available in the area, including Telus and Shaw, which provide a wide range of asymmetrical high-speed services even in surrounding rural areas.
Founded in 2010 by Brad Pommen, the Nelson Tech Club (NTC) “Hackerspace” offers weekly technology programs for local youth ages 10-16. The club provides mentors, tools and resources—using a social learning framework based on STEM initiatives—for up to 50 participants each week. NTC provides its tools and resources to the community at low or sometimes no cost to increase technology adoption and train local youth in technical skills for future careers. The club also coordinates with the RoboGames youth robotics competition for the Kootenay region. Since its founding, the NTC Hackerspace has grown into Canada’s largest all-ages, public Hackerspace with over 400 registered members in 2016.
In addition to broadband services and education, Nelson has also developed programs to help local business and innovators get off the ground. Selkirk-SME Applied Research and Technology Solutions (SMARTS) is a program developed with Selkirk College to accelerate local small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The SMARTS program helps SMEs develop project plans and secure funding proposals, and also provides access to research support from Selkirk College faculty and students working in the areas of geospatial and digital fabrication technologies. Since its creation, the program has aided 38 SMEs and provided 25 other SMEs with references to other organizations when they did not qualify for the program. Six full projects have been completed with SMARTS consultation with five more currently in development.
Library Access Fills Broadband Gaps
Even with the wide range of broadband services available in Nelson, not all citizens have high-speed Internet access. The Nelson Public Library offers access to computers and high-speed WiFi service, as well as one-to-one training and small group sessions in technology usage. The city provides the public library with 10MB fiberoptic WiFi service for this purpose.
Path to 2040 Sustainability Plan
Nelson has adapted well to change throughout its history, and to continue this legacy, the city has developed the Path to 2040 Sustainability Plan. As part of this and related plans, the Nelson City Council set aggressive corporate GHG emission targets, resulting in a 25% reduction in corporate emissions to date and making Nelson one of fewer than 10 Canadian municipalities to achieve the highest reduction levels in the Partners for Climate Protection Program. The city has also launched a home energy retrofit program to finance retrofits and a Solar Farm project that has nearly sold out with no subsidies offered.
Nelson has always looked within for its strength, from building its own hydroelectric generating system in the early 1900s to the Nelson Fibre network of today. By educating and providing its people with high-speed broadband access and facilitating local innovation, the city has laid a path toward a future as booming as its past.
Founded upon the discovery of gold in the region in the mid-1800s, New Westminster was originally meant to be “a second England on the shores of the Pacific.” The city served as the capital of the colony of British Columbia but was eventually replaced by Victoria when the two colonies united to form Canada’s sixth province. New Westminster has been an important economic and transportation center in western Canada for over a century with a wide mix of industrial sectors that have allowed it to weather economic changes and hardships alike.
Bringing Fiber to New Westminster with BridgeNet
BridgeNet is New Westminster’s city-owned open access fiber network, officially launched in June 2016. The first phase of the fiber network project was completed in September, enabling four new Internet service providers to provide 1 gigabit high-speed service to key areas of the city. The city itself serves as the neutral and independent open access provider. This allows New Westminster to offer standard and transparent pricing to ISPs on the network, thereby increasing consumer choices and stimulating broadband service competition. As part of BridgeNet, New Westminster is collaborating with telecommunications providers, Internet service providers and value-added service vendors to bring more connectivity options throughout the city. The city has also signed an agreement with BC-Net, a not-for-profit shared information technology services organization in British Columbia, to bring fiber connectivity to Douglas College, Justice Institute of British Columbia and the Royal Columbia Hospital.
The Training Group
Douglas College in New Westminster has taken a leading role in preparing the next generation of entrepreneurs with the Training Group: Self Employment Services (SEP). The Training Group delivers customized labor market training and programs for government, business other community groups, including business planning, classroom, training, professional mentoring services and general group support for budding entrepreneurs. The SEP team consists of business consultants and instructors with experience in launching and running their own successful businesses. The Training Group’s combination of real-world business skills and entrepreneurial training has been wildly successful with 95% of participants launching their own businesses after the program and 72% of those remaining in business for at least four years afterward.
The IDEA Centre
New Westminster’s Innovation, Discovery, Education, and Advancement (IDEA) Centre is a collaboration among many institutions, both in the public and private sector, to support medical research and development, business and personal services, offices and advanced education facilities. The project was begun in 2015 in conjunction with the redevelopment of the Royal Columbian Hospital, as a way to expand economic activity in the surrounding Sapperton District. The IDEA Centre’s many collaborators hope to create an environment for advanced education and research in the district, including establishing Centers of Excellence such as a proposed mental health center and medical training facilities such as a simulator lab. The IDEA Centre was designed as an economic development strategy with input from the mayor’s Task Force on the Economic Health Care Cluster.
To facilitate the development of this new health care center, the BridgeNet fiber optic network is being extended to the area around the hospital and to Simon Fraser University Harbour Centre. The city has created joint fiber optic infrastructure plans with the Fraser Health Authority (FHA) to assist with the redevelopment of the RCH campus and the FHA’s regional communications and data center. In addition, New Westminster has developed a neighborhood district system powered by clean, renewable energy for the Sapperton District and, as of 2017, is in the process of redeveloping Sapperton Park, including the local playground and sports field.
Fostering Digital Literacy and Inclusion
The New Westminster Public Library launched a program in the fall of 2011 to address literacy gaps in citizens’ use of library computers. Under the program, library patrons can book appointments with library staff to get individual training that meets their specific needs, working either with the library computers or the patrons’ own devices. To further improve the program, the New Westminster Public Library conducted a study of patrons’ computer use in 2014, which lead to the introduction of Sunday morning computer tutorials for seniors. Local high school students volunteer as instructor aids for these classes and receive training and a certificate that they can use as work experience credit for college.
In addition to digital instruction, the New Westminster Public Library has also expanded its collections to include a wide variety of digital resources. The library began providing e-books through its membership in the BC Libraries Coop in 2010 and added e-magazines and e-newspapers in 2012. To help support its e-collections, the New Westminster Public Library offers e-readers preloaded with a collection of e-books for patrons to borrow and has also created a “Tech Bar” to showcase Android and Apple tablets for patrons’ use.
Continuing its history of economic diversity and growth in the face of hardship, New Westminster is bringing the future to its corner of British Columbia via high-speed Internet access and an educated public ready to put its resources to the best use for innovation.
The capital city of Russia, Moscow produces more than 20% of that nation’s GDP and, with over 12 million people, is the largest city on the European continent. It is also a city that has taken enormous strides to build a collaborative, knowledge-based economy in a nation better known for top-down leadership, where 80% of exports are of oil, natural gas and other natural resources.
City of Technology Parks
Moscow has 26 technology parks and technopolises spread across all its districts, which support more than 1,300 high-tech companies. Plans call for more than doubling the number to 60 by the end of 2017. They specialize in microelectronics, optoelectronics, photonics, medical tech, pharmaceuticals, analytical and monitoring equipment, robotics, telecom and energy. City government seeded the first set of tech parks with public funds but the primary source of investment today is private-sector.
In addition to providing facilities, technology transfer, incubation and acceleration services, the tech parks develop human capital for Moscow. Leading universities, research institutions and businesses have implemented training programs extending from young children to graduate students, and opened 46 youth creativity centers serving 20,000 attendees.
To support continued growth, Moscow established a Moscow Innovation Cluster project (i.moscow) to create ongoing relationships among entrepreneurs, development institutions, existing companies and educational and scientific organizations. Participants have access to more than 200 support services, including help finding customers, partners, investors, premises and equipment. The Cluster has more than 19,000 registered participants and partners.
Integrated Educational System
The tech parks represent the top rung of a ladder of educational opportunity running through the public school system. The Moscow Department of Education collaborates with universities, colleges, research institutions and cultural organizations to offer specialized courses beginning in primary school. More than 150 Moscow schools offer profession-oriented medical and engineering classes across the grade levels. Universities develop the programs and train teachers to deliver them, while companies and medical institutions hold hands-on workshops where students learn occupational skills.
For high school students, the same team creates pre-university classes offering a higher level of training in engineering and medical subjects as well as design and research. By the end of the 2016-17 school year, 96% of Moscow schools will have implemented at least 3 profession-oriented programs.
Technograd is the main front office for Moscow’s vocational education system. It provides training in more than 40 in-demand professions that is designed to meet the actual requirements of employers.
For people in the workforce, the city developed the “My Career” employment center, which offers help in finding suitable jobs, from guidance in resume development and handling interviews to career and psychological counseling. The center’s catalogue lists more than 46,000 job openings and nearly 30,000 resumes, and the center’s online activity is attracting up to 10,000 people per month.
Number 2 for Wi-Fi Hotspots in the World
In 2015, Moscow was second only to Seoul, South Korea in the number of free public Wi-Fi hotspots, according to PriceWaterhouseCoopers. A joint project of city government and private investors, the network includes 30,000 hotspots across the metro system, public spaces, student hostels, and bus and trolley stops. Every day, 2.5 million passengers connect to the network on the metro and 85,000 unique users go online in public spaces. All Moscow schools have broadband access, and more than 1 million Muscovites access school services online.
The city has also taken a systematic approach to encouraging widespread cellular coverage. It developed a standard process to guide cellular carriers in locating base stations, which reduced their costs and installation time while avoiding citizen complaints about antennas. Five permanent 5G test zones have been rolled out in different parts of the city to study 5G-based use cases. And as part of a large-scale housing renovation project, the city is planning a new generation of communications infrastructure allowing multiple operators to use city lighting poles and public transit stops for base station locations.
Mass broadband access has underpinned the success of Moscow’s large-scale investment in an e-government platform (www.mos.ru). In 2015, 5.4 million Muscovites used the platform and made 12.8 million requests for city services each month by computer or smartphone. An electronic document management system covers the entire city government and is used by 58,000 users. A unified health management system allows patients to make appointments and communicate with medical staff, while providing clinics and hospitals with a single platform for data management. The system serves more than 7.7 million patients annually.
Collective Decision-Making, Reduced Congestion
One of the city’s proudest digital achievements is the VMESTE! System. It is an online platform that lets citizens make suggestions and propose solutions to problems, then conducts online votes to select the most promising ideas for implementation. Finally, it collects complaints about troubles with municipal services, which generate action and a public report.
In one example, VMESTE! launched an online discussion about issues with Moscow’s healthcare sector, and 60,000 Muscovites proposed more than 27,000 ideas, from medication e-vouchers to doctor appointments via smartphone. The online vote led to the selection of 150 citizen-proposed measures for implementation. They resulted in more convenient clinic schedules, an online appointment system, improved standards for service, an online platform for patient evaluation of the services received, and implementation of a medical information system to cut paperwork and better manage visitor flows. Patient evaluations of healthcare sector now rate 86% of appointments as satisfactory, and the innovations are on their way to saving the city more up to US$40 million per year.
Moscow also launched, in 2014, an Active Citizen project (ag.mos.ru), through which citizens choose streets and courtyards to be improved and parks to be refurbished. They vote on festival and celebration programs and propose their own development ideas. The platform provides an online map that displays all the changes that have resulted. The project has had more than 4.8 million participants, who have influenced literally millions of planning and maintenance decisions.
Moscow is famed for its traffic congestion, with overloaded roads and many kilometers of traffic jams. In addition to its effects on quality of life and productivity, traffic congestion represents an environmental hazard. Moscow’s solution was the opening of the Moscow Central Circle, a ground-level rail line that circles the city. The system opened 31 stations in September 2016 and began running 200 passenger trains along the 54 km route. Careful planning went into changing the routes and schedules of buses and trolleys to coordinate with the Central Circle trains, and launching a single ticketing system for the entire network. In the first week of operation, more than one million people became passengers and the load on the metro system was noticeably reduced. Just as important, the Central Circle line is already revitalizing old industrial zones on the periphery of the city and attracting new investment in residential areas, tech parks, shopping and office centers, which are expected to create over 40,000 jobs.
The administration of Mayor Sergey Sobyanin has invested large amounts of money and political capital in a vision for Moscow as an attractive location for knowledge-based businesses, a center for learning and a city where government exists to serve the people as efficiently and transparently as possible. Deploying digital technologies to serve those ends, Moscow is turning one of the world’s megacities into an Intelligent Community.
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