Calgary is a western city of 900,000 people that is one of the fastest-growing communities in Canada. Best known as a center of the Canadian oil industry and for its annual “Stampede” celebration of its cowboy heritage, Calgary also has a significant telecommunications and wireless manufacturing base, and over 1,300 software companies with expertise in geomatics and image processing. It has more miles of optical fiber than any city in Canada, according to the Yankee Group, and broadband Internet is accessible to 99% of residences. In the ten years between 1988 to 1998, technology employment tripled to over 9% of the labor force, and technology employers include IBM, EDS, AT&T, Vertitas, Shaw Communications, Nortel Networks and TELUS.
Leading the charge to build a Digital Age economy for the community is the public-private corporation, Calgary Technologies. Its projects include Calgary INFOPORT, which has succeeded in building a local information and communications technology industry; the Calgary Innovation Center, which acts as a catalyst between life sciences innovators and the venture capital community; and the Alastair Ross Technology Center incubator. In 2001, Calgary Technologies launched the ConnectCalgary project, using matching funds from the Canadian Government’s Smart Community award program. ConnectCalgary is creating online services and Web portals, public access computer terminals, and a team of trained facilitators to work with government agencies and individuals at risk. ConnectCalgary aims to provide the at-risk population of Calgary with access to the social, health and educational services they need to become more independent and productive members of the community. With this latest program, Calgary has demonstrated leadership in closing the Digital Divide in western Canada.
In the News
Read the latest updates about Calgary.
Intelligent Community of the Year 2002 (co-honoree)
ICF welcomes the city of Sunderland to the Top Seven for an unprecedented fourth time this year. The largest city in the Northeast of England, Sunderland has quite literally risen from the ashes of the Industrial Age to create a globally competitive city prospering in the Broadband Economy. This transformation was due to neither luck nor location, but to visionary leadership, good planning and unrelenting commitment.
In the 1980s, this former shipbuilding and mining center on the North Sea, which at one time launched more ships than any other port in Europe, had a peak unemployment rate of 22%. As the last shipyard closed in 1988 and the last coal mine followed in 1994, Sunderland fell into the bottom 10% of Britain's "depressed districts." The legacy of heavy industry was a large unemployed group of low-skilled workers, many with chronic health problems. With so little local opportunity, young people fled the city, leaving behind a shrinking and aging population.
Sunderland's government responded in a way that would become a much-copied strategy for success. In 1991, it organized a volunteer group called the Sunderland Partnership, comprised of members from government, local universities, the chamber of commerce and citizen leaders representing important constituencies. The Partnership developed a vision for a new economy based on what Europeans called "telematics" - the union of telecommunications and computers. While City Council staff labored to translate this vision into measurable goals and meaningful programs, the Partnership focused on politics. Members educated their organizations and constituents about the crisis into which Sunderland had fallen, the challenges to recovery, and their vision for the future. This was to prove essential to Sunderland's success, because it created the political will and integration needed to embrace change.
The Telematics Strategy was published in 1996 to cover a 5-year period through 2001. It included training programs in call center and other Digital Age skills for the unemployed, public-access Internet kiosks and "electronic village halls" with Internet access, business incubation programs and an initial, government-funded high-speed network for a metropolitan area possessing no more than basic telephone infrastructure.
Meanwhile, the economic development staff succeeded in persuading a real estate developer to build the first speculative building of what is now Doxford International, an award-winning office park. During the 1990s, it filled and expanded, filled again and expanded again as the European headquarters of Nike and Verisign, and home to such companies as Barclays, CitiFinancial, EDF Energy and T-Mobile. These companies were attracted by the high-quality facilities in a city with attractive wage costs, a strong incentive program, and the availability of freshly-trained labor. The same team won public-sector funding from the national government and European Commission and invested it in rebuilding the derelict waterfront into a new home for the University of Sunderland, a former technical institute that had gained university status in 1992.
By 2000, Sunderland had created 9,000 new jobs. A second Telematics strategy, covering the 1999-2003 period, focused on using ICT to promote social inclusion and ensure that everyone benefited from the city's transformation into an Intelligent Community. It set new goals, including development of a publicly-owned ISP and e-government hub called the Sunderland Host, expansion of the high-speed network to businesses and community centers, and creation of a one-stop Sunderland Portal for citizens, business and government users. There was no let-up, however, in economic development efforts. In 2002, EDS opened its first data center in the North of England in Sunderland. During the three years from 2002 to 2004, Sunderland secured 72% of the new jobs entering the region, despite having just 11% of the North's population.
The latest plan, called The Sunderland Strategy (2004-07) has focused on exploiting the city's global connectivity and growing knowledge workforce to attract even more inward investment and encourage the formation and growth of small and midsize companies. For the past five years, the number of net new jobs has increased 4.87% compared with the UK average of 3.17%. Sunderland has also seen a measurable improvement in the quality of those jobs, with growth primarily in financial and customer services that offer good pay and prospects for advancement. From 2004 to 2005, gross weekly pay in Sunderland rose at three times the national average, and the average salary for full-time employees is almost double the national minimum wage.
Sunderland's transformation from industrial has-been to Intelligent Community illustrates the power of making many separate elements work in concert. For example, the city's activism about deploying broadband, and willingness to create joint ventures where necessary to reduce risks to the private sector, convinced carriers including NTL-Telewest, BT and Tiscali to provide broadband at competitive costs for speeds up to 10 Mbps. Broadband penetration has leaped from 25% two years ago to 75% today. The City Council has taken advantage of this connectivity to create an e-government portal that delivers a wide range of services to about 30,000 visitors per month. Broadband is also the medium for a Virtual Learning Environment created by the City of Sunderland College that is used by more than 20,000 students for training in information technology.
The "electronic village halls" created by the first Telematics Strategy are being expanded into multi-agency centers, which provide healthcare, housing, welfare rights, police, job-finder and other services as well youth and sports facilities. Video-conferencing links people using the centers to support staff. These are supplemented by kiosks distributed throughout the city. Sunderland has also identified and trained Community e-Champions to broaden digital inclusion at the neighborhood level, as part of a "peoplefirst" strategy that also equips social service workers with wireless PDAs from which they can instantly check databases and record service requests.
Following on the success of Doxford International, Sunderland has attracted major investment in technology office parks and incubators. The Business & Innovation Center at the Sunderland Science Park offers 200,00 sq. ft. (18,580 m2)of high-tech workspace housing 165 companies employing 1,100 people. The Rainton Bridge Business Park currently houses 150,000 sq. ft. (13,935 m2) of incubators and technology facilities and will become the site of a 400,000 sq. ft. development by Northern Rock that will put the site on course to exceed the original target of 4,000 new jobs.
The University of Sunderland, with 250 full time R&D staff, has become an innovation hub that makes business formation a priority. A Digital Media Center created with support from Sony is the most advanced facility of its kind in the UK, with 50,000 sq. ft. (4,645 m2) of film, TV and radio studios, and includes an incubation space for students setting up their own businesses. A New Ventures project facilitates the spin-out of new businesses from University research, while the University continues to expand incubator facilities and develop venture financing in collaboration with government and the private sector. A recent survey revealed that 10% of Sunderland's labor force is now self-employed - inspired perhaps by the success of local entrepreneurs like Paul Callaghan, who founded Leighton Group at the Business & Innovation Center in 1997. It is now a global business serving customers including British Airways, Lloyds TSB and Microsoft.
So successful have been its efforts to develop a knowledge-based economy that Sunderland has begun branding itself as the "Software City." It is remarkable to think that, in a single generation, the people of Sunderland have moved from slag heaps, slums and stagnation into a future built on turning knowledge into prosperity.
Labor Force: 126,100
Top7 2002 | 2004 | 2005 | 2007
Manchester is the hub of a Greater Manchester urban area of some 2.6 million people. It has a vibrant economy where, according to The Times of London, 60 international banks and 80 of the UK's top 100 companies have offices. In 2002, it hosted the 2002 Commonwealth Games, the world's second largest sporting event, and the Sportscity development created for the Games has become a valued asset.
But it is also a city of sharp contrasts. The district of East Manchester – once the hub of Britain's world-leading cotton industry – was decimated by the recessions of the 1970s and 1980s. It suffered a 60% employment loss between 1975 and 1985, when 52% of households were receiving state benefits. In 1998, two of East Manchester's electoral districts were among the top twenty on the UK government's National Index of Deprivation. As the rest of the metropolitan area has risen to the challenges of the Broadband Economy, the failure of East Manchester has become more glaring. But it has also planted the seeds of hope for regeneration.
The Eastserve Project
New East Manchester Limited is a partnership between Manchester City Council, national government agencies and the local community. It is responsible for developing and implementing a strategy to revitalize East Manchester's economy, increase employment, improve education and create more and higher-quality housing. One of its projects, Eastserve, is recognized by ICF for deploying an IT-based solution that addresses these goals while strengthening the social bonds of the community.
At first glance, Eastserve is a Web portal (www.eastserve.com), little different from government or neighborhood sites in thousands of communities. What sets it apart is the way in which it was implemented and the skills of the developers in meeting so many different goals.
Begun in 2000, the Eastserve project began by surveying residents on their needs for information and their ability to access it. Residents identified four priorities: employment and training, housing, policing and street-based services. As a result, the portal design included a virtual police station with anonymous crime reporting, a home-finder system for public housing, and online job searches and resume preparation system, among many other features.
The surveys also revealed that only 19% of residents had access to a computer. In response, Eastserve tapped a UK Government program that distributed recycled computers in deprived areas in order to launch a 2001 pilot project involving 450 households. Each household received a recycled PC or set-top box at a subsidized price, plus free dial-up Internet access for the first three months. The project also placed PCs at public access locations including police stations, housing offices and youth clubs. The pilot was successful enough to lead to a second phase that targeted 4,500 households to receive new or recycled computers, added new content to the Web portal, tied the project into IT training programs for schools funded by the e-Learning Foundation, and tackled the problems of financial exclusion.
Firing On All Cylinders
In Phase Two, Eastserve began firing on all cylinders, thanks to the down-to-earth advice offered by a Residents Panel of volunteers and volunteer Project Board. With 25% of East Manchester residents lacking any access to broadband, the project created a wireless Eastserve Broadband network that now links 1,700 households, six community centers and 14 schools and is being extended to adjoining neighborhoods. Its work with residents convinced Eastserve that they rapidly outgrew the capabilities of recycled PCs and set-top TV systems. In response, it began offering new fully-configured PCs at a higher price (£200) compared with £50 for a recycled system. Uptake was so strong that the cost of the subsidies made it necessary to scale the pilot back to 3,500 households. All residents who purchased the subsidized systems were required to attend a three-hour training course at local community centers, online centers or the local college. Eastserve also took the opportunity created by the sale of systems to involve the East Manchester Credit Union in handling all cash for the program and offering low-interest loans to residents. The loans made it possible for many more people to participate and also connected many of them for the first time to a financial institution other than loan sharks or check-cashing services.
This small-scale success is likely to set a pattern for greater progress in the future. According to Eastserve's leadership, the project has helped Manchester's City Council to understand both the potential of technology-based economic development and the need to invest in creating demand for e-government programs. With strong support from governmental leaders, the future of East Manchester looks brighter than it has in years.
Smart21 2006 | 2009
Glasgow, Scotland was a leader in Britain’s Industrial Revolution and, before the World Wars, one of the richest cities in Europe. But in the post-war years, the city suffered the intense decline common to many former industrial centers, as industries from shipbuilding and mining to heavy manufacturing lost their competitiveness. In the 1980s, this city of over 600,000 people began a transformation of its economy to stress services, culture and tourism, backed by large-scale government investment in redevelopment.
Environment for E-Commerce
Steady progress was made, yet by 1996, Glasgow still suffered a 16.8% unemployment rate. Then in 1998, the British Government published a Competitiveness White Paper that set out a commitment to make the UK “the best environment in the world for e-commerce.” Based on this framework, Scottish Enterprise, a regional agency, engaged a wide range of stakeholders in this transformation and, through consultation, set specific goals for Scottish progress in becoming an e-commerce hub. The goals included ensuring that, by 2002, at least half of Scottish small and midsize enterprises would have Internet connections and one-third would be engaged in e-commerce; and that 20% of all new business start-ups would be e-commerce companies by the spring of 2001. The Scottish Executive has since established two major programs to help meet these goals. Digital Scotland aims to ensure that Scotland obtains and retains maximum economic and social advantage from ICT, while a Knowledge Economy Task Force is charged with ensuring the development of a broad-based knowledge economy for Scotland.
60% Decrease in Unemployment
Glasgow has become a natural focal point for these national and regional policy initiatives. Telecommunications are 100% digital and highly competitive, with costs among the lowest in Europe. Glasgow will be one of the first European cities to go live with 3G wireless service, and British Telecom has chosen Glasgow as the location for its Data Hosting facility, the largest in the UK. Huge investment is being made in the city by both public and private sectors, including a £300m program to develop 2m square feet of new office space in the financial services district that will accommodate 20,000 jobs, and new high-speed broadband infrastructure. By 2000, the unemployment rate had dropped to 6.9% of the working age population, a 60% improvement that matched Scotland’s average and was only slightly above the UK average of 5.6%. Work on Glasgow’s transformation continues, focusing on accelerating business uptake of technology, promoting the growth of e-commerce support industries, and injecting e-commerce into Scottish education and training.
Intelligent Community of the Year 2004
In the 1990s, the leaders of the city of Dundee looked back on two decades of economic devastation and vowed that the future would be different. In the 19th and early 20th Centuries, Dundee had been a flourishing city known throughout Britain for trading, whaling, textiles, food manufacturing and shipbuilding. Deindustrialization took hold with a vengeance, however, in the mid 1970s. Large-scale plant closures threw thousands out of work and caused an out-migration of skills and talent. Resulting union militancy did little to improve conditions but made national headlines that reinforced Dundee's reputation as a city in terminal decline. Population losses hit the retail sector hard, discouraged inward investment, and sharply eroded quality of life.
In 1991, local government created The Dundee Partnership, a joint venture among key players including city government, the economic development agency Scottish Enterprise, universities, community groups, and the business sector. Its original focus was on the traditional tools of economic development: rebuilding the city center, developing tourist and leisure facilities and attracting corporate investment. But as the 20th Century gave way to the 21st, it became clear that more was needed. For the first time in decades, the city was experiencing net job growth, despite a continuing fall in manufacturing employment and levels of unemployment that remained well above the national average. Research revealed that Dundee's university sector - including the University of Dundee, University of Abertay Dundee, the Ninewells teaching hospital and Scottish Crop Research Institute - was driving job creation, not only in established sectors like publishing and scientific research, but in such new fields as software, animation, computer games, film and television.
Focus on New Sectors
In response, the Partnership refocused its effort on stimulating business formation in the new sectors. A government-funded Business Gateway project began providing e-business training and support to small and midsize companies, helping to improve the e-readiness of nearly 600 companies in 2004 and 2005. Moving in synch, Dundee's universities established graduate business incubators and policies promoting the spin-out of new companies. The University of Abertay Dundee opened the IC CAVE research center to support the computer game and digital entertainment sector. A £20 million (US$40m) Digital Media Park entered into development and, by 2007, opened its first phase, consisting of 100,000 sq. feet (9290 m2) of space for e-businesses. Two new marketing partnerships, bringing together public, private and academic leaders, launched Web sites, e-newsletters and conferences promoting "BioDundee" to attract life science companies and "Interactive Tayside" to the digital media sector. Several Scottish investment programs support these efforts, including Proof of Concept, which funds pre-commercial research, and SMART/SPUR, which issues grants to small-to-midsize businesses to develop innovative and commercially viable products and processes.
By 2007, the life sciences sector employed 3,900 people including 300 scientists from across the world. Wyeth Pharmaceuticals announced that it would locate the world's first translational medical research center in the city. Meanwhile, over 380 digital media businesses have opened or moved into the Tayside region, compared with 150 in 2000. They employ more than 3,000 people and generate over £100 million (US$198m) in annual sales.
Dundee has also taken digital technology to the people. The City Council's Web site began offering online payment and processes to the public in 2002 and by 2007 had collected £25 million (US$50m) in taxes and fees. With more than 60 online applications, the Web site is used by 32% of Dundee's population and received satisfactory rankings from 86% of users. In 2006 alone, it processed 60,000 transactions and collected over £8 million ($16m).
Behind the "public face" of the Web, Dundee developed a comprehensive approach to its digital relationship with citizens. It established a Citizen Account database system that captured data on citizens (with their permission) and used it to pre-fill online forms. Some of the data was amassed through issuance of the Dundee Discovery Card, which replaced 10 separate card-related services in the city, for everything from bus service and parking to social services. The Discovery Card was the first example in Scotland of a university (Abertay) and City Council sharing a single card for their different purposes. One of the outstanding benefits of the Discovery Card, in the eyes of the City Council, is that it eliminates the social stigma attached to social services cards for low-income residents. So popular has it become - with 44,000 cards issued, used by 87% of 12-18 year olds for school meals and bus travel, and 85% of +60 year olds for leisure access and bus travel - that the Scottish Government decided to deploy a multi-application card for the whole country and asked Dundee to run the program.
Digital Savvy and Community Service
This combination of digital savvy with community service is typical of Dundee. Broadband is commercially available to 100% of households, businesses and institutions in Dundee, with 48% of households and 90% of businesses currently connected. Speeds of up to 10 Mbps are available for £13-30 (US$25-60) per month. But the city also operates 300 PCs with free Internet access at locations including 12 learning centers for adults, generating 15,000 user sessions per month. At least one free-access terminal is located within 2 miles of every household in the city. A network of 350 networked bus stops provides real-time travel information to digital signs and kiosks onsite as well as to mobile phones. A professor at the University of Abertay has founded ADD Knowledge in partnership with government agencies to deliver Scotland's first home-study program for over 400,000 primary school children using next-generation video game consoles. Meanwhile, local health services use text messaging to remind patients about appointments and medications, and Dundee is proposing to become a test bed for Scotland's Project XYZ, which aims to create a WiMax network across major cities.
Dundee has come a long way since the dark days of the mid-1990s. From 2000 to 2004, the city had net employment growth of 3.4%. That average number encompassed the loss of 3,300 manufacturing jobs, a 20% growth in digital media, and 50-60% growth in life sciences jobs. New business starts rose 7% during the period and unemployment dropped, though it remains over a full percentage point higher than the average for Scotland. In 2007, the Partnership created a new group called the Digital Observatory. Its goal: to closely track Dundee's development as an Intelligent Community and provide leaders with the information they need to keep their community on the path to prosperity.
Labor Force: 80,000
Smart21 2007 | 2008 | 2010
Top7 2007 | 2008 | 2010
The city of Stockholm stands on fourteen islands on Sweden's south-central east coast. According to legend, the city's name tells you how it was born: as a fortress made of logs ("stock") on an island (“holm”) guarding the entrance to lake Mälaren. Stockholm has been Sweden´s political, cultural and economic center since the 1200s.
Sweden has charted its own economic and political course throughout the 20th Century. Stockholm was spared the destruction of two world wars and saw its economy boom in the post-war years, when Sweden instituted very high levels of social spending that consumed almost 50% of GDP in taxes. The bursting of a real estate bubble in the early Nineties caused a severe economic crisis, in which employment fell 10% and a run on the currency forced the Central Bank to briefly raise interest rates as high as 500% in an unsuccessful effort to defend a fixed exchange rate. In 1994, with a budget deficit exceeding 15% of GDP, the national government instituted multiple reforms and slashed spending to put its financial house in order. The result was to strike a new and apparently sustainable balance between cradle-to-grave social benefits for citizens and strong economic growth based on knowledge, creativity and innovation.
One out of every eleven Swedes lives in Stockholm, and in the first decade of the new century, their city has continued to find way to make "big" work better. The economy benefits enormously from Stockholm's status as the political and cultural capital. Most of the country's head offices and one in three foreign-owned companies are located there. Nearly one in three new Swedish companies is located in the county of which Stockholm is the capital. Education levels are high (51% of Stockholmers have studied at university levels compared with 35% nationwide) and average salaries are proportionally higher. By law, Swedish cities must deal with everything from childcare to the burial of a person, though in practice, much of the work is outsourced to private companies. The City of Stockholm is one of Sweden's biggest employers, with 42,000 employees (one for every 19 citizens) and a budget of 37.4 billion kronor (3.9bn Euros or US$4.6bn). Its efficiency and effectiveness inevitably go a long way toward determining the economic competitiveness of the city.
The Stokab Model
During the early Nineties crisis, the City of Stockholm decided to pursue an unusual model in telecommunications. The city-owned company Stokab started in 1994 to build a fiber-optic network throughout the municipality as a level playing field for all operators. Stokab dug up the streets once to install conduit and run fiber, closed them up, and began offering dark fiber capacity to carriers for less than it would cost them to install it themselves. Today, the 1.2 million kilometer (720,000-mile) network has more than 90 operators and 450 enterprises as primary customers and is now in the final year of a three-year project to bring fiber to 100% of public housing, which is expected to add 95,000 households to the network. Stockholm's Mayor has set a goal of connecting 90% of all households to fiber by 2012.
As an information utility, the Stokab network has become an engine for driving efficiency in every aspect of government. The City's Web site hosts a huge range of applications through which citizens can request and receive service online, from applying for social housing for the elderly to a schools portal that facilitates collaboration among students, teachers, school administrators and parents or guardians. Over 95% of renters use the housing department's portal to find apartments, and the library portal provides online access to the content of 44 individual libraries. After pilot projects in 2005, the city has also instituted a contact center to handle inquiries and complaints from offline citizens and to support users of e-services. There is a special telephone line for the elderly to call.
Much of the efficiency gain happens inside the walls of government offices. Stockholm uses a Web-based tool to manage its operations at all levels from the Municipal Assembly to schools and housing for the elderly. The system aims to automate routine administrative tasks, such as accounts payable and applying for vacation time, and encourage collaboration across agencies. Citizens can follow City Council meetings through Internet video, Internet radio and broadcast radio, as well as having online access to the minutes and documents of each meeting. The city is investing about 650 million kronor (59m Euros or US$72.2m) in developing the various services and in using IT to reduce operating costs and improve citizen services. To prevent redundant investments, Stockholm has introduced a coordination program through which agencies apply for funding for e-service projects from a central office.
In 2007, the City of Stockholm published Vision 2030, identifying the key characteristics the city aimed to have by that year. In 2030, according to the plan, Stockholm would be a world-class metropolis offering a rich urban living experience, the center of an internationally competitive innovation region, and a place where citizens enjoyed a broad range of high-quality, cost-effective social services. All employees of the city receive online training three times per year on the goals of the program and the changing nature of their responsibilities. The city also uses Web-based tools to track progress toward its goals and publishes good examples on the city-wide intranet to inspire others.
For over a century, Sweden has been an export economy. Timber, iron ore and hydropower remain important exports but 50% of Sweden's output now comes from its engineering sector, including telecom, automobiles and pharmaceuticals. These are the industries in which Stockholm leads. The big pharmaceutical company AstraZenica manages its global life sciences research in the Stockholm region. ABB, a global leader in automation and robotics, has R&D facilities in nearby Vasteras (a 2006 Smart21 Community). Ericsson, one of the biggest names in network equipment and related services, does most of its R&D in Stockholm's Kista Science City.
Kista got its start in the mid-Seventies as a mixed-use satellite city combining workplaces and apartments. Several companies including Ericsson and IBM placed factories or facilities there, and small to mid-size companies began locating there to gain access to them. In 1985, the City of Stockholm decided that Kista needed more active management and brought together stakeholders, companies and universities in a non-profit foundation to encourage knowledge transfer. This motivated several research institutes to start operations there, including a branch of the Royal Institute of Technology and the computer-science school of the University of Stockholm. As the ICT cluster gained momentum, Stockholm created the Kista Science City Company and the Stockholm Innovation and Growth (STING) incubator. Today, about 31,000 people work in Kista Science City, which houses 1,400 different companies of all sizes. WIRED Magazine, in a review of technology clusters around the world, ranked Kista second, beaten only by Silicon Valley.
In addition to Kista, Stockholm economic development efforts focus on its life sciences cluster, ranked third in Europe, and on its clean tech industry, consisting of 2,700 companies with annual export growth of 16%.
City government is a significant customer for clean tech, currently investing 1.7 billion kronor (160m Euros or US$207m) in energy-efficiency equipment. This has been characteristic of Stockholm since the mid-1990s. City government believes in making big investments of money, resources and time in the economy and society without neglecting the need to make sure that "big" continues to get better. On February 23, 2009 the City of Stockholm was appointed the first Green Capital of Europe by the European Commission. Stockholm was appointed for its holistic vision that combines growth with sustainable development and includes the ambitious target of becoming independent of fossil fuels by 2050.
In the News
Read the latest updates about Stockholm.
Labor Force: 442,500
Intelligent Community of the Year 2009
The Eindhoven Region, south of Amsterdam, is a very successful place. Officially designated in Dutch as Samenverkingsverband Regio Eindhoven (SRE), the region has long been the industrial center of Holland, with 730,000 inhabitants and a workforce of 400,000. Its major cities are Eindhoven (pop. 212,000), Helmond (88,000) and Veldhoven (43,000).
Eindhoven generates €24 billion of GDP and €55 billion in exports, one-quarter of the Dutch total. It absorbs 36% of all private Dutch R&D spending and is home to globally recognized companies including Philips, the healthcare, lighting and consumer product giant, and ASML, maker of photolithography equipment for the production of silicon chips. Eighteen percent of all Dutch automotive jobs are in Eindhoven, and nine percent of all life technology employment. The Eindhoven University of Technology, with more than 7,000 students, is considered one of the top three research universities in Europe. The High Tech Campus Eindhoven founded by Philips houses over 80 companies employing another 7,000 residents.
Yet the region faces major challenges, and its ability to rise to them will determine whether its success can continue.
Eindhoven is a manufacturing center in a high-cost country. By focusing on producing high-value, technology-based products, it is in competition with fast-growing manufacturing centers in nations with much lower costs. Many are striving mightily to perfect the complex manufacturing capabilities that have made Eindhoven successful, which creates unceasing pressure for the region to boost productivity. Foreign competitors are also seeking to raise their own game in R&D and knowledge creation, and Eindhoven, which generates 50% of all Dutch patents, needs to stay ahead of the curve.
At the same time, however, Eindhoven is saddled with Europe’s demographics, in which a low birth rate and aging population is reducing the regional labor force. To win the battle for the talent that provides its competitive advantage, the region must make itself economically and socially attractive to knowledge workers from around the world.
The Brainport Model
Eindhoven’s answer to these challenges is a public-private partnership called Brainport Development (www.brainport.nl). Its members include employers, research institutes, the Chamber of Commerce, the SRE, leading universities and the governments of the region’s three largest cities. A small professional staff meets regularly with stakeholders to identify their strengths, needs and objectives, then looks for opportunities for them to collaborate on business, social or cultural goals. Any stakeholder of Brainport has the opportunity to create new initiatives or partner with other stakeholders. Their work is based on a strategic plan called Brainport Navigator 2013 (with a 2020 version in the works funded in part by the Dutch government). It calls for focusing on five key areas for development: life technologies, automotive, high-tech systems, design and food & nutrition.
It sounds simple enough, and little different from strategies and collaboration groups at work in cities and regions around the globe. It could even be derided as a “talking shop” in which endless meetings take the place of action. But that would be a mistake.
Take healthcare. The region already has about 825 businesses active in the health sector, which employ 17,000 people. To drive further growth, Brainport created a project called Brainport Health Innovation (BHI). Its goals are to foster increased well-being for the elderly and chronically ill, to reduce healthcare costs and increase productivity, and to do so while generating economic opportunities for the region.
The total cost of regional healthcare is forecast to rise from €17bn now to €25bn by 2020, in large part because of the need for 100,000 new healthcare workers to meet demand. BHI’s conservative goal is to improve productivity by 1 percent per year, which would reduce demand for new personnel by 25,000 and save about €750 million. Meanwhile, BHI’s work expects to generate 150 new companies employing at least 10,000 people. It is a conscious effort to reduce employment demand in one area in order to increase it in another, where the region as a whole can benefit more.
BHI has involved hospitals, insurance companies, technology manufacturers local government and individual patients to design and implement realistic technology solutions that offer a profitable operating model. In the works are the Living Lab eHealth project, in which aging people test new services and products introduced by the BHI participants, including remote monitoring and diagnosis over broadband.
A Care Circles project aims to more efficiently share capacity among providers for home care of the elderly and disabled. The longer such patients can be cared for at home, the happier they generally are and the lower the costs of their care. The nighttime hours represent the biggest challenge to home care. Through Care Circles, all calls go to a central dispatch, which matches the location to the partner organization closes to the patient. The result is better quality and availability of care at a lower total cost.
Track Record in Collaboration
Some partnering, some pre-commercial testing, some cost-sharing – at first glance, the BHI projects sound worthy but hardly enough to light up the night. But that is the Brainport method. Bring together the players from business, government, institutions and citizens groups. Figure out specific projects on which they can cooperate for clear mutual benefit. Then manage the projects carefully until they produce results and gain the ability to become self-sustaining.
The range of Brainport projects is extraordinarily wide. The Automative Technology Center involves 125 organizations in collaborative projects that, from 2005 to 2008, generated €4.5m in new investment. The start-up of new high-tech systems and ICT companies is stimulated by incubators with names like Catalyst, Beta II and the Device Process Building.
Design Connection Brainport manages a wide range of projects in design and technology, in order to encourage the industrial design expertise that is as essential as information technology to all of the SRE’s industrial clusters.
Paradigit is a systems integrator founded in a university dormitory that built a fast-growing business producing build-to-order PCs and name-brand systems. Through membership in Brainport, the company identified an opportunity that turned into a program called SKOOL. This program pro-vides over 800 Dutch primary schools with a combination of hardware and software that vastly simplifies the integration of information technology into education. Students receive SKOOL laptops from Paradigit. When students start up the laptops for the first time, the systems automatically connect to the SKOOL server, download all of the applications specified for that school and configure themselves. SKOOL provides remote management of all servers and PCs at its client schools, as well as an online interface for students and teachers to communicate and share content securely. So "bullet-proof" are the hardware and software that SKOOL's technical support department consists of just three people.
The Taskforce Technology, Education and Employment program (abbreviated TTOA in Dutch) focuses on promoting the interest of young people in engineering, attracting foreign knowledge workers, career counseling and lifelong learning. A project called Technific has created an award-winning game called Medical Investigators, in which the student is an investigator accused of committing a crime. His goal is to prove his innocence by collecting evidence throughout the game using an electron microscope, infrared equipment and DNA testing. Each completed experiment helps the students advance to the next level. Another 1,500 kids take part in BrainTrigger, in which they work with local companies to develop innovative solutions in the fields of sustainability, mobility, safety and health.
Responding to Crisis
As the financial crisis gripped the region, TTOA funded research projects for more than 2,000 workers who faced layoffs in order to preserve their skills until the economy recovered. An additional €670,000 went to retraining personnel within businesses. A Dutch entrepreneurs organization identified Helmond, the SRE’s second largest city, as offering the Netherland’s best response to economic crisis.
TTOA also goes on the road to international career fairs in the US, Europe, Turkey, India and China to promote opportunities in the Eindhoven region. Its Expatguideholland.com Web site provides information and services to smooth the path of highly-skilled immigrants and their families.
Information and communications technologies are also brought to bear on creating a quality of life that attracts and retains the digitally literate. Digital City Eindhoven attracts a half-million visitors monthly to a Web-based social media tool that encourages residents to learn more about the region. A WMO Portal involves 20 organizations in answering resident questions on health care, social services and housing. Bestuuronline puts political meetings in the city of Eindhoven online, while Virtual Helmond involves residents of that city in decision-making about planning, building designs and street furniture.
An online game called SenseOfTheCity allows anyone with a GPS-equipped mobile phone to create a personal map of the city and identify what they like best and least. A 12-day festival called STRP, which attracts 225,000 visitors, features music, film, live performances, interactive art, light art and robotics. GLOW is another festival that celebrates Eindhoven's history as home to the Phillips lighting division. The center of the city of Eindhoven is transformed for 10 days into an open-air museum of design in light, much of it interactive, for 65,000 visitors.
The Enabling Infrastructure
The most long-standing innovation projects of Brainport and the SRE concern broadband. From 1999 to 2005, the Dutch government funded a pilot program called Kenniswijk (“Knowledge City”) to subsidize installation of fiber to the home. The program ended after connecting 15,000 homes, but it was followed by a classic Brainport project: Be-linked, which brought together companies, institutions, social organizations, governments and residents to promote broadband deployment and applications. Over the ensuing years, it has stimulated a remarkable range of activity.
A commercial provider, Reggefiber, has aggressively expanded in municipalities where at least 40% of residents commit to taking service. It is now serving more than 230,000 households. Eight industrial parks, backed by loan guarantees from the city of Eindhoven, have installed their own fiber networks. The City of Eindhoven has offered its 100+ schools service on a fiber network at low fixed costs, as well as help in using it streamline management processes and improve teaching outcomes.
A nonprofit Eindhoven Fiber eXchange Foundation, established by the city of Eindhoven and the Eindhoven University of Technology, interconnects service providers throughout the region to let them make the most efficient use of assets. Its members include a broadband consortium of 21 social organizations, which share their own networks through the exchange. In 2010, eight of the region’s 21 municipalities set up a €2.4m fund to create a virtual regional network made up of interconnected service providers.
In the small village of Neunen, two residents succesfullly lobbied the Dutch government to capitalize deployment of a fiber network, called OnsNet, which achieved a 97% penetration within 3 months of start-up. That remarkable goal was achieved through a cooperative ownership model. Property owners were asked to pay for the "last-mile" connection from the core network into their buildings. The case for citizens to put their own money into operating the coop was simple: they were investing in a home improvement that would increase the value of their property.
The citizens of Nuenen own 95% of OnsNet and join technical and operational executives at meetings to identify new ideas and solve current problems. And the pace of innovation has been unceasing. An online exercise and weight-loss program, with a "virtual fitness coach," is popular. A "Window on Nuenen" channel provides access to video cameras strategically positioned around town, which allows the housebound elderly to stay connected to the life of the community. The OnsNet community TV service trains locals in the use of video equipment and makes it simple to upload video clips. Clubs and societies post video of their meetings and events. A local church offers live broadcasts of baptisms and weddings on a paid basis. Parents and grandparents chat over video with children and grandchildren far away.
OnsNet is an example of something Brainport calls “open innovation.” The Brainport nonprofit terms itself is an open innovation platform, in which many players pursue their own interests in collaboration with others, with Brainport acting as instigator, facilitator, negotiator and traffic cop.
The model is simple to explain in theory but hard to carry out in practice. World markets are changing fast and demographics are presenting challenges to growth all around the globe. The hope of the Eindhoven region is that years of practicing open innovation, on a foundation of information and communications technology, provide an advantage that competitors will find it hard to match.
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Intelligent Community of the Year 2011
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The major question Top7 host cities have before I set out to visit them is what I want to know. There is some anxiety on their part because they want to make sure that they do well in Columbus on June 16, but also because they want to show off their cities. There are also several people involved and a lot of coordination and, I’m sure, cost involved with a Top7 Site Visit. So I am sensitive to this and try to be a good guest and not make people feel like the Grand Inquisitor and Inspector General has rolled into town.Read more
The city’s name tells you something about its history. Located on the Ruhr River in the Ruhr Valley, Mülheim took part in the economic success of one of Europe’s great industrial centers, famed for steel manufacture and coal-mining. Its transformation began in 1964 during what the Germans called the coal and steel crisis – an abrupt loss of competitiveness as lower-cost suppliers of those commodities entered an increasingly global market. In that year, Mülheim reluctantly became the Ruhr Valley’s first city free of steel-making when major blast furnaces closed. Two years later, the city’s last coal mine was shuttered. The economic impact was severe.
From Industry to Trade
The city’s response was to return to its its traditional role as a trading center. Europe’s largest indoor shopping center opened there in 1973. Over succeeding decades, brownfield sites were reclaimed to serve as office and light industrial space. A 245,000-square-meter industrial wasteland was transformed in 2000 as the Siemens Technopark, and a start-up center opened in 2005 to support new entrepreneurship. Other major employers came to include the trading company Tengelmann and the technology firm Thyssen.
This progress has accelerated in the last ten years. A midsize city of 170,000, Mülheim is home to two Max Planck Institutes and a new technical college, Ruhr West, set up in 2009. A government-business-academic partnership is building an Innovation Triangle program on this foundation connecting all the links in the educational chain from secondary school through higher education and local employment. Mülheim is establishing a consumer Internet hub to promote e-business start-ups, which will make it one of five digital hubs in the state of North-Rhine Westphalia. The hub will offer business accelerator programs, co-working and incubator space, access to seed funding and to educational programs in business administration, legal and taxation issues.
Mülheim is also working to expand opportunities for its less educated population, particularly youth. The U25 House program offers vocational counseling in secondary school and a case management service that helps young people with job search, skills development, access to support programs and entry into apprenticeships. So successful has this School to Work program been that the city’s youth unemployment rate, at 4.5%, is 40% lower than the regional average.
While helping individuals achieve their potential, Mülheim also focuses on small-to-midsize enterprises (SMEs). City government, the chamber of commerce and business associations have launched SME 4.0, a campaign to make SME owners and executives aware of the opportunities available from digital technologies. A project called Engage NRW modeled how gaming technologies could be applied to improve service and production processes. By the end of the project, SMEs had signed €1.5 million in contracts with technology consultants and providers.
To ensure that the city has the broadband infrastructure it needs, Mülheim completed in 2015 a complete inventory of the telecom conduit network owned by multiple organizations that underlies the city. Mapped with GIS, the conduit registry reduces the challenges for new broadband providers and has encouraged the city to consider construction of its own network to accelerate competitive pressure and boost average speeds while reducing prices.
As the city changes, it has been careful to engage organizations and citizens as partners in envisioning the future. One multi-partner initiative is coordinating a program to cut carbon emissions in half by 2030, while another is forging a new urban development model that includes everything from business and social services to sustainability and health. Like the leaders of Intelligent Communities everywhere, Mülheim’s leaders know that its people, not technology, make a city great.
Issy-les-Moulineaux, a city just across the Seine from Paris, has an employment rate close to 96%. More than 75% of its companies are in information and communications technologies. Issy’s employers today field a workforce that is slightly larger than the city’s population, because so many companies have moved out of central Paris to take advantage of its infrastructure, business-friendly climate, lower local taxes and innovative services.
It was not ever thus.
Prior to World War II, Issy-les-Moulineaux (which translates into English as Issy of the Windmills) was the factory zone of the Paris metro area. It was also home to an army base that, in 1908, saw the historic first 1-kilometer circuit flight of aviator Henri Farman. After the War, Issy resumed its role as the industrial engine of the region – but then watched its economy erode in the de-industrialization of the 1970s and 1980s. Many of the world’s great cities have industrial sub-cities like Issy, and many remain decimated by the collapse of manufacturing employment.
But the fate of Issy-les-Moulineaux was to be different, and to a greater extent than in most places, the difference was made by a single individual. In 1984, the people of Issy elected André Santini as their Mayor. Over the next nearly 40 years, his administration provided leadership that was by turns visionary, daring and enormously persistent.
Envisioning the Future
First came the vision. With its proximity to the French capital and a major Army base, Issy was already home to a small cluster of IT, telecommunications and R&D organizations. Mayor Santini came to believe that they represented the city’s future, and made it his top priority to create a business environment that would attract many more.
What would such a business environment look like? It would include the things that traditional economic development stresses: reasonable tax rates and good infrastructure, transparency and efficiency in government, access to labor and transportation. But long before it became accepted wisdom, Mayor Santini saw that would include an innovative culture comfortable with technology and adept at using it to solve problems.
As the Eighties gave way to the Nineties, the Mayor’s government made a series of investments that signaled its technology priorities. Issy became the first French city to install outdoor electronic information displays and the first to deploy a cable TV network. In 1993, schools introduced a smart card allowing pupils to pay for lunch electronically. The following year, the City Council rebuilt its meeting room for multimedia and began broadcasting Council meetings over the cable system.
In 1994, the Mayor also challenged city departments to create a comprehensive Information Plan based on study of the evolution of the Internet in the United States. The Internet was then in its infancy: 1994 was the year when Netscape, creator of the first commercial Web browser, was founded in California. Under the plan, completed in 1996, a Steering Committee representing municipal departments and elected officials was created to oversee investment in projects and maintain focus on objectives. The Steering Committee’s founding led the city to adopt the Plan Local d’Information (Local Information Plan) with the goal of transforming Issy into a “digital city.”
But policymaking was never a substitute for action. By 1995, Issy had free Internet access – with the fledgling Netscape browser and the new Internet Explorer – in its Media Library. Issy’s first version of an e-government portal was already online in 1996. By 1997, the Council added interactivity to its cable and Internet broadcast of meetings, inviting citizens to ask questions by telephone or email and get an immediate response. Public participation began to climb. Whereas few residents bothered to attend Council meetings in the past, nearly half regularly participate remotely today. In 2002, Issy created a Participative Budget-Making Platform that enables citizens to help in setting local investment priorities. (Its latest generation includes an online game for children 7 to 14 that challenges them to test their knowledge of local finances.)
Service was expanded in 2005 with the IRIS "citizen relationship management" system, through which citizens could make inquiries or lodge complaints online, via telephone, email or mail. By 2010, Issy had extended e-government to the mobile user, with mobile phone payment of parking fees and an array of mobile remote support services for the elderly. Today, the portal (www.issy.com) provides local news, online public procurement, online applications for certificates and permits, access to more than 15,000 documents, air quality and weather updates and a variety of other services.
Betting on Broadband
The Santini administration also dared to place big bets on the future. In 1998, the city made headlines by deciding to outsource its entire IT infrastructure to Euriware, a 10-year-old Paris company. The goal was to create an efficient service organization that could quickly turn ideas from municipal departments into reality. Mayor Santini promoted it as the first essential step in transforming Issy into a "digital city" as per the Local Information Plan.
The following year, the state-owned France Telecom lost its monopoly on telecommunications. The history of liberalization in telecom has been mixed at best. It has succeeded in lowering prices, particularly for long-distance service, but has failed in local markets around the world to loosen the grip of incumbents. Not so in Issy – because, well before the deadline, Mayor Santini's team launched negotiations with alternative carriers, which agreed to enter public-private partnerships with Issy to deploy networks. As a result, on the same day that the monopoly ended, Issy became the first city in France to offer businesses a choice of carriers. Over the next twenty years, as it continued to welcome competitors, Issy gained a total of six alternative broadband networks, passing 100% of businesses, government agencies, institutions and households. Issy also operates a network of 150 free WiFi access points, with speeds up to 20 Mbps, around the city. Today, 95% of Issy’s households have broadband connections, compared with the French average of 85%.
Growing Digital Services Based on Broadband Success
With a robust broadband infrastructure in place, Issy’s government has concentrated on encouraging citizens and businesses to make it an essential part of their life and work. The city’s schools have had PCs for many years now as well as a system of “mobile classes” equipped with PCs and tablets to make learning easier and more accessible. In 2015 however, Issy began deployment of the Environnement National de Travail (Digital School Platform) for all classes in the city.
The Digital School Platform allows teachers to collaborate on teaching methods, share materials and gain access to a variety of useful data from their colleagues throughout the city while also allowing parents to follow their children’s work, activities and any other matters of interest digitally. During 2016, more than 150 teachers (over half of those in the city) attended training sessions on the Digital School Platform. Issy’s 250 classrooms now each have an interactive digital projector and laptop for the teacher, allowing easy access to the Digital School Platform and all online course materials. The city has also offered Microsoft Office 356 Pro licenses to each elementary-school-aged child and each teacher in their schools to guarantee access to digital technologies outside of school and for use in school assignments. As of September 2017, all Issy primary schools have fiber optic Internet access as well.
Outside of the school system, computer training courses are provided to all ages in the Issy Media Library and the Cube, a digital arts center. Courses are also provided purely online for those who cannot easily get to the facilities in person, such as the elderly and disabled. Senior citizens can learn how to use computers and access the Internet in the familiar and comforting environment of Cyber Tearooms as well. A campaign launched in 2006 refurbishes older computers donated by business and government and provides them at affordable prices to low-income families.
An annual Cube Festival involves the public in showcasing the many facets of digital creation through digital arts exhibitions. In 2010, the Festival introduced a multimedia urban adventure game, in which players use new technologies to solve puzzles, moving back and forth between the real and the virtual worlds.
A Living Lab
Issy’s strategy envisions an “innovation triangle,” with businesses as technology facilitators, citizens as the users and the government as the initiator and coordinator of projects. Through partnership agreements with companies like Microsoft and European Union programs like Living Labs, Issy has become a test bed for new technologies. In 2008, the European Network of Living Labs granted Issy the official title of “Medialand Living Lab of Issy-les-Moulineaux.”
As a living lab, the city began testing new mobile and web applications as well as a local platform focused on mobility in 2015. Services currently being tested include an augmented reality history app and a participatory urbanism one as well. The local testers group includes 250 subscribers as of 2017 who regularly participate in pilot activities and provide feedback to the city on which services work for them and what changes can be made to further improve quality and accessibility for the populace.
One of the projects currently under testing in Issy’s Living Lab is So Mobility. The project aims to reduce traffic congestion, as Issy-les-Moulineaux lies next to Paris in the heart of a particularly dense urban metropolis. So Mobility’s priorities include installing traffic sensors to provide drivers with real-time traffic updates, developing new solutions for smart parking and testing new transport modes such as driverless shuttles and carpooling. As part of the project, Issy hosted an integrated mobility test in collaboration with the Colas, Cisco, Indigo and Transdev companies in 2017 to determine congestion and parking patterns produced by the Grand Paris Express autonomous metro project, which is currently in development. Three local startups also began offering efficient carpooling services in Issy in 2017, and the city has begun promoting such methods to many other companies in the area as a result of their success.
Staying the Course
The transformation of Issy from declining industrial district to booming tech corridor has hardly been an overnight success. Over three decades, the community has worked persistently and consistently to promote both digital business and a prosperous digital lifestyle for all of its citizens.
Issy is not a university town and has no higher education in the formal sense. But with encouragement from government, France Telecom R&D conducts training for students in the telecom sector and the community’s many IT companies are active recruiters of students for internships. Studec TV, a Grande Ecole offering continuing education for broadcasting professionals, welcomed its first students to Issy in 2009, and the Paris Bar School, which has trained more than 23,000 lawyers since 1988, moved into new offices in the city in 2011.
For decades, Mayor Santini has insisted that no segment of the population be left behind when it comes to technology. In June 2010, he joined the French Minister of Health to officially open the first rest home in France to combine leading-edge technologies and health services with architectural comfort. With its own video production studio and video-on-demand network, the Lassere Rest Home uses video to help seniors stay in touch with the world and each other. A regular “Laserre Infos” TV program, produced by a senior resident and a youngster from one of the city’s youth associations, keeps residents updated on events in the Rest Home. A series of interviews called “Petals of Life” allow 100-year-old residents to share their experiences and memories with Issy’s inhabitants.
ICF recognized Issy’s vision, daring and persistence in 2009 when it named Mayor Andre Santini its Intelligent Community Visionary of the Year. His vision has guided the city for longer than most of us have lived in the places we currently reside, and it has left Issy of the Windmills well prepared to continue prospering in the decades to come.
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Issy-les-Moulineaux was featured in the Intelligent Community Forum book Brain Gain.
Labor Force: 72,000
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