At the end of the last century, Riverside was a bedroom community and university town, agricultural center and warehouse hub in the desert 60 miles from Los Angeles. It also had a large population of poor and poorly educated residents and a signal failure to retain many of the 55,000 graduates leaving its institutions of higher learning.
A High Tech Taskforce
In 2004, the mayor and a community college dean convened a High Tech Taskforce to figure out how to channel some of California's high-tech growth into their community. It became the Riverside Technology CEO Forum, which led a multi-sector effort to change the city's destiny. The city built a fiber network to connect its operations as well as the University Research Park. A free WiFi network now offers up to 1 Mbps service through 1,600 access points, and exploding demand has led multiple commercial carriers to deploy high-speed broadband across the city. Riding the network is an array of award-winning e-government applications, from dynamic traffic management to graffiti tracking and removal.
Riverside has also worked to leverage its universities in multiple ways. College 311, a Web-based hub for educational social and community services, aims to double the number of Riverside youth who complete college. Targeting five knowledge-intensive industries, Riverside and its partners have launched innovation efforts from a highly-acclaimed virtual secondary school to an Innovation Center offering incubation space, business acceleration and interaction with angel and venture investors. These efforts have already attracted 35 high-tech companies and established 20 tech start-ups.
In 2006, Riverside started a digital inclusion program called SmartRiverside, using its free WiFi network, to provide technology training, free computers and software to all of the city's low-income families. Making it happen is Project Bridge, which provides recycled IT equipment to 1,500 new families each year. The equipment is refurbished by reformed gang members, who learn valuable skills; Project Bridge is southern California's largest recycler of e-waste, and the project is funded by eBay sale of excess equipment. From the streets to the research lab, Riverside is ready for the digital age.
In the News
Read the latest updates about Riverside.
Labor Force: 160,700
Intelligent Community of the Year 2012
Smart21 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012
Top7 2011 | 2012
America’s first capital, Philadelphia is still the nation’s fifth largest city, but far from its most prosperous. Like other old industrial cities, it suffered decades of decline as automation and globalization eliminated low-skilled employment. Today, 51% of jobs in Philadelphia require a university degree but only 22% of Philadelphians possess one. Though it is home to dozens of universities and thriving service businesses, the city has a poverty rate of almost 27%. When he took office in 2008, Mayor Michael Nutter pledged to double the percentage of young people who attended university. Since then, city government has marshaled local and national resources in an effort to break the cycle of low achievement and economic exclusion.
Nearly half of Philadelphians lack Internet access at home. Having identified broadband as an essential utility in its master plan, the city assembled a coalition of health, social service and community development organizations called the Freedom Rings Partnership. The group successfully applied for broadband stimulus funding, which has been applied to the development of 77 KEYSPOTS digital inclusion centers in low-income neighborhoods. Each provides access to technology, digital skills education and training in such essentials as job interviewing and keeping a job. Together, they have served 165,000 participants, with an impact that often reaches far beyond basic digital literacy. Other public and private investment has gone into redevelopment of the Navy Yard into a green industries park and America’s largest urban solar farm, as well as early development of a learning management system for the public schools. For Philadelphia, the payoff from these programs will be an increase in the percentage of its citizens that participate in the city’s economic success.
Smart21 2006 | 2013
Northeast Ohio is an 18-county region bordering on one of America's Great Lakes to the north and including the major metropolitan center of Cleveland and the cities of Akron, Canton and Youngstown. To Americans of a certain age, the names of those cities tell the tale of the Industrial Age. This region was one of America's great trade and manufacturing centers, a key link in the national transportation system, home to steel companies and the place where Standard Oil founder John D. Rockefeller made his fortune. Following the Second World War, however, it fell into seemingly unstoppable decline, particularly in the core urban areas, as US manufacturing lost competitiveness in a global market. Amidst rising unemployment, eroding institutions, population loss and racial unrest, the tremendous wealth created in the industrial era was no longer invested in creating new businesses and industries, nor in education and the development of social capital. In 1978, Cleveland became the first US city to default on its creditors since the Great Depression and, in 2004 and 2006, was named America's poorest big city.
Yet the region retained hidden strengths: world-class health facilities, a vibrant arts culture, three major professional sports teams and respected institutions of higher learning, including Case Western Reserve University and Oberlin College. Another major asset was buried in a literal sense. During the 1990s, the telecom industry built out more than $4 trillion of fiber-optic communications systems worldwide. In most cases, these circuits followed the traditional transportation corridors such as rail lines and highways, which meant that Northeast Ohio found itself once again at the hub of a high-capacity transportation network.
In 2002, Case Western named as its new chief information officer a visionary named Lev Gonick. With global technology and community development experience on his resume, he soon began outlining a revolutionary idea. He believed that the region's nonprofit institutions could spearhead development of a common community network that would not only save them money and expand capacity but foster a wide range of innovation collaborations. The vision impressed many regional leaders, notable among them Cleveland Mayor Jane Campbell. Case Western and the city assembled a core group of institutions including NorTech (an economic development organization focused on technology), Cuyahoga Community College, Cleveland State University, the county library system, the local Public Broadcasting System (PBS) affiliate, and Cleveland's transit authority and school district. These were the founding members of a public-private partnership they called OneCleveland, which was eventually renamed OneCommunity. Under the leadership of its president Scot Rourke, OneCommunity forged partnerships with the region's telephone and cable carriers, under which the carriers donated unused fiber-optic circuits to OneCommunity and OneCommunity contracted for last-mile fiber and VPN services from the carriers.
To make the deal, OneCommunity had to overcome resistance to the creation of what carriers at first viewed as a new competitor. Fortunately, Rourke and his team came from the venture capital industry, which allowed them to talk the language of business plans and return on investment. It also ensured OneCommunity began life with a sustainable business model. Eventually, they persuaded all parties of OneCommunity's essential value: by helping the public and nonprofit sectors become better users of IT and telecom services, OneCommunity would save them money while simultaneously boosting demand across the region. And boost demand it did. Lev Gonick reports that, prior to OneCommunity, Case Western was using about 40 megabits per second of capacity for all of its operations. Within a few years of joining the OneCommunity network, average demand had risen to 400 Mbps. Since start-up, the OneCommunity network has expanded to connect more than 1,500 schools, libraries, governments, hospitals and universities. Its OneClassroom content and digital asset management system connects these users to world-class content from the Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland Orchestra, PBS and other sources. In 2006-07, the network hosted an 18-month program called Voices & Choices, which engaged tens of thousands of area leaders in Web-enabled "town meetings" in order to educate people about the challenges facing the regional economy and obtain their input. Voices & Choices has led to a regional economic development plan called Advance Northeast Ohio, which focuses on business growth and attraction, talent development, inclusion and government collaboration for greater efficiency.
OneCommunity would be impressive just as a story of network deployment - but it would not have achieved the potential that its creators envisioned. Because OneCommunity's Board is made up of the leading governmental and nonprofit institutions of the region, it became the hub of intensive collaboration. Today, the work of tech-based economic development agency NorTech, for example, is complemented by Team NEO, a joint venture of the largest metro chambers of commerce, which works to attract business investment in targeted sectors. Another nonprofit, JumpStart, provides venture capital to start-up companies with high growth potential. In 2006, it tied for ninth among the 100 most active investors making first-time investments in start-up or early-stage companies, according to Entrepreneur magazine, up from 61st place in 2005. Meanwhile, private investor Morgenthaler Ventures, founded in Cleveland with offices in Silicon Valley's Menlo Park, tied for 11th most active on the Entrepreneur list.
BioEnterprise is another nonprofit partnership, founded by The Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, Case Western and Summa Health Systems. It supports business formation, recruitment and acceleration for emerging medical device, biotechnology and health care service firms. Since its founding in 2002, it has created, recruited or accelerated more than 60 companies, helped them attract more than $565 million in funding, and concluded over 225 technology transfer deals with industry partners.
Rebuilding an Entrepreneurial Culture
In November, OneCommunity announced that it would share with the Northeast Ohio Regional Health Information Organization (NEO RHIO) an $11.2 million grant from the US Federal Communications Commission to develop a regional broadband health care network. The network will connect 19 rural hospitals and numerous clinics in 22 counties to over 30 existing hospitals already on the OneCommunity network. The project will enable NEO RHIO and its collaborating medical providers to deliver telemedicine, records access, medical imaging and remote diagnostic services to improve community health care. At the same time, it creates the opportunity for the region to become a center of excellence in the emerging business of electronic patient records management.
The efforts of OneCommunity and its partners are all directed to the same goal: rebuilding the business, political and social culture of entrepreneurship that created the region's Industrial Age prosperity. In the Broadband Economy, that takes a different set of assets and skills, from broadband to partnerships to digital literacy. It also takes long-term investment in human and social capital. But the partners are betting that same spirit that drove the region's earlier success can create a sustainable and inclusive economy in the 21st Century.
Labor Force: 2,125,400
Smart21 2008 | 2011
Small farming community with aggressive re-generation program.
Like rural cities around the world, Mitchell has been shaped by the productivity revolution in agriculture. Over the past 80 years, automation has transformed farming from a labor-intensive business to a capital-intensive one employing a tiny percentage of the workforce. The six counties surrounding Mitchell have lost one-third of their population since 1930. The most talented and ambitious are inevitably the first to go.
Vision 2000 and Mitchell Technical Institute
Mitchell began to plan a different future in the late 1980s. A strategic plan called Vision 2000 called for a community-wide emphasis on education, healthcare, infrastructure and recreation. It led to the merger of two hospitals, creating a unified healthcare system that became the city’s biggest employer, and the construction of new schools that partnered with the local university and recreation center to advance educational excellence. Investments in city infrastructure were funded by an increase in the local sales tax.
It was during this period that the local community college, the Mitchell Technical Institute (MTI), began to assume a unique leadership role. MTI and a consulting company, Martin and Associates, developed a plan to create a municipal telephone company to bring advanced services to the city. Put to a vote, the plan was defeated due to concerns about cost fed by the opposition of incumbent providers. But MTI was undeterred. It developed a technology center to serve students and the community, which soon became a collocation facility for communications providers. Through a Federal grant, MTI upgraded it into a Network Operations Center meeting strict industry and government security standards, and the NOC began to host more and more networks including university connections to Internet II. This evidence of demand persuaded regional carriers to expand broadband service, culminating in a 2005 decision by Santel Communications to build a fiber-to-the-premise network.
Investing in the Next Generation
Telecommunications development has created another economy on top of Mitchell’s agricultural one. It consists of engineering, consulting and software companies that have made Mitchell into a regional hub for expertise and services. The city and its institutions have responded by deepening their support for the digital economy. The school system has introduced a 1-to-1 laptop and tablet program for middle and secondary school students, and is piloting mass customized learning.
MTI has invested $40 million in a new technology-based campus, where it trains hundreds of communications and data technicians, while Dakota Wesleyan University has created centers for entrepreneurship and health sciences. A local angel investors network has sprung up and begun incubating new communications startups. So successful has the new economy become that it is attracting new office industries including healthcare support companies Alleviant and Avera Health Systems. Mitchell is responding by partnering with recruitment companies to attract talent from across America to the city. Rather than seeing its population decline, Mitchell has become a Midwest magnet for ICT talent.
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Read the latest updates about Mitchell.
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Mitchell was featured in the Intelligent Community Forum book Brain Gain.
Smart21 2013 | 2014 | 2015
Marlborough is the birthplace of Horatio Alger, Jr., the quintessentially American author whose 19th Century books described poor boys who rose from humble backgrounds to middle-class security through hard work, courage and honesty. The city of 38,000 achieved success in that century only to see its industrial base erode in the late 20th Century – before it was rescued by the construction of major highway networks including the Massachusetts Turnpike and Interstate 495.
These made Marlborough an attractive location for the information technology industry that sprang up around Boston in the Eighties and Nineties. Both Digital Equipment and Hewlett Packard established large corporate campuses in the city, which continues to attract high-tech companies like SanDisk and Cavium, biotech leaders like GE Healthcare Life Sciences and Boston Scientific, and manufacturing giants like Raytheon and Dow Chemical. In 2015, the city had an unemployment rate of 3.7%, down sharply from 2012 and a full point lower than the state average. Over that three-year period, Marlborough gained 6,000 jobs, of which 5,000 resulted from inward investment.
The city is working now to solidify its success. It has partnered with two other school districts to create the Massachusetts Advanced Pathways Program. Using a US$1.8 million grant from the state, it works with state and local employers, educators and nonprofits to design career pathways that meet labor market demands and link rigorous academics with career-focused learning. The program focuses on healthcare and technology. Launched in 2014-15, it has so far enabled 10 STEM-based summer internships and enrolled nearly two dozen students in computer science, engineering and biotech programs.
Health Care and Sustainability
The public library system provides access to computers and connectivity for patrons and, in a two-month sample period, hosted over 8,000 user sessions. An Alert Portal system keeps thousands of resident up to date by text, email and phone messages on community activities, weather emergencies and transportation issues. The city has also worked closely with local charitable foundations and the Marlborough Hospital to create a $12.7 million state of the art cancer facility, which opened in 2013. The design process made heavy use of 3D computer models to give hospital staff input to the layout of patient rooms, handling of medical waste and walking distance to treatment rooms.
City residents, business leaders and government have also rallied around a Sustainability Action Plan. It calls for environmental education, energy efficiency and the tracking of energy use and waste in the public school system. A partnership with the utility National Grid provides the expertise, and volunteers provide fund-raising, staffing and leadership of the ongoing effort. While Horatio Alger’s characters depended on their own resources, Marlborough in the 20th Century has engaged the entire community in ensuring a prosperous and sustainable future.
A small city east of Los Angeles, Loma Linda established an advanced broadband standard for new construction and pooled public and private investment to deploy a network that has attracted businesses and boosted both retail sales and home values in the community.
Dubuque is a city of middle America, surrounded by farmland, with a central business district beside the Mississippi River. And in recent decades, it has received the brunt of the brutal economic changes brought by automation and ICT productivity gains. In the 80s, its largest employer laid off half of its workforce in Dubuque. This, together with the decline of family farming, drove unemployment to 23%, the highest in the nation, in succeeding years.
In response, the Mayor and City Council led a broad-based effort to forge a new vision for the city’s future. The result was Sustainable Dubuque, a commitment to create a prosperous, livable and equitable community. The vision spawned multiple efforts. One is a set of smart city projects covering water use, electricity use and public transit. Working with IBM, the city installed sensors, connectivity and software to analyze performance and provide data to users. Starting with 300 homes, the smart water system is now available citywide and is credited with a 7% reduction in water use and an eightfold gain in the detection and fixing of leaks. It has also reduced water treatment costs by $65,000 and increased water revenues by nearly $185,000. The smart travel program tracks 1,500 riders and uses the data to set policies that have produced a 28% increase in ridership over 4 years.
Putting Dubuque to Work
Dubuque Works is a workforce program that unites government, business and educators to enhance the city’s human capital, conduct joint research to develop evidence-based recommendations, and provide outreach to guide area students from school to work. Over the past four years, the program has created more than 5,000 jobs and Dubuque, with just 3% of the state’s population, has been responsible for 10% of the state’s job growth. These different initiatives have attracted more than $37 million in Federal and state grants, which the city has used to stimulate additional workforce development and sustainability efforts. Dubuque’s revival is a work in progress but its early successes create confidence in a more prosperous, equitable and sustainable future.
In the United States, the financial crisis of 2008 gave rise to plunging property values, massive government deficits on the national and state levels and an anguished round of budget-cutting. Which makes all the more remarkable the steady, long-term approach of the small city of Dublin, Ohio USA.
Most American cities and towns fund themselves on property and sales taxes, but Dublin has a local income tax. It provides a dependable stream of revenue that allows the city to maintain ample cash reserves and plan for the long term. Dublin also has a successful track record at using its income tax receipts as collateral for what is called tax-increment financing. This has helped make possible a virtuous cycle in which savvy investments by the city attract investments by business that create high-quality employment. With a population of 41,000, Dublin has a labor force today of 70,000, drawn to the city from throughout the Columbus metropolitan area.
Much of this investment in in physical infrastructure Twenty-five percent of the 2% income tax is dedicated to capital improvements, which have included the Emerald Parkway, the Dublin Commmunity Recreation Center, and a planned 1,300 Innovation Park, a next-generation technology business campus that aims to unite the community’s strengths in ICT, research and development. Government services are also well-funded; all three secondary schools in the city were named to Newsweek magazine’s 2010 list of top schools in the country.
But one form of infrastructure stands out in Dublin, and has become a connecting thread that unifies and powers its other economic and social assets. They call it DubLink.
Following telecommunications deregulation in 1996, Dublin began installing a network of underground conduit to encourage deployment of broadband by private carriers. A public-private partnership with the Fishel Company soon followed, and by 2003, Dublin had built and lit the DubLink fiber network to connect city facilities and replace telephone company service. Dublin's contribution to the project came from those tax-increment financing bonds, funded by future increases in tax revenue that would result from the improvements being financed.
In managing the network, the city drew a bright line between public and private use. The city delivers no services except for governmental use, and leases either conduit space or its own dark fiber to carriers serving the local market. It is an "open access" strategy that has proven successful in communities as diverse as Stockholm, Sweden (2009 Intelligent Community of the Year) and Loma Linda, California (2007 Smart21 Community).
As Dublin installed more and more fiber in its conduits, it began doing capacity-sharing deals other public and public-private entities. DubLink now interconnects with Columbus FiberNet, which reaches the state capital and four other cities in the metro area. It partners with the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC), carrying some of the traffic on OSC's 1,600-mile fiber backbone. In return, the OSC and Dublin joined forces to create the Central Ohio Research Network (CORN), a fiber infrastructure connecting governments, schools and businesses to Ohio colleges, universities, research institutes and Federal labs. Other fiber transport partnerships include Central Ohio Broadband, linking with other cities that have developed fiber networks, and agreements with two carrier hotels in Columbus to exchange traffic in return for giving DubLink customers connection to global carriers. A Dublin nonprofit, the Online Computer Library Center, was granted two fibers on the DubLink network, and uses them to help provide research services to nearly 70,000 libraries in 112 countries.
This “invisible infrastructure” has had major positive impacts on the community. CORN allows schools, businesses and institutions to explore experimental networking technologies through Internet2, where the next generation of commercial networking technologies is taking shape. An annual Ohio Supercomputer Center project uses videoconferencing to bring together thousands of elementary and secondary school students for an all-day learning conference. DubLink is used to deliver robust e-government services, from online registration for classes, tax filing and permits to remote attendance at City Council meetings. The city also partners with state government to promote OhioMeansJobs, a career Web site currently hosting 8 million resumes and hundreds of job openings.
Dublin developed a city-center WiFi network, which uses DubLink as its backbone. It has now budgeted for expansion to cover the entire city. In this public-private venture, Dublin contributes its infrastructure (network and hotspots on city property) and a private company, HighSpeedAir, provides services. The city uses the network for mobile computing by its first responders and field staff, fleet monitoring of snow plows and other city vehicles, and video monitoring of traffic. It is also used to support city-sponsored cultural events, like the Dublin Irish Festival weekends and the Jack Nicklaus' PGA Memorial Tournament. And HighSpeedAir markets access to small businesses through corporate buildings and office parks.
The city also views WiFi as a way to reduce digital exclusion. To support widespread, affordable connectivity, Dublin provides free computer training to adults and seniors through its recreation centers.
It takes more than information transport, however, to build a competitive economy. Dublin is a partner of TechColumbus, a regional nonprofit whose mission is to accelerate the growth of the innovation economy through business plan counseling, market assessment and help in gaining access to capital. More than 60 Dublin companies have benefited to date. The $625,000 that the city invested in TechColumbus in 2009 has already yielded $14.6 million in investment, debt financing and new revenue.
The city's Dublin Entrepreneurial Center (DEC) opened in 2009 with one start-up tenant and now houses nearly 50 companies and support organizations, including the Center for Innovative Food Technology and the Ohio Fuel Cell Coalition. It hosts twice-monthly co-working events, where Dublin's business community participates in training and meets the community's newest entrepreneurial class. Inspired by its participation in ICF’s programs, the city is also establishing a Center for Global Business Development at DEC to provide collaboration, education and support for Dublin companies seeking to do business overseas.
This ongoing effort to support and strengthen entrepreneurship helps explain why there are 3,000 companies in Dublin, with an average of just seven employees each, while the city is also home to multinational corporations such as Wendy’s International and Ashland. Innovative young companies include Neoprobe, which develops biomedical devices to improve cancer surgery outcomes; EnergyGateway, which offers energy management services to commercial customers and was recently acquired by WorldEnergy; Sypherlink, whose software automates data-sharing across the enterprise; and Cardiox, which sells detection systems for the prevention of strokes.
Healthcare has been a particular beneficiary of Dublin’s high level of connectivity and the anchoring presence of Cardinal Health, a Fortune 17 provider of healthcare management services. OhioHealth, a nonprofit network of hospitals and healthcare facilities, uses DubLink and partner networks to connect five major hospitals, billing centers and its corporate headquarters across Central Ohio Three years ago, OhioHealth opened Dublin Methodist Hospital, the first new nonprofit hospital in the region in two decades, which has been named one of the “Most Wired” hospitals in America by Hospitals and Health Networks magazine every year since then.
The hospital has deployed technology to create a completely digital, wireless and near-paperless environment that better serves patients while increasing productivity. A comprehensive electronic medical records system provides access to physicians and clinicians both inside and outside the hospital. Fingerprint authorization protects drugs in the pharmacy system from abuse, and a barcode scanning system checks all medications to make sure that the correct drug is being used at the correct dosage. RFID tags keep track of all equipment in the hospital, which reduces losses to theft. Staff and physicians use a wireless system to locate and communicate with each other, saving countless hours, while mobile camera carts can be deployed to provide continuous video monitoring of patients anywhere in the facility.
Workforce of the Future
In 2008, Dublin began a major focus on workforce issues. The city benefits from proximity to Columbus, the state capital, with its many colleges and universities. Eighty percent of residents have a bachelor’s or graduate degree. But Dublin’s leaders understand the vital importance of creating a workforce that meets the specific needs of its major employers and fast-growing entrepreneurial companies.
The city began by hosting a series of education and business roundtables, which led to an annual Business-Education Summit on Workforce Development, now in its third year. Among other results, the effort led to a partnership between the state-sponsored BioOhio program and Dublin’s Tolles Technical & Career Center for the creation of a biotechnology program, and another between the city and the Columbus State Center for Workforce Development to bring targeted training programs to the city.
The old adage says that “slow and steady wins the race.” Through good and bad economic times, Dublin has shown remarkable steadiness in assembling the key elements of 21st Century economic growth. Slow, however, does not appear to be a word in the Dublin vocabulary.
In the News
Read the latest updates about Dublin.
Want to know more about Dublin?
Dublin was featured in the Intelligent Community Forum book Seizing Our Destiny.
Labor Force: 70,000
Smart21 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011
Top7 2010 | 2011
Forty years ago, Danville was the economic powerhouse of south-central Virginia. But the demise of tobacco farming and textile manufacturing kicked the props out from under the local economy. By the start of the 21st Century, the community had a 15% unemployment rate and a workforce whose limited education was a poor preparation for careers in the broadband economy. But like many small rural cities, Danville owned its own electric utility, which deployed a fiber network throughout the city to better control its operations. It was a small next step to connect city facilities and schools, and add a WiFi overlay for public safety and law enforcement. In 2007, the city decided to open the network, branded nDanville, to private ISPs that would deliver service to businesses and residents.
Having achieved breakeven, nDanville is beginning construction of a fiber-to-the-home network to greatly expand the broadband capacity available to residents. But it has already made its mark in economic development terms. An historic textile mill, long abandoned, is now undergoing renovation as a Tier 3 data center, for which the nDanville network proved the dealmaker. And such projects are not taking place in a vacuum. The public school system offers a full array of educational technology, from smart boards to iPads, and learning labs in technologies such as robotics and CADD. The Galileo Magnet High School offers instruction focused on technology careers for high-performing students. While 73% of public school students are on a free or reduced lunch program – a standard measure of poverty – the same percentage of high school graduates in 2011 pursued college degrees. Danville has also collaborated with the celebrated Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University to create an Institute for Advanced Learning and Research that delivers an innovative STEM curriculum to grades K-12. This wide ranging effort is spurring local entrepreneurship and has convinced companies like US Green Energy and Ecomnets, which produces low-energy computers, to open new facilities and continue to accelerate Danville's new economic momentum. See "Danville Transforms Its Economy With Fiber" by Andrew Cohill, Broadband Communities.
Smart21 2010 | 2011 | 2012