Community that developed its own broadband network and is launching development programs on this foundation.
A wireless network being built by Earthlink with public backing is making possible 300 Kbps free service to low-income citizens, supported by programs offering affordable PCs, training, support and online services, while paying users receive higher levels of service.
San Diego occupies a blessed corner of the United States. With a Mediterranean climate, the city is a tourist destination that drew 32 million visitors in 2012. It hosts the largest naval fleet in the world in its deepwater port, which in turn has attracted major national defense contractors as employers. Bordering on Mexico, San Diego is also the busiest international crossing point in the world and handles the third-highest volume of trade among all US-Mexico land crossings.
This combination has given San Diego an unusually diversified economy, in which defense, tourism, international trade, R&D and manufacturing are the largest sectors. Maintaining its competitive position and quality of life in a fast-changing world, however, is a significant challenge. City government is attacking that challenge on multiple fronts.
In 2015, San Diego was named a Google Fiber city and began working with Google on a detailed study of regulatory, geographic and other factors that will affect deployment. Google Fiber projects require cities to eliminate permitting and regulatory barriers and to allow Google control over where and when service is deployed.
While it waits for its fiber future to take shape, the city is focusing on quality of life factors that will shape its potential. California Career Pathways is a collaborative project uniting 14 school districts and 5 community colleges in the region. Funded by a California state grant in 2015, the program covers from kindergarten through community college and develops career pathways into the region’s growth sectors, from advanced manufacturing and clean energy to information and communications technology. It aims to integrate academic and career-based learning and bridge the distance from education to work.
The San Diego Public Libraries are also investing in a broadband-enabled future that helps drive an innovation economy. The system is engaged in a significant upgrade of online capacity to 100 Mbps at each facility. More importantly, it offers a makerspace, open to the public, providing 3D printers and process tools including vinyl cutters, laser cutters, milling machines and sewing machines. Using this combination of connectivity and hardware, the library has delivered 150 free technology programs to more than 5,000 attendees in the past year, and hosted special events including a Coding Camp, Startup Weekend, Maker Meetups and Robot Days serving hundreds to thousands of citizens.
Challenges to Sustainability
A prolonged drought has brought Californians face-to-face with climate change and the need to manage a more challenging environment. San Diego has responded by making sustainability a social and cultural priority. The city is home to Balboa Park, the largest cultural urban park in the United States and site of the famed San Diego Zoo. A sustainability program launched in 2008 uses the park to conduct sustainability education and engage local arts and cultural organizations in decisions about its future. The city has also achieved US$1.75 million in annual savings and reduced water use by 1.5 million gallons through sustainability investments in the park.
With water becoming more precious by the year, the city embarked on a reuse program called Pure Water San Diego in 2013. City leaders had learned from unsuccessful pilot projects in the past, which were doomed to failure by headlines about “toilet to tap” water. For its new effort, the city developed a comprehensive communications plan and conducted extensive community outreach in person, online and by mail. By the time the Pure Water demonstration project was launched, a poll found that 73% of San Diegans favored water purification to produce a new drinking water supply. A city blessed by circumstance is now finding ways to leverage the skills and passions of its citizens to build an economically and environmentally sustainable future.
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.
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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.