Sarnia is the largest city in Lambton County, which extends from the shores of Lake Huron in the north to the Lake St. Clair in the south. Nearly 60% of the county’s population is concentrated there, with the remaining 40% distributed across 2,800 square kilometers (695 sq mi) of the rest of the county. The sparsely populated county was, however, the site of North America’s first commercially drilled oil well. Petrochemical and refining industries are still its largest manufacturing and employment sector, and Sarnia-Lambton considers itself the center of the Great Lakes Industrial Corridor. The other mainstays of the economy are agriculture and tourism.
With this successful industrial base, Sarnia-Lambton focuses its development efforts on connecting the excluded to economic opportunity and spurring the innovation that can keep its industry strong.
The rural areas of the region have benefited from the long commitment of rural telecom operators, Brooke Telecom and Hay Communications, to their markets. Both companies continuously expand their fiber networks into rural residential markets. Brook Telecom is offering a 1 Gbps connection with unlimited usage for C$109.95 to villages of fewer than 1,500 residents as well as rural farms. Business customers in the Sarnia metro area are benefiting from a 2015 decision by BlueWater Power, a local power distribution company, to launch a fiber network division.
In July 2016, the provincial and federal governments announced initial funding for a plan to build an ultra-high-speed network serving 300 mainly rural communities in southwestern Ontario. The South-Western Integrated Fiber Technology (SWIFT) program will take 25 years to complete at a cost of C$5 billion. Lambton County has been an active driver of the program and has budgeted C$1 million as a contribution toward construction costs in its territory.
STEM Education for First Nations Youth
Lambton County is home to three First Nation communities, each with a fast-growing youth population. Two nonprofits have targeted middle-school children in these communities for science, technology, engineering and math education in partnership with the University of Waterloo. The partners present classroom workshops during the school year and operate a STEM day camp during the summer. For the past 10 years, about 75 university students have served as instructors, while members and elders of the First Nations serve as counselors, who integrate cultural experiences into the STEM teaching.
The library system of the county is bringing STEM practices of a different sort to its patrons with the opening of a Makerspace, equipped with laser cutter, vinyl cutter, 3D printer, book binder and a variety of robots for patrons to experiment with. A group of creative industry entrepreneurs have formed Makers Artists, Designers and Entrepreneurs (MADE) Lambton to help turn the interest engendered by the Makerspace into careers.
The county’s newest youth education project is the Sarnia-Lambton Youth Skills Connection program, established in 2016. YSC was launched by Lambton College in partnership with the County of Lambton, the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership, Bioindustrial Innovation Canada, the Sarnia-Lambton Industrial Alliance, the Ontario provincial government and over 20 local companies. The program provides training for youth aged 15 to 29 years, focusing on topics such as advanced manufacturing and 3D printing, web and app development, enterprise project management, business development, marketing and sales and advanced tools for crop harvesting and bio-process operations. Once youth clients have completed their training, YSC connects its graduates with industry and private companies for internships and pays for the first two months of every internship itself. Since its founding, the program has served over 150 participants and engaged more than 30 industry partners.
Innovating on an Agricultural Foundation
Sarnia-Lambton is home to the federally-funded Bioindustrial Innovation Canada, and the public-private Western Sarnia-Lambton Research Park, a joint venture among the county, the city and Western University. Each seeks to build on the region’s combined base of petrochemical, chemical and agriculture industries.
The latest project in this area is the Cellulosic Sugar Producers Cooperative. Farmers in the Cooperative have worked with federal and provincial agencies, Western University and private-sector companies to research opportunities and develop a business plan for converting agricultural waste into cellulosic sugars. There is a ready market for these sugars in making multiple products. In 2016, the Cooperative announced that it would partner with Comet Biorefining to build a commercial-scale plant at the TransAlta Energy Park in Sarnia-Lambton. Expected to begin operation in 2018, the plant will produce 27 million kilograms of destrose sugar syrup per year from corn stalks and wheat straw, and the Cooperative has signed agreements with a buyer to use the product in producing personal care products, plasticizers and polymers.
Building a Sustainable Energy Future
Alongside agricultural innovation, Sarnia-Lambton is focusing on renewable energy sources with the goal of eventually moving away from fossil-fuel-based feedstock. The county launched two initiatives to further this goal: the Sarnia-Lambton Bio-Hybrid & Chemistry Cluster and the Sarnia-Lambton Sustainable Energy Cluster. The Bio-Hybrid & Chemistry Cluster has attracted a number of bio-hybrid chemical companies to begin developing and testing their technologies in the county, leveraging Sarnia-Lambton’s prosperous soybean, wheat and sugar beet farms as ideal sources of crop and bio-mass raw materials for new bio-chemical technologies. The cluster has also worked with Lambton’s increasingly digital farming sector to supplant crude oil and petrochemical feedstocks. To provide state-of-the-art facilities for research in the area, Lambton College established a Center of Excellence in Energy & Bio-Industrial Technologies in 2015 and added a $12m expansion to those facilities in 2016.
In the Sustainable Energy Cluster’s first major success, Sarnia-Lambton became home to one of the largest solar projects in North America, the Enbridge/First Solar 80 MW solar farm in 2014. The county has also attracted two large wind energy projects: Suncor Energy’s Cedar Point Wind Power Project and NextEra Energy’s Jericho Energy Centre, which are currently in development. To further facilitate energy research, the county established the Lambton Energy Research Centre in 2016 as part of Lambton College’s Applied Research & Innovation umbrella. LERC is an R&D center that supports energy-focused SMEs with their technology development, validation and commercialization.
Reaching down to excluded communities and up to new technology applications for its heritage industries, Sarnia-Lambton is building an economy that serves not just its industrial center but the dispersed population of its rural areas through the power of broadband.
Smart21 2017 | 2018 | 2019
Bristol is the largest city in the southwest of England, with a population of about a half million. It has a modern economy built on the creative media, electronics and aerospace industries, and its city-center docks have been redeveloped as centers of heritage and culture.
Yet even such vibrant midsize cities have pockets of deprivation, where poverty, poor education and the social ills that go with them are handed down from one generation to the next. For Bristol, that pocket is the neighborhood of Knowle West. The closure of a major factory in the Nineties caused large-scale job losses and a third of residents today are classified as economically inactive.
Investing in a Better Future
To give the 12,000 residents of Knowle West a chance at a better future, Bristol’s Council has invested in digital-age programs that aim to transform life at the individual, family and community levels. Basic infrastructure is part of the mix. Bristol has developed the Filwood Green Business Park in Knowle West, which provides 76 units of “green” office and workshop space for small to midsized businesses, as well as shared office space for solo workers. It has expanded bus routes to better connect the neighborhood with the rest of Bristol, after surveys found that most residents needed to own a car to get to work.
As is typical of low-income areas, Knowle West is underserved with broadband, and carriers force local businesses to pay the capital cost of running high-speed lines to their premises. Bristol tapped a UK government program called the Connection Voucher Scheme to cover the cost for 1,500 local businesses, which has generated more than £2 million of digital infrastructure investment.
Training for Bristol’s Creative Economy
Digital investment of another kind has created the Knowle West Media Centre, where residents receive free skills development programs including digital manufacturing and business basics. A work-study program trains residents while having them work on social action projects that gives them work experience. After-school groups for children and young people teach digital literacy and creative skills, and supply leadership coaching for 18-25 year olds.
In the Junior Digital Producer program, young people who have been unemployed learn in-demand industry skills while delivering a community-based project. The Media Centre also has its own creative agency, Eight, where budding freelancers undertake paid commissions with the support of more experienced creatives. In its most recent year, users of the Media Centre produced nearly 500 pieces of furniture for the Filwood Green Business Park and created 8 businesses and community enterprises. Nearly 90% of participants in the Junior Digital Producer program go into paid work or self-employment.
The Bristol Approach
The Media Centre has also played a central role in social innovation. Beginning in 2016, it organized an effort by artists and designers in Bristol to help residents across the city identify issues they were passionate about tackling, a process that has been named “The Bristol Approach.” These ranged from damp problems in homes to the difficulty shopkeepers had in identifying customer flows. The organizers assembled diverse groups of residents, artists, technologists, makers and activities to explore the issues and pursue solutions. The “Dampbusters” group, for example, investigated the use of sensors in homes to gather relevant data and use it to gain local and national attention to the problem.
The Media Centre was also the channel for a European Union-funded project that led to creation of My Knowle West, a smartphone app that provides an online space for sharing stories, tips, images and inspiration, while increasing the confidence of users in smartphone and tablet technology.
In 2016, the Bristol Post newspaper reported that Knowle West was “the loneliest area of Bristol.” Surveys indicated that only 39% of the people of the neighborhood thought that people of different backgrounds could get along, compared with 61% city-wide. Attacking that social isolation – and the accompanying deprivations in health, education, income and employment – is Knowle West Together. It is a multi-agency group dedicated to improving quality of life in the neighborhood. Members include residents, charities, schools and social agencies. Since 2013, the group has organized community festivals that reached over 1,000 people, educated them on the social services available to them, and reinvigorated Knowle West’s primary retail center, Filwood Broadway.
The problems of neighborhoods like Knowle West are common everywhere, and the challenge to municipal leaders the same on every continent. Step by step, Bristol is changing the lives of the people of this neighborhood and offering them hope of integration into the growth economy of the 21st Century.
Keelung City borders New Taipei City on the south and the Pacific Ocean on the north. Once the 7th largest container port in the world, the city gradually lost its position due to the lack of land for expansion, rising foreign competition and the decline of the domestic coal industry, which peaked in 1968. But Keelung’s seafaring days were not behind it, thanks to the growth the passenger cruise industry. Today, 89% of inbound cruise ships dock at the Port of Keelung, bringing 690,000 passengers to Taiwan, who generate more than NTD 6 billion in revenue. The city’s future depends on how those passengers experience what locals call the Rainy Port.
Residents of Keelung City enjoy fixed broadband at 100 Mbps, reaching 90% of households. To support its tourist industry, it has established a gigabit free public Wi-Fi system in the Port of Keelung, offering users up and downloads at 30 Mbps through 1,100 hotspots. Riding on that network is the Seamless Travel Service, which provides a combined e-ticket to popular destinations, travel information and real-time schedules for the city’s extensive transit system as well as discounts at local stores and a mobile payment solution. A network of digital interactive billboards at tourist hotspots promote local attractions and let tourists search for more information. The result is what Keelong calls “the Smiling Port.”
Keelung also collaborates intensively with local businesses and universities to upgrade access to the cultural offerings of the city. It established a Creative Center, which offers an exhibition and conference center, hotel and restaurant.
More than a real estate project, the Center hosted its first design competition in 2016 to promote local cultural and creative products, and to introduce high school and university students to local companies. It holds frequent workshops with citizens and community groups to develop and test ideas for further revitalizing the city. One such project focuses on creating “small yet beautiful spaces” in neighborhoods that felt into disrepair during the previous period of economic decline. In 2014, thirteen renovation projects were proposed and completed.
Making Education Smarter
Keelung’s future as a tourist destination and creative city depend on a highly educated workforce. It has invested in a robust broadband infrastructure for its network of 60 schools, reaching 4 Gbps in 2015 on its way to 10 Gbps in the future. On this platform, it introduced a one-to-one tablet program for students and a “happy student card,” which generates data on learning outcomes and extracurricular activities not just within the school building but at local sports centers, public libraries and museums. The city and the National Taiwan University of Science established a 3D School for Makers, where students learn creative thinking and hands-on technical skills using the latest 3D printing and manufacturing technologies. The city’s goal is to establish a classroom for makers in every school.
Fighting Shipborne Pollution
Major ports around the world struggle to manage the air pollution produced by the massive diesel engines of cargo and passenger ships. The Port of Keelung established a coastal power system for docked ships that reduced polluting gases and particles by 96%. But sustainability is not just a business process in Keelung. The city has committed itself to low-carbon office operations and energy conservation across its facilities and transit system. That transit system itself drives sustainability by providing an attractive alternative to vehicles. Keelung City has the fifth lowest ownership of cars and motorcycles per capita in Taiwan.
Neighborhoods in the city compete for honors in carbon reduction and sustainability contests, and are honored for innovative sustainability projects. These range from the conversion of streetlights to LED and recycling programs to resident education and the renovation of abandoned telephone booths into rainwater installation art.
River Corridor Project
Keelung has much greater ambitions for the future. It signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Taichung, our 2013 Intelligent Community of the Year, to collaborate on smart city projects. Three regions in the city have been identified for development of an Array of Things to monitor environmental conditions. The city has established a smart healthcare platform for managing individual cases across multiple healthcare institutions. A major plan calls for redeveloping a stagnant warehouse district as the Keelung River Corridor, home to such emerging industries as marine biotechnology and residential neighborhoods. Under Mayor Lin Yu-chang, Keelung City is working hard to leverage its maritime past while creating vast new possibilities for the future.
Smart21 2017 | 2019
The County of Grey is a rich cultural center of Ontario with a long history of agriculture and bustling water trade. Located in "cottage country" with a population of 92,0000, the county is home to the Summerfolk Music and Crafts Festival and the Festival of Northern Lights, and the county seat of Owen Sound was even named the 2004 Cultural Capital of Canada. Like many rural areas, however, Grey County now struggles to hold onto its agricultural heritage and strength in an increasingly digital world.
The SWIFT Initiative
In a rural county with some community densities as low as four people per km2, broadband access is always a challenge. Grey County is one of the 15 counties in southwestern Ontario that make up the Western Ontario Wardens' Caucus, which has developed the SWIFT Initiative to address major gaps in broadband coverage and lack of fiber-optic connectivity. The SWIFT Initiative began in May 2011 as a discussion about the importance of broadband to the Southwestern Ontario economy and about what regional leaders could do to address the lack of modern Internet infrastructure throughout rural Ontario. The initiative is intended to direct funding from municipal, provincial and federal governments to address gaps in broadband infrastructure and to support increased market participation of local industries and businesses in the digital economy. Five years later, the governments of Canada and Ontario announced $180 million in combined funding for the initiative. This funding will also trigger more private investments from ISPs.
The Launch Pad
The Launch Pad Youth Activity and Technology Centre (Launch Pad YATC) in Grey County is a skills building center for youths aged 12 to 18 that first opened its doors in 2015. The center was created for Grey and Bruce County youth as a learning environment with access to technology, skill training in trades valuable to the local economy, as well as arts and recreation outside normal school hours. Since opening its doors, Launch Pad has gained 250 members and has become a popular regional success story. Demand continues to grow for its services, prompting a $200,000 renovation currently in progress that will convert part of the space into a regional trades and training facility to prepare the future workforce.
As Launch Pad’s success grows, economic developers, educators and community developers across the region are now looking to learn how its model can be replicated in other communities in the county and across rural Ontario. The center has received multiple awards since its founding, including a 2016 Ontario Economic Development Award from the Economic Developers Council of Ontario. Launch Pad YATC was also selected as the 2016 Municipal Information Systems Association (MISA) Ontario Conference Charity.
Uniting Past and Future with Digital Agriculture
Agriculture and the food industry are Grey County’s largest employers and contributors to the local GDP. As in many rural communities, however, the county’s producers are facing many challenges, from competition from lower-priced imports to ever-increasing land values. The Ag 4.0 initiative is Grey County’s answer: a project aimed at connecting agricultural producers with local technical and creative professionals to promote collaboration and innovation. The initiative also seeks to support the development of a generation of rural innovators among local youth, hoping to apply their skills as “digital natives” to the requirements of “digital agriculture.”
The Ag 4.0 initiative has sparked new working relationships - and renewed old ones - with many key stakeholders and champions of the issue, including the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Georgian College, the University of Guelph, Grey—Ag Services, and Grey County’s member municipalities. To formalize these collaborations, Grey County hosted its first Ag 4.0 Summit and Innovation Tour in November 2016, providing opportunities for producers to learn from agricultural innovators and connect with professionals from other related creative and technological fields.
Solving Rural Transportation with MOVIN’GB
Travel in Grey County is nearly impossible without a personal vehicle, with many areas offering little to no reliable public transportation. In April 2016, the county along with Home & Community Support Services launched the first phase of the MOVIN’GB pilot program. MOVIN’GB is a transportation program, a support service that provides rides to non-emergency medical appointments, shopping, banking, and various social activities and programs. The program aims to help seniors and those with disabilities find affordable transit in the Grey County municipalities of Owen Sound, Meaford, Blue Mountains and Grey Highlands. The MOVIN’GB pilot project helps both to decrease per-ride costs for passengers and to increase profitability for service providers, not to mention beginning to address the climate impacts of a transportation system based solely on private vehicles. If it proves successful, Grey County plans to expand the program’s service area to include other parts of Grey and Bruce Counties and also its eligibility to include youths and people without access to affordable transportation.
The future looks bright in Grey County as farmers step into the digital world with the help of their technically-skilled neighbors and local youths train to become the next generation of innovators.
Chiayi is a provincial city of 270,000 in southcentral Taiwan, midway between Taichung and Tainan. Ninety-five percent of its economy is in the services sector – wholesale and retail, transportation and warehousing, and accommodation and food – which employs three-quarters of the workforce.
In 2014, however, Chiayi was ranked as having the worst air quality in Taiwan, and Mayor Twu Shiing-jer, a physician, has dedicated his administration to improving life in the city in this and many other areas.
Cleaning the Air
Working with ASUS, the city has established a network of cloud-connected air-quality monitoring stations called the Air Box. The results of measurement are displayed in real time on LED billboards on main access roads. A public electric bike network, with 58 charging stations, is reducing automobile trips, while an environmental education program is reaching schools and community groups. In 2015, the city succeeded in reducing fine air particulate concentration by 12%, which represented the biggest gain in the nation.
Also in 2015, Chiayi City established the “Solar Photovoltaic Setup and Promotion Team” and the “Renewable Energy Committee.” The city’s location on the Tropic of Cancer makes it an ideal place for solar energy development, and the city has currently installed solar panels on the rooftops of 38 public buildings with 32 more expected to be outfitted by the end of 2017. The currently outfitted public buildings are capable of producing 3.6 megawatts of power annually and are expected to earn Chiayi NDT 77 million in revenue over the next 20 years.
Broadband, Open Data and E-Services
Chiayi government and private carriers have blanketed the city with 1,000 Wi-Fi hotspots, ranking second for density in the nation. Over an 18-month period, more than 1.5 million users accessed the network. To support adoption, it created a government-citizen committee to hold public hearings, seminars, online idea generation and voting on priorities and projects. At the urging of that committee, Chiayi also completed an open data platform in 2016, which contained 279 information entries as of August 2017, with many more on the way. The city has also established an E-Service Counter that provides single sign-on to more than 500 applications used by 210,000 subscribers.
To further spread E-Service access throughout the city, the Chiayi Transportation and Tourism Department is currently in the process of introducing intelligent bus stops with 4G WiFi services available on their buses. The city has also equipped its 59 neighborhood directors with tablet PCs connected to the city’s open data platform and E-Service applications, allowing them to function as mobile service stations for their neighborhoods. These directors can now help residents with information inquiries, online application usage and city surveillance reporting, among other services.
Innovating on Tradition
The city attracts more than 440,000 tourists every month, who contribute over NTD 1 billion every year through such events as the International Marching Band Festival (pictured above). Innovation in Chiayi has focused on finding ways to use its success in tourism to drive further growth in the economy. The city is home to Taiwan’s largest egg company, Chinyi Eggs, which ships nationwide. Recently, the company has transformed its Chiayi facilities into a “tourism factory.” The company already turns over more than NTD 1 billion but, with the help of government investment, is creating a new line of business opening up its processes to visitors.
Building on the success of the long-running International Marching Band Festival, Chiayi has also created a new event: the Chiayi Arts Festival. The festival stages performing arts in streets, parks, bookstores, schools and restaurants over a two-month period and features a mix of local performing artists as well as internationally known performers. In its first year, the Chiayi Arts Festival received national news coverage and generated NTD 30 million in economic impact.
Huashih Co. is a long-established firm that uses spices and herbal ingredients in the manufacture of cleaning and cosmetic products. It has collaborated with universities and the city to drive innovation in two directions. One is in the application of biotech R&D to identify local plants with useful commercial properties and extract their active ingredients to create new products. The second is the creation of another tourism factory, where visitors can see how products are created and manufactured and buy them from a retail outlet.
Chiayi City was known as “The City of Forest” during the Japanese colonial era, due to its flourishing wood industry. After operating for 50 years, the city’s local Shunyi Wood became De Lin Intl and set up a tourist factory called Wood Lover. The company cooperated with the Cycling & Health Tech Industry R&D Center to develop interactive entertainment services for the tourism factory. Through the partnership, De Lin Intl also set up sensors, gyroscopes, pressure sensors and temperature and humidity sensors in the woods to learn more about how visitors experienced the woods and what actions interested them to improve the quality of the factory tours.
Education and Training
Chiayi is also investing in the digital skills of its people. All schools have been equipped with Wi-Fi and a portal for student-teacher interaction and the sharing of lessons plans among instructors. Beginning in 2017, the schools will introduce specialized classes in coding, robotics and other technology fields. For the general population, the city has developed training courses in basic and advanced digital skills. For the business community, the city has invested in workshops on mobile payments and an Industrial Innovation Center focused on health R&D. As of 2015, over one hundred researchers and 18 enterprises were located there. The city is also driving collaboration between industry and the College of Management at National Chiayi University to develop training specific to the needs of local business.
To encourage youth training and development in particular, the Industrial Development and Investment Promotion Committee of Chiayi has worked with Wufeng University and the Chiayi Youth Entrepreneur Association to hold the National Youth Creative Application Competition. The competition includes high school and college-level student teams competing on creative projects designed to teach them business values. The government has also begun setting up co-working spaces to encourage young entrepreneurs to mingle and share ideas as well as find investors. Idle spaces are being renovated throughout the city to provide better co-working environments, including the “KY 3-27 Co-Working Space,” which is the first publicly operated co-working space in the Yunlin-Chiayi-Tainan region. The space provides training and consultations as well as courses in business registration, taxation, laws and related regulations and business planning.
Health technology is the city’s future, in the eyes of Mayor Twu. His administration has created a Community Home Medical Care and Palliative Care Network to address Taiwan’s aging population. There are now 5 hospitals and 33 clinics within the network, which aims to provide comprehensive care to the aged at home through a Smart Health Cloud Platform that already links in-home diagnostic equipment by 4G mobile to medical centers. The Public Health Department focuses primarily on delivering care in patients' homes, rather than expensive and limited hospital space, through the use of home diagnostic kits that monitor vital signs and general fitness as well as a network of 200-300 teams who provide home visits for postpartum care, hospice care, assessment of a home's fitness for care after a hospital visit and many other services. Data collected from home diagnostic kits and clinics is used to track specific and unusual health risks and to inform public health decisions.
Like Intelligent Communities everywhere, Chiayi City is applying digital technologies to leverage its economic and cultural strengths while preparing for a more competitive future in the global broadband economy.
Smart21 2017 | 2018 | 2019 | 2020
Top7 2017 | 2018
New York, Oct. 19 (CNA) Five cities and counties in Taiwan -- Chiayi, Keelung, Tainan and Taoyuan cities and Yilan County -- were named Wednesday among the world's Smart21 Communities of 2017 by the New York-based Intelligent Community Forum (ICF).
Also included were seven communities from Canada, four from Australia and one each from Kazakhstan, New Zealand, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.Read more
(19 October 2016 – New York City & Niagara Falls, ON, Canada) - The Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) today named the world’s Smart21 Communities of 2017. This select group of communities, which emerged from a group of nearly 400, will now move on and remain in contention for the prestigious designation of an Intelligent Community Top7, to be named in Taipei, Taiwan in February 2017. One of the seven will then be named Intelligent Community of the Year at the Intelligent Community Summit and Awards Dinner in New York on June 8, 2017. www.intelligentcommunity.org/summitRead more
“Internet of Cities” the theme of the New York think-tank’s annual Global Awards Program
(4 October 2016 – New York City) – The Intelligent Community Forum today released a special report, The Internet of Cities, which is the group’s thinking on the current evolution of the Intelligent Community movement and will be the theme of the 2017 Intelligent Community Awards program. http://www.intelligentcommunity.org/internet_of_cities
Rio is a city as famous for its natural beauty and Carnival spirit as for its crime-plagued slums. After the national capital moved to Brasilia, Rio lost economic clout to Sao Paulo, which became known as Brazil’s business hub while Rio gradually declined due to drugs, corruption and mismanagement. But ambition, good luck and better leadership have given the city a second chance. The city was one of 12 venues where the 2014 World Cup was played, and Rio also won the right to host the 2016 Summer Olympics. Preparation for these games turned the city into a construction site, but also gave it opportunities to revitalize itself, create a better transportation system and deal with long-standing infrastructure problems, including flooding.
Information and communications technology is at the heart of the transformation. A central Operations Center was built by IBM in the aftermath of disastrous flooding in 2010. It has become the nerve center for city administration by displaying data from thousands of cameras and sensors and giving emergency managers a comprehensive view of problems and the resources available to deal with them. The city also runs a high-capacity fiber network, Rio Digital, linking 70 universities, schools and research centers as well as city facilities. But more profound has been the use of ICT to expand economic opportunity and make government better. It has built Knowledge Squares in nearly 40 low-income, crime-ridden neighborhoods. These facilities offer classrooms, labs, digital libraries, recreation areas and a cinema, and provide young people and local communities with skills training in IT, robots, graphics, Web design and video production. The city has also built 32 Casa Rio Digital facilities in partnership with Cisco, Intel and the Sequoia Foundation, which have provided digital literacy training to 69,000 citizens.
How Information Improves Services
The Rio Datamine is an open-data system that makes available vast amounts of city information as well as powering a city-hosted RioApps contest. One RioApps winner was 26-year-old computer engineer Andre Ikeda, who used data on bus transit to create an app that put real-time scheduling information into rider’s hands. The publicity and access to information created public pressure that led to sharp improvements in service.
Luck has played its part. Rio is home to the national oil company Petrobras, and the discovery of vast offshore fields has given a significant boost to the economy. Rio is now receiving twice the foreign direct investment of Sao Paulo. By continuing to open its government and empower its citizens for the digital age, the city is striving create a future worthy of its nickname: Cidade Maravilhosa or the Marvelous City.
Smart21 2013 | 2014 | 2015
Porto Alegre is the capital city of an agrarian state. The community was a success story in heavy industry until rising costs in the Seventies drove industry to relocate to surrounding "satellite cities." To fill the employment gap, the community has focused on building a high-skilled service sector and “clean” industry clusters in IT and life sciences. It has been a “Greenfield” effort, in which government has labored to build digital infrastructure, create the skills and demand for it, and use it to develop a knowledge workforce.
A 350km fiber network called Infovia now connects 190 government buildings. It has generated direct savings on telecom costs for the city and serves as the backbone for a wireless network reaching 93 schools and 100 healthcare facilities. It has also gained its first corporate customers in an industrial park, where broadband helped attract 12 new tenants in 2 years. Porto Alegre has provided over 3,000 low-income residents with free digital skills training, with special accommodations for the elderly and disabled. Using the network, clinics in low-income areas offer remote ultrasound examinations of pregnant women. It has reduced the waiting time for an exam from 4 months to 34 days, and women are now four times less likely to miss a scheduled appointment, because it takes place close to home.
Smart21 2009 | 2010