Jean-Francois Barsoum, Canadian Leader of Smarter Cities, Water and Transportation at IBM, joined Lou Zacharilla for this discussion. Since joining IBM, he has provided strategy advice to a diverse set of clients: financial institutions, higher education, professional associations, pharmaceutical companies and telecoms. Jean-Francois has also been invited to speak at conferences on the subjects of innovation, smarter transportation and climate change on four continents.
In 2015, ICF added a sixth criteria to its list of the Intelligent Community Indicators. It is a focus on environmental sustainability.
Improving current living standards, while maintaining the ability of future generations to do the same, is at the core of sustainability. Throughout human history, economic growth has always involved the consumption of more resources and the production of more waste. As humanity begins to push up against the limits of the ecosystem to provide resources and absorb waste, we need to find ways to continue growth – with all of its positive impacts on the community – while reducing the environmental impact of that growth.
Why Sustainability Matters
When Intelligent Communities commit their economies to a sustainable future, they seek to improve local quality of life, from cleaner air and water to improved public transportation and greater livability.
Communities that use fewer resources to create products and provide services are also more efficient and productive, which is key to continued improvements in their standard of living. As the world turns its attention to reining in human impact on the planet that supports us, sustainablity will generate substantial new opportunities for technology advance, business growth and employment in green industries.
Communities that make environmental sustainability a shared goal typically engage organizations, community groups and neighborhoods in advocating sustainability programs and activities. These contribute to civic pride, local identity and shared goals.
For all these reasons, a commitment to environmental sustainability protects the Intelligent Community's future, expands their economic opportunities, and helps create a culture of innovative collaboration that powers success.
There is now conclusive evidence that a community seeking to provide its people with a long, healthy life and meaningful days does not necessarily need more broadband but more alcohol and good sidewalks. It also would benefit from fewer conveniences in the home and the elimination of the word “retirement” from the culture. In fact, what National Geographic Fellow and TEDMED superstar Dan Buettner (pictured right) refers to as “de-convenienced homes,” as well as a concept which the Japanese refer to as ikigai, are major contributing factors to the shockingly long lives with which the people in Okinawa, Japan are blessed. A few drinks each day, a walking lifestyle and Ikigai (which translates roughly into “that which makes life worth living”) are among the criteria at the heart of what Buettner and a group of extraordinary researchers discovered as the real secrets to the long lives people experience in place as diverse as Okinawa, Sardinia and, yes, 2007 Smart21 Intelligent Community Loma Linda, California. After seeing Buettner’s recent appearance on HBO and rereading some of his work, I am surprised that Loma Linda did not make it to the top of the ICF’s Awards that year!Read more