South Koreans expect government to have a strong hand. The nation is a world leader in broadband penetration and speed in part because of directives issued by the national government beginning in 1995 that drove massive investment and fierce competition among private-sector carriers. It wasn’t always pretty. Companies lost money, went bankrupt or merged with each other before finding profitability. But the end result for the nation was a broadband infrastructure the envy of much of the world.
In Suwon, which lies south of Seoul and is the capital of Gyeonggi Province, a strong governing hand goes back centuries. The city was founded 200 years ago as Korea’s first planned community by King Jungjo, the 22nd ruler of the Chosen Dynasty. Long a relatively small town, Suwon has seen a surge in its population in recent decades that now makes it the second largest municipality, after Seoul, in the nation.
Like satellite cities in other regions of the world, Suwon succeeded in part by serving the needs of its much larger neighbour. It became a transportation center for southern Seoul as well as a manufacturing hub specializing in both technology and heavy industry. Then came the Asian financial crisis of 1997. Suwon's largest employer, Samsung Electronics, moved outside the city limits in 2003 and another big employer, Samsung Corning, ceased operations in 2005. While the big chaebol like Samsung dominate much of South Korea’s economy, Suwon’s leadership realized that such domination comes with costs.
Investing in a New Economy
Led by Mayor Yong Seo Kim, Suwon set about creating an economy whose growth would be based on small-to-midsize enterprises (SMEs) specializing in IT, biotech and nanotechnology. City government was not shy about backing that goal with public investment. In 2003, the city began development of Suwon Industrial Complex I, which was completed in 2006 and now houses 156 metal fabrication companies. Complex II, completed in 2008, is home to 40 companies manufacturing electronic components, imaging, acoustic and telecom devices. Complex III is now under construction with a target completion date of 2012. Suwon provides the infrastructure and a range of incentives to encourage developers and factories to locate there.
For smaller firms, Suwon has put US$7 million into developing nine multi-tenant buildings, including Suwon Venture Plaza, Digital Empire and Innoplex, where 900 companies now employ over 11,000 people. A further three multi-tenant buildings are under construction to house 320 companies and over 4,000 employees. Attractive incentives for occupancy include exemption from or reduction of registration, acquisition, property and value-added taxes. The latest project is a Business Incubation Center that opened in 2008 and is now home to 25 companies.
Public-sector support extends beyond property investment and tax incentives. City government also allocates US$27m per year as investment capital to strengthen the competiveness of SMEs. The funding is designed to be matched by private investment or bank loans, but for companies too small to attract private financing, Suwon offers subsidies of up to $18,000 to support prototype development. Suwon also has an innovative Electronic Trade Office that connects to other Korean cities as well as partner cities in Asia, Europe and Latin America. The Office offers products online for sale by Suwon companies and provides a videoconferencing system to promote deal-making without the need to travel. To date, companies have sold $200,000 worth of products through the Office. A branch office of the Korean Trade Investment Promotion Agency extends this effort by providing overseas representation for Suwon companies. From 2003 to 2008, nearly 500 local businesses took part in expositions and market development projects.
Anyone with experience in municipal government knows that just throwing money at a problem is no guarantee of success. While betting taxpayers' money on buildings and companies, Suwon has also built a web of collaborative relationships among industry, universities and government. The tangible result is a large number of public-private research centers and institutes, including the Gyeonggi Regional Research Center, Content Convergence Software Research Center, Gyeonggi Bio Center, Korea Nano Fab Center, Next Generation Convergence Technology Institute and Green Energy, Auto Parts & Material Research Center. Some are located at local institutions including Sungkyunkwan University and Gyeonggi University. Others are based in yet another development, Kwangkyo Techno Valley, a $450m campus that is home to 145 R&D organizations.
Seven years of nurturing SMEs in specific industries have borne fruit. Two-third of Suwon companies specialize in one of its targeted industries: electronics, medical devices, chemicals and specialty metals. Companies with 50 or fewer employees make up 94% of all employers in the city.
Suwon's efforts to develop a 21st Century information infrastructure have been no less bold. In 2005, city government established the Ubiquitous Suwon Master Plan, branded as U-Happy. The goal was to make Suwon's government more transparent, more responsive to citizens and more cost-effective.
The city decided to develop its own governmental network despite South Korea's impressive broadband infrastructure. It was able to trim nearly a quarter-million US dollars from its operating costs by eliminating leased lines, and the use of conduit already installed for the transportation management system kept construction costs to a minimum. Control of its own network allowed Suwon to boost connection speeds from 32 Mbps to a blazing 1 Gbps.
What followed was a massive re-engineering project to consolidate and integrate multiple existing computer systems covering taxation, real estate, public health and safety, transportation management and city administration. Five city agencies collaborated on integration of GIS and aerial imaging data to simplify planning, eliminate hazards and increase efficiency. A unified Web gateway now provides citizens with access to online service requests, reports, payment, news and information. With 10 million unique visits per year, the site handled over 600,000 transactions in 2009 for 93,000 registered users, who can also elect to receive news and access their accounts by mobile phone. A Happy Suwon Broadcasting Station delivers local news over the Web on city government, cultural events, education and entertainment programs. And to ensure that services are available to the offline population, an Interactive Data Digital TV service offers government news, interactive services and information on traffic, health and culture through the familiar interface of the television set.
Suwon works to steadily reduce the size of that offline group. More than 35,000 people have received digital skills training from skilled volunteers in 20 education centers since 2002. As the city replaces computers in its offices, the old units are refurbished and distributed to children's centers, libraries and social welfare facility. Nearly 5,000 PCs have reached users since 2003, and the city also runs a PC clinic to provide ongoing maintenance for the systems. Suwon has also expanded the number of libraries, each with public access computers, from three in 2002 to eight today. Over five million visitors entered the libraries in 2009, up from 2.2 million in 2003. The Suwon Love Scholarship Foundation awarded $459m in scholarships to 800 students, as well as research grants to high-performing teachers, from 2006 to 2008. The scholarships go to low-income, high-potential and special education students to help pay the high costs of education.
Investing in the Mind
"Investment in education," wrote Suwon in its Top Seven nomination, "is one of the most sound and rational outlays of capital that a government can make." Between 2002 and 2009, the city backed up that proposition by investing more than US$360m in upgrading school facilities, opening new schools and expanding staff. A further $186m will fund the 2010 Suwon Education Development Support Plan, which includes 74 individual projects focusing on education for a global economy.
Globalization is much on the mind of Suwon's leadership. The Happy Suwon English Village opened in 2006 to provide an intensive learning environment in the global language of business to 7,300 elementary school students per year. A new Suwon Village of Foreign Languages, scheduled to open at the end of 2010, will provide the same environment for languages including Chinese and Japanese. In 2007, Suwon established the Gyeonggi Suwon Foreign School to make the city a premier destination for expatriates with families working for Korean multinationals. The school's targeted enrollment is 75% foreign nationals and 25% local students.
Suwon's educational programs also focus on technology innovation. The Scientific Education Institute of Gyeonggi Province offers specialized IT classes at a local secondary school. The city holds an annual Suwon Invention Competition for students and sends contestants to the World Innovation Olympiad every year. Since 2004, Suwon has organized an Information & Science Festival, which attracts 60,000 registrants to a National e-Sports Competition, National Intelligent Robot Competition, Students' Science Festival, Professional Gamers Exhibition and many more events.
The financial crisis of 1997 set Suwon on its present course and triggered investment in building an SME-driven economy, e-government and education. South Korea was not immune to the recession of 2008-2009; its economy shrank 5% in the last quarter of 2008. But it began to rebound in early 2009, thanks in part to strong government action. It was perhaps no coincidence that, in January 2010, the United Nations announced that Korea had topped its e-government rankings, the first such performance by an Asian nation. It was the same success story found, on a local scale, in Suwon.
In the News
Read the latest updates about Suwon.
Want to know more about Suwon?
Suwon was featured in the Intelligent Community Forum book Seizing Our Destiny.
Labor Force: 551,500
In 2001, Frost & Sullivan named South Korea the world’s leader in broadband deployment, and Seoul, the capital and primary population center, is the hotbed of the phenomenon. Year-on-year, the number of subscribers grew 59% from 2000 to 2001. According to the OECD, there were 23 million broadband users in Korea by the end of 2001, 50% of the online population, including 8 million individual subscriptions. This achievement is the product of strong government policy in support of broadband services. Three years ago, the Ministry of Information and Communications made broadband infrastructure a high priority, reflecting the goals of President Kim Dae Jung. The government began to invest in networks for its agencies, schools and universities and offered US$400 million in loans to carriers for infrastructure construction. This led first Korea Telecom and then its competitors to invest an estimated $10 billion in network development.
Pointing the Way
Today, there are more than 70 broadband service providers, led by Korea Telecom, Hanaro Telecom and Korea Thrunet. These leaders have bundled content along with access in an effort to build usage. The nine key Internet access applications are online gaming, Internet telephony, e-learning, movies-on-demand, finance, shopping, broadcasting, chat and music. Under the combined pressure of government policy and competition, access prices are kept low — users pay either a flat fee or a usage-based price only slightly higher than dial-up service. Yet revenues from broadband applications and services generated US$3.5 billion in 2001, and both Korea Telecom and Hanaro Telecom have achieved operating break-even. Residents have been inculcated with the “broadband lifestyle,” according to Frost & Sullivan, and spend an average of 13 hours on the Internet each week. With its mix of clear policy direction, investment incentives and pricing, Seoul and the entire South Korean nation are pointing the way for the rest of the world in broadband.
Intelligent Community of the Year 2002 (co-honoree)
The Gangnam District lies to the south of the Han River, which snakes through South Korea's capital city from east to west. This district of 557,000 people contains 2.5% of Seoul's people but produces 25% of its gross domestic product. High-rise apartments make up 80% of its residential areas, and the district is home to the corporate headquarters of such Korean firms as POSCO and Korea Telecom, as well as the IT venture companies on Teheran Road, South Korea's Silicon Valley.
So it is perhaps no surprise that, if you wish to see how completely broadband and information technology can transform local government, Gangnam-gu (as it is called in Korean) is the place to go.
Getting an Early Start
Gangnam's development as an Intelligent Community began in 1995, when the district launched its first "electronic government" project. By 1997, the district had a local area network connecting government offices and a set of tax payment and other applications running on public kiosks. By 1999, the system could process all registrations, permits and other citizen applications electronically. Gangnam converted the system to the Web in 2002, and by 2006, Gangnam collected 264 billion won (US$280m) in taxes online, 15% of the total, and issued 2 million documents to citizens through the Internet or public kiosks. The system has made possible a 25% reduction in the local government's employment since 1995, saving 36.7bn won (US$39m), even as population and economic activity have grown sharply. In terms of what economists call "opportunity cost," Gangnam estimates that it has saved citizens time worth another 28.5bn won (US$30m). Just as important, it has minimized opportunities for corruption, because nearly every transaction between government and constituents (except those requiring the protection of personal privacy) takes place through Web-accessible platforms. As Koreans say, "no fungus grows in the light." Gangnam's system for providing access to public documents was adopted by the national government in 2002.
The years since 1995 were witness to an economic miracle in South Korea, which saw per capita GDP climb 71% through 2006. There was a matching broadband miracle as well. In 1995, only 1% of South Koreans used the Internet. Under strong policies from the national government, private wireline and wireless carriers deployed broadband networks that reached 14 million subscribers (28% of South Korea's population) by 2006, ranking the nation fourth in the world. They also enjoy some of the fastest speeds in the world, with 100 Mbps available for as little as 35,000 won (US$37) per month. Today, 3,000 Gangnam residents subscribe to Wibro, an advanced form of broadband that can be used even in a speeding car, while 8,000 South Koreans are using a digital broadcasting service to watch TV on their handheld devices during the commute to work.
Broadband for the People
Gangnam-gu was quick to seize on broadband as a means to make government more transparent, increase citizen participation, and even to help citizens who remained outside the local broadband economy. About 350,000 citizens are registered users of the district's Web portal, and 210,000 are subscribers to an email system that asks for their comment on proposed laws and regulations. They seem to take their responsibilities seriously. Recently, the district proposed installation of surveillance cameras in a particular alley in a residential district. A local human rights organization opposed the move on privacy grounds. When polled by email, however, 82% of residents supported the move and installation subsequently led to a 40% reduction in crimes in the area. One interesting aspect of the email polling system is that Gangnam uses demographic weighting to adjust the results. It compares the demographics of the citizens who vote (provided in the registration process) with those of the district as a whole, and weights the voting in order to make it reflective of the whole population.
The Web has also played a vital role in a public campaign introduced by newly elected Mayor Maeng Jung-ju in July 2006 called the Movement to Keep Basic Order. The campaign enlists citizens in reporting on public nuisances, from illegal parking to environmental violations, by phone and online. More important than improved law enforcement is the change it has created in public awareness. Within 10 months of the campaign's start, the average daily number of violations reported dropped nearly 9%.
Gangnam has also found innovative ways to bring the benefits of Web-enabled government to citizens who have never gone online. In 2005, Gangnam equipped its social service staff with wireless PDAs, enabling them to check information, make reports and request services while visiting clients. In 2006, it launched TV GOV, a set of interactive e-government applications running over the familiar medium of the television set. The system enables users to access services in 34 categories, as well as government news channels, cultural and arts channels, and specialized information for seniors, women and children. In 2007, the district began offering a service that placed wireless motion detectors in the homes of the elderly and triggered a remote alarm if the sensor failed to detect motion for an extended period of time. In 2008, the service will be extended to provide citizens with the option of wireless location tracking for young children or the elderly suffering from dementia. These are the first of a set of "ubiquitous technology" services that the district expects to introduce in coming years to further improve the quality of life of its citizens.
Education Online and Offline
Korean culture puts a premium on education. The success of the broadband economy in Gangnam has both added to educational requirements and delivered new ways to meet them. To equip citizens with digital skills, a program called the Regional Information Classroom has provided classes on computers and the Web to over 400,000 citizens in their middle and senior years. Additional instruction is available via programs on TV GOV.
Education is a major expense for families with children in South Korea, and low-income students are at a substantial disadvantage. Gangnam offers several programs to lower this barrier. The district offers over 100 online lectures from a famous private academy for only 20,000 won (US$21) per year to more than 335,000 registrants. It has opened digital libraries in the empty classrooms of elementary schools, providing access to 330,000 electronic books not only in those schools but nationwide to more than 133,000 students in 123 communities. The district also has a partnership with the University of California at Riverside's International Education Center to deliver ESL (English as a Second Language) instruction to students in the district. Knowledge of English is considered so important that it assigns native English speakers to work in its schools and operates an "English Experience Village," in which students interact with native English speakers in real-life situations.
This vast array of programs takes a great deal of investment. Gangnam also invests directly in business development. Its Small & Medium Business Development Fund invested 4 billion won (US$4.2m) in 32 technology companies in 2006. It also underwrites the activities of local nonprofits dedicated to business development, child welfare, sports and conservation. But in addition to the intangible returns of good governance, the community sometimes receives a direct return that also makes headlines. In 2004, Saga City in Japan awarded a US$2 million contract to a Gangnam company to build a complex software platform. What Saga City wanted, and was willing to pay for, was Gangnam's e-government system.
Labor Force: 496,490
Intelligent Community of the Year 2008
Smart21 2006 | 2007 | 2008
Top7 2006 | 2007
The story of many Intelligent Communities is of boom times followed by bust in the second half of the 20th Century. For Whanganui, on the southwest coast of New Zealand’s North Island, the best of times may lie ahead. Bypassed by national rail lines in the 19th Century – which led to the closing of a railways workshop that was a major employer – it was bypassed again by broadband providers in the 20th. Though rich in natural beauty and culture, Whanganui ranks near the bottom of the New Zealand index of social deprivation. That is a reputation the city has begun to change.
Spreading Broadband Awareness
In recent years, Whanganui has secured a high-speed, open-access, fiber-to-the-premise network for the city, with sixteen retailers now providing services over fiber. Many neighboring towns and regions, however, continue to struggle with low quality broadband and dial-up speeds, and Whanganui still has its own rural broadband gaps to fill. To address this issue and help the region as a whole, representatives of the Whanganui Digital Leaders Forum, led by Mayor Annette Main, visited the New Zealand central government to advocate for a national investment in fiber networks. The representatives proposed at those meetings that the government should consult with communities across the country to discover the highest areas of need, as communities are know their own needs best. The Mayor of Whanganui also asked neighboring mayors to support a cross-regional approach to fiber expansion to help raise political understanding and support for these proposals.
From 2014 to 2015, Whanganui ran a pilot program called “About Us,” which provided a free online presence for local businesses. The project has since been improved and expanded based on the pilot and offered cross regionally as #GetDigital. The GetDigital project offers a free online presence for all local businesses, a free online learning community, access to cloud solutions for each community’s needs, a page on local success stories with video content, a page on local workshops and events, and a digital engagement dashboard to track each community’s progress. In the eighteen months since implementing this project and the cross-region strategy, broadband use has nearly doubled in Whanganui, according to New Zealand’s largest fiber provider.
The WeLearn Charitable Trust was established in 2015 to facilitate education through collaboration between digital educators and local companies. WeLearn has organized a pilot project connecting student devices to a fixed wi-fi network with the help of a local wi-fi company. Three schools will be taking part in the trial, which will be run free of cost to determine if it is an effective solution. Discussions are currently underway with hardware providers. Tawhero, one of the founding schools of the WeLearn Trust, aims to provide 1:1 devices to students and free Internet access 24/7 so that students can take their devices home and continue learning there. As of now, the school provides 24-hour free wireless Internet connectivity for community usage and encourages the community to come to the school grounds for access. Three classrooms so far have 1:1 devices (mostly Chromebooks) for their students, and the school is working to increase this number.
WeLearn has also been in discussions with The Mind Lab, a pioneer in digital and collaborative learning, and also with Unitec, a leader in applied vocational education. Together, the organizations are offering an applied, progressive and blended postgraduate qualification program for teachers, specializing in digital and collaborative learning. The program introduces new teaching methodologies and practical knowledge of digital tools. As of November 2016, thirty-four teachers from twenty different Whanganui schools have enrolled in the Mind Lab’s program to complete its Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Practice (Digital and Collaborative Learning).
The Innovation Quarter
Whanganui’s planned Innovation Quarter is a major part of its regional growth strategy. The initial framework will consist of four sectors or “quarters” – the incubator quarter, the creative quarter, the agribusiness quarter, and the aged care and health innovation quarter. The facility will be a hub of collaboration where corporate, local businesses, education providers, and local artists and specialists all interact and form strategic partnerships. The Innovation Quarter will be attached to a town center library and central transport hub for easy access. To make this center of collaboration a reality, the Whanganui District Council has included the Innovation Quarter in its ten-year plan (2015-2025).
One of the Innovation Quarter’s most integral components is the Maori Business Hub, which creates opportunities for local Maori businesses to meet and network with each other across a range of industries. The Maori Business Hub is intended to be a renewed version of the 2003 Whanganui Maori Business Network, which closed in 2007. The hub will serve as a place for learning, sharing knowledge, creating alliances and bringing a uniquely Maori perspective to business in Whanganui.
The Innovation Quarter will provide many educational and economic benefits. Collaboration among the quarters in a centrally organized hub will allow Whanganui to attract blended programs from Auckland University of Technology and the Universal College of Learning as well as international education providers to the region, allowing students to stay local while learning. The Innovation Quarter will also be able to develop applied learning programs that are more in tune with private sector needs, which will help residents find more local quality employment opportunities. On the economic side, a central hub will help new businesses to grow more quickly, providing an ideal environment for entrepreneurship.
Digital Access for Those Most in Need
Computers in Homes is a digital inclusion project that focuses on digital literacy for parents and guardians. This ensures that whole families gain an understanding and appreciation of technology as parents pass on knowledge to their children. At a cost of $50, the program provides low-income families with free training, a computer, twelve months of subsidized Internet access and technical support. From 2013 to 2014, the Whanganui Computers in Homes program assisted 117 families, resulting in 130 new Computers in Comes graduates. These families represented about 10% of Whanganui’s families that do not currently have access to a computer or the Internet.
Stepping Up is a program that provides free, community-based computer and Internet training programs for adults. It is a suitable follow-up program for those that have participated in Computers in Homes. Stepping Up provides a number of training modules (called digital steps) for those with basic computer knowledge who wish to expand their skills in one or more areas to improve their work and home life. The training modules generally take no more than 2.5 hours to complete and are delivered by local training providers and libraries for ease of access. As of July 2016, Whanganui has delivered a computer, Internet connection, and twenty hours of course training to over one thousand families in the region. The city intends to increase Stepping Up coverage in libraries in Whanganui, Rangitikei, and Ruapehu in the coming year.
Since being named a Smart21 for the first time four years ago, Whanganui has become an example to cities across New Zealand and begun to build a reputation very different from its past.
Smart21 2013 | 2014 | 2015 |2016 | 2017 | 2020
Yokosuka is the port city on Tokyo Bay where the “black ships” of the United States, commanded by Commodore Matthew Perry, first landed in Japan and forced an end to hundreds of years of self-imposed isolation from the rest of the world. During Japan’s amazing industrial transformation, this city of 430,000, located 50 kilometers from Tokyo, became a center for steel, shipbuilding, automobiles and other heavy industries as well as a Japanese navy base. In 1972, Yokosuka reached a turning point with the establishment of a new Nippon Telephone & Telegraph R&D center in the city. First-class researchers were dispatched from major Japanese telecom equipment manufacturers to the new center in order to work on advanced telecom technology. The success in attracting NTT caused the city government to investigate the concept of basing future economic development on “info-communications,” a term coined by the Japanese to describe the merging of information and telecommunications technologies. The city published its Yokosuka Intelligent City Plan in 1986, subsequently gained the support of the powerful Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, and in 1998, announced the creation of the Yokosuka Research Park (YRP).
Yokosuka Research Park
Like Stanford University Park in Silicon Valley or Sophia Antipolis in France, the concept of YRP was to create an international research development base for the world’s most advanced ICT technology. Today, the Park houses 6,000 research workers, many from overseas, and offers subsidized rental costs to attract new research enterprises such as the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications. All workers have access to broadband at speeds of up to 100 Mbps, nearly 400 times faster than typical consumer broadband in most countries. But thanks to policies of the national government, the impact of YRP extends far beyond its boundaries. Though until recently a laggard, Japan now ranks third in the world for penetration of broadband, a change driven by average retail prices of about US$25 per month for 12 Mbps of connectivity. Responding to a national e-Japan program, Yokosuka has invested about US$26 million over six years in e-government projects, including an electronic procurement system that is saving over US$30 million per year of taxpayer’s money and increased both the transparency and competitiveness of bidding. During a long period of economic stagnation in Japan, Yokosuka is leading the way toward a new model of growth for the world’s second-largest economy.
Mitaka is a suburb of Tokyo, home to 173,000 people in its 16.5 sq km (6.8 sq miles) of space. Before the Second World War, it was home to Japan’s aeronautical industry and many small and medium-size manufacturers, giving it an early reputation as a high-tech center. But in the 1950s, high-tech manufacturing moved to lower-cost sites, threatening Mitaka’s economic viability. Fortunately, the city also began to attract a different kind of organization: universities, corporate research centers and data centers. They were drawn by Mitaka’s proximity to Tokyo, its location in a low-risk area for earthquakes (important to data center operations), and by the remaining base of manufacturers, including JRC, a well-known and highly-regarded technology company. As a result, over the next decades, the city developed a social and political culture that prized technology and considered R&D of high importance.
This culture stood Mitaka in good stead as the digital revolution began re-making the economy of Japan and of the world. In 1984, Mitaka became the first city in Japan to host a field test of fiber-to-the-home networking. In 1988, it served as a test bed for Japan’s first ISDN service and, in 1996, Musashin-Mitaka Cable Television became the first ISP in Japan to offer broadband at 10 Mbps. Today, Japan is a world leader in both broadband deployment (third in the world after South Korea and Canada) and broadband pricing, with some of the world’s lowest subscription costs. Even more important was a tradition of strong citizen participation, because it equipped Mitaka to respond flexibly and energetically to the challenges of a global economy. The current mayor, Keiko Kiyohara, came to her office after decades as a technology educator and leader of citizen groups. As the city has created development strategies, citizens have collaborated in planning, from transportation and public services to land use and communications.
In the late Nineties, Mitaka launched a “SOHO City Mitaka” program to promote further development of the small office/home office businesses that were an important part of its economy. An organization called the Mitaka Town Management Organization (MTMO) was founded to create a SOHO incubator. Its seven facilities today are home to 100 technology businesses. MTMO also provides business-matching programs and venture investment and other financial services to encourage business start-up and growth. In 2003, Mitaka launched a new public-private project called “Mitaka City of Tomorrow,” with a core team of 83 citizens and representatives from business, universities and government. The project is now engaged in national field testing of information home appliances and citizen e-projects. As early as 1989, Mitaka had introduced computer literacy classes for teachers and students. By the late Nineties, the city had connected its schools to broadband and the cable TV system and begun introducing digital materials and computers as learning tools. One example was a 2003 school project involving 1,400 students that experimented with a wireless network running at 52 Mbps. And the city has not neglected its post-school population. It has created a series of classes and activity groups to introduce senior citizens and parents to life on the Internet.
Research & Design Center
Today, Mitaka is home to research and data centers for Dentsu, IBM Japan, SECOM and a variety of Japanese government agencies. There are a total of 61 educational institutions in the city employing 3,000 academics and researchers, and a group of universities lead by HOSEI is creating a new Mitaka Network University set to open in 2005. Mitaka has continued its traditional role as a cluster for the design and manufacturing of precision and optical instruments, and has become the worldwide hub for production of “anime” cartoons, producing an estimated 75% of all anime seen around the globe.
Intelligent Community of the Year 2005
In a nation with thousands of years of recorded history, the city of Ichikawa is a newcomer, having been founded as a residential suburb of Tokyo only in 1934. Since then, Ichikawa has benefited economically from its location near Tokyo Central Railway Station and Japan's primary international airport at Narita. Population grew strongly as a result, reaching nearly a half million people today.
But like the overall Japanese economy, Ichikawa has found itself challenged to continue that growth as manufacturing and high-tech industries, which spurred the last growth wave in the 1970s and 1980s, stumbled in the 1990s. The decade-long recession and deflation that gripped Japan until recently forced its local communities to innovate and adapt in order to survive. ICF recognizes Ichikawa for applying the principles of Intelligent Community development to charting a new course for its citizens and local businesses.
Ichikawa Business Plaza
The most visible sign of change in Ichikawa came in 2002, when a group of institutions led by the city's government opened Ichikawa Business Plaza. This was the community's first experiment with business incubation. The building provided broadband-enabled office space for small office, home office (SOHO) companies and larger enterprises, as well as public space offering PCs and a regional data center for the use of surrounding communities, nonprofit organizations and residents' associations. Managed by the Ichikawa Life Network Club, the Plaza currently has 29 companies as tenants, and offers them advice on finance, law and business issues through a network of advisors from universities, the Chamber of Commerce, and business owners in the region.
The Business Plaza became the core of an expanding series of programs designed to create a culture of use for broadband and information technology. The Plaza developers' timing was good, because Japan was just beginning serious and widespread adoption of broadband that would put the nation into third place worldwide, behind South Korea and Canada. This created demand among citizens for the offerings emerging from both the public and private sectors.
Broadband and its Applications
Shortly after deregulation in the 1980s, the city and local companies established the Ichikawa Cable Network Company to provide TV service. With broadband demand growing in the late 1990s, the cable TV company introduced a broadband service via cable modem in 2000 at lower prices than the incumbent NTT. By 2005, broadband subscribers on the cable network had grown fivefold to reach 9,000. Total broadband penetration in the city now exceeds 46%, compared with a national average of 39%.
The Chiba University of Commerce (CUC), located in Ichikawa, has a Faculty of Policy Informatics, which focuses on the use of IT in solving social problems. CUC has partnered with the government to create distance education programs over the Internet. The city was also chosen by Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology for a model project to develop a new system connecting public and school libraries to open up research resources to citizens. An e-government project called 360+5 has made many government services accessible online and installed Internet-access kiosks at public locations as well as 600 convenience stores. In 2001, the city started training classes for residents and citizen groups in information and communications technology and by 2005 had provided training to 30,000 people.
Public safety has been a hot topic for citizens, and in 2005, the city began installing video cameras in public locations and launched an online Ichikawa Safety e-Net program in cooperation with neighborhood associations. The e-Net allows citizens to report crimes and concerns through mobile phones and PCs, and distributes weather and disaster information.
Media City Ichikawa
One of the city's latest projects is Media City Ichikawa. Visited by 100,000 people each month, this facility aims to create a culture of use for broadband and the IT services it delivers. In the Media City, a Central Library provides access to books, research, music and videos online. An Audio-Visual Center offers an expanding archive of AV material from citizens and government agencies, as well as audio and video editing suites, music and video studios and an auditorium seating 260. To build the collection, the city hosts contests for the best audio-visual work. The Central Playhouse offers children playground equipment, books and PCs as well as classes, while an Education Center is devoted to training teachers in information and communications technology.
These efforts at continuous improvement have attracted both public and private organizations to locate in Ichikawa. The public/nonprofit sector is represented by the National Institute of Radiological Sciences, the Department of Engineering of the University of Tokyo, and seven universities and colleges including Tokyo Management College and Chiba Institute of Technology. Private-sector organizations include the technology division of Sumitomo Metal Mining, a TDK Corporation technical center, the Electronic Material Research department of Nissan Chemical and the R&D Center of NTT Communications. The total workforce in information and communications industries has grown from 57,000 in 1990 to 73,000 in 2005, seven times faster than overall population growth.
Labor Force: 239,322
Smart21 2006 | 2007
Bangalore, a city of six million in the southern Indian state of Karnartaka, is one of the world’s top centers of technology development. About 80,000 people work in its high-tech industry, many of them graduates of one of Bangalore’s more than 100 research universities or technical colleges. Hundreds of international companies — including IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Oracle, Sun Microsystems and American Express — have set up software development centers or contracted with local firms in order to take advantage of Bangalore’s supply of highly-trained, English-speaking computer graduates. Because of the vast gap in per-capita income between the West and India, salaries are high by Indian standards but are only a fraction of those commanded by programmers in the US or Europe. Just as important is the 24-hour working day that is created by satellite and fiber broadband circuits linking India and the US on opposite sides of the globe, with software engineers trading projects back and forth as their working days begin and end.
Since the mid-1990s, the result has been the creation of a fast-growing and affluent community of professionals in what locals call India’s “Garden City.” The achievement is particularly impressive when considered in context. India is a vast nation of one billion with per-capita gross domestic product of US$458 (2000), an estimated 44% of the population living in poverty (mid-90s), and only 30 residential phone lines per 1,000 people (2000). Bangalore’s success is due to the effective economic development marketing of a government agency, Software Technology Parks of India; to the grassroots efforts of Indian software engineers and entrepreneurs in the US, who have opened eyes to the potential of their native country; and to a local commitment to education and training that has made Bangalore the home of nearly 20% of Indian’s total institutions of higher education.
Founded in 1404, Tianjin is the biggest coastal city and largest seaport in northern China. It functions as neighboring Beijing's gateway to the sea, and is one of four Chinese municipalities under the direct jurisdiction of the central government. This city of 11 million has a strong industrial base in automobiles, pharmaceuticals, metallurgy, petrochemicals and such new fields as environmental services, and saw GDP growth of nearly 16% from 2003 to 2004, when its total output was worth US$36.3 billion. The city added 214,500 new jobs in 2004, 18% more than the prior year and saw per-capita income rise 14%.
The municipal government has nonetheless set its sights on building equally powerful information technology and service industries, and has eagerly embraced broadband and IT as means to make government more efficient and responsive, and business more productive. Northern China has been late to the Internet and broadband revolution, and there is a clear sense of urgency in Tianjin's efforts to catch up. Tianjin was among the Top Seven in 2005, and for the second year in a row, ICF recognizes the city for its aggressive application of the principles of Intelligent Community development in the unique political and economic environment of China.
From 20,000 to 2.7 Million in Two Years
Tianjin's Intelligent Community initiative is focused on broadband deployment for citizens, business and government; on e-government applications to make government more responsive and efficient; and on development of new high-tech industrial zones. The goals in its current five-year plan are to provide broadband access in 100% of the 12 km2 (4.6 sq. mile) city, have 80% of households own a PC and 55% of residents become Internet users, and have total broadband penetration reach 60%. Collaborating with telecom carriers, cable TV companies and equipment manufacturers, the city has deployed 20,000 km (12,500 miles) of optical fiber in multiple interconnected networks. The city had 2.7 million Internet subscribers at the end of 2004, up 35% from the prior year. (At the end of 2002, only 20,000 people in all of Tianjin used the Internet.) Broadband subscribers totaled 600,000 or 5% of the total population. A newly completed telecommunications hub in Tianjin provides switching and control for networks that connect the nine provinces of northern China.
Though part of the Beijing metroplex, Tianjin contains large rural areas where farming is the predominant industry. A “village to village” program has, with help from satellites, connected nearly 4,000 villages to the Internet and has helped to transform rural life. One small company, Jinmao Co. Ltd. In Wang Zhuang Village, was founded with the equivalent of US$62 in 1984 to manufacture manual agricultural tools. After setting up a Web site in 1996, the company began receiving orders from throughout China and expanded its products to include painting, cleaning, gardening and other tools. Their products are now available in five of the six biggest furniture chains in China, and the company's sales have reached US$18 million.
Online Government, Health Care and Customs
Tianjin's e-government programs have focused in increasing efficiency, improving connectedness and centralizing information on residents. To date, the city has implemented 600 e-government applications, including public finance, taxation, city planning, housing, commerce, education and justice. Proposed government policies are posted to the Web so that citizens can offer comments before the policy is implemented. Over 250 departments use the network for internal management. The broadband network also links the city’s 210 hospitals and clinics, and an online payment system settles almost all healthcare charges. A Distance Tax Collection System allows taxpayers to check their accounts and make payments online, while a Port Information System expedites customs clearances for ships' cargos in Tianjin's port. Cash transactions are gradually being replaced by three network-access cards – bank, bus and social security – that residents use to manage their financial and transportation needs.
In China, a Resident Registration System controls internal travel and residency. Tianjin recently introduced a second-generation system designed to reduce the inconvenience to residents of re-registering at district offices whenever they change housing. The former manual process, requiring visits to multiple offices, has been reduced by data networking to a single visit.
50% of Total Exports from Technology Sector
The city's latest project is the Digital City industrial park, designed as a home for China's fast-growing software, electronics, biotech and new-energy industries. Now under construction on 10 km2 (3.8 sq. miles) of land, the new park will become home to a sector that saw a 32% increase in total revenues from 2003 to 2005 and which now produces 50% of the city's exports.
The pace of Tianjin's transformation is set by many factors, from the sheer scale of effort required to have an impact on its large, urban-rural population to the willingness of the central government in Beijing to embrace change. Measured by how far it has come in a short time, Tianjin is a notable success. Measured against the scale of its ambitions, the city still has far to go.
Labor Force: 5,500,000
Top7 2005 | 2006
The Sunshine Coast is a metropolitan area that spreads across 2,291 square kilometers of Australia’s coastline about 100 kilometers north of Brisbane. A sub-tropical paradise of beautiful beaches and scenic mountains, the Coast has experienced boom times and almost doubled its population since the 1980s from tourism and retirement relocation, which drove the growth of construction and retailing. But the ebbing of the commodities boom that fueled Australia’s economy has revealed the fragility of the local economy.
Sunshine Coast Council worked with leading business, industry and the Queensland Government to develop the Regional Economic Development Strategy 2013-2033 which provides a 20-year vision and blueprint for sustainable economic growth to transition its economy from the challenging times experienced as a result of volatile global financial conditions to a new and more diverse, adaptable, robust and vibrant economy.
And yet, the future looks bright on the Sunshine Coast. The region has averaged 2.7% annual growth over the last decade, making it one of the fastest growing areas in Australia and is independently ranked as the second strongest performing economy in the state of Queensland.
Its economy continues to evolve into a modern, smart economy based on sound growth across numerous high value and knowledge-based industries including professional business services, innovative manufacturing and numerous high-tech start-ups.
Speed It Up Program
The Sunshine Coast government introduced the “Speed It Up” campaign in 2016. The campaign is designed to spread knowledge of the benefits of high-speed Internet access as well as how to obtain it. As part of the campaign, Digital Sunshine Coast has partnered with a variety of telecommunications providers in the area to display coverage maps of business grade broadband availability on its website (digitalsunshinecoast.com.au). The site also provides a free Wi-Fi Locations tool for residents to find sites with public Internet access. Finally, the Digital Sunshine Coast website includes as Want Faster Internet page with a short survey that residents can take to tell the government more about their Internet needs. The website experienced an average of 1000 page views per month in 2016, with hundreds of submissions on the Speed It Up and Want Faster Internet pages. The city council then used the data gathered to negotiate better coverage areas with local telecommunications providers.
Based on the data gathered by the Speed It Up campaign, the city has installed 260 free public Wi-Fi access points in more than 45 locations throughout the city as part of the Sunshine Coast WiFi Network. With the new Wi-Fi availability, the Sunshine Coast has set up beacons to provide localized information for the community and visitors, including guided walks and art sculpture and restaurant locations. The free Sunshine Coast Council app allows anyone connected to the public Wi-Fi to access this information as well as pre-order food and drinks at the stadium, book restaurants and obtain event guides. The Council has also developed a disaster hub that may be accessed through the app or via the web to provide safety information, important warnings and breaking news in the event of a local emergency.
The Sunshine Coast WiFi Network also has IoT applications. Data collected from public WiFi usage statistics has been used by Council, Chambers of Commerce and local businesses to inform decision making and optimize services provided to the community. The Sunshine Coast Stadium uses the public WiFi network to advertize event food and beverage offers to the crowd, and Downtown Caloundra uses smart WiFi data to determine the success of events in attracting people to the local shopping area. Free public WiFi in key visitor destinations also aids in increasing user generated content about the region on social media and travel sites, improving the Sunshine Coast’s appeal to tourists.
From 2020, the Sunshine Coast will deliver the fastest telecommunications connection to Asia from Australia's east coast and the second fastest to the US through a new 550km submarine optic fibre cable which now connects to the 9600km Japan-Guam-Australia submarine cable. Construction of a cable landing station was completed in September 2019 and the submarine cable landed on the Sunshine Coast on December 23, 2019.
Engaging the Next Generation Workforce
As of 2016, the Sunshine Coast has lowered its youth unemployment rate to only 5.4% with a series of programs and initiatives. The city held its first ever Job Show in August 2015, showcasing current and upcoming job vacancies throughout the Sunshine Coast. More than 2000 people participated in the Job Show, including 62 of the Sunshine Coast’s largest public- and private-sector employers. The Show also featured workshops by industry professionals to educated job seekers about the knowledge and skills they will need to enter those industries. The Job Show has become an annual event in years following due to its success.
The Sunshine coast hosted the Future Careers+ 2025 Expo in 2016, 2017 and 2018, providing a wealth of information on careers in technology and innovation as well as the education pathways required for them. More than 60 exhibitors showcased products and prototypes at the expo with 1,600 students, parents and educators attending. After the expo, the Future Careers content was serialized in magazine form and distributed to 60,000 homes in the city. The city also hosted its first CoderDojo in June of 2014. CoderDojo is a global collaboration that provides free learning to young people, particularly in the area of programming technology. The Sunshine Coast CoderDojo covers a wide variety of topics including basic web, app, and game development. While the first CoderDojo was held at the Institute of Professional Learning, in subsequent years the program has been expanded to three Sunshine Coast libraries due to its popularity.
TAFE (Technical and Further Education) Queensland East Coast is a program that offers entry-level skill sets and certificates as well as high-level diplomas and bachelor degrees. The majority of TAFE courses combine classroom learning with job placements with local employers to enable students to experience hands-on learning in a real-world environment. TAFE courses are available to high school students in year 11 and 12 and provide certifications as well as qualifications for post-secondary education requirements. The program also serves those looking to change or improve their careers through new skills and licenses or university course work. TAFE also has a dedicated apprenticeship program that combines structured and workplace training with paid employment.
In addition to training programs, the Sunshine Coast has offered a series of innovation-focused programs over the past several years. These programs include the Mayor’s Telstra Innovation Awards, Startup Weekend, and the Generation Innovation Challenge. All three programs feature youth entrepreneurs with innovative ideas, providing a platform for students to share their ideas with potential employers across the Sunshine Coast. RoboCoast is a hub of state and private schools promoting robotics and coding through student training days, visits and a range of fun robotics competitions.
Building an Innovation Hub in Australia
Between 2014 and 2016, the Sunshine Coast has grown from having only 1 innovation center and public co-working space to 7 co-working spaces, a new business incubator and 5 coding programs. The city council has taken a leading role in digital engagement to make this possible, including setting up the Entrepreneurship Ecosystem mapping project to coordinate and grow the local network of co-working spaces and programs. The map shows budding entrepreneurs where they can find support and resources from the government and business community as they start their businesses and provides an easy way for businesses to communicate and collaborate throughout the region. In 2019, due to growing demand, the ecosystem expanded from 7 to 10 co-working clusters hosting a total of 76 organizations, programs and activities.
The Innovation Centre Sunshine Coast (ICSC), established in 2002 as a wholly owned subsidiary of the University of the Sunshine Coast, serves as central hub for startups in the city with dedicated facilities, a prototyping lab, powerful online platforms, grants and seed funding connections and readily available mentors for new startup companies. Over 50 businesses are located at the Innovation Centre as of 2019, and more than 260 have graduated from startup incubator and accelerator programs since the center’s establishment with 89% still operating successfully. The Innovation Centre is the longest-running business incubator and accelerator of its kind in the region.
The Sunshine Coast Regional Innovation Program (SCRIPT) is a collaboration of local entrepreneurs, businesses, government stakeholders and community members designed to grow innovation and business capacity on the Sunshine Coast. SCRIPT is investing over AUD $1 million in collaborative activities and supporting entrepreneurs and innovators in bringing their ideas to commercial fruition. The program focuses on grassroots projects that help to connect, educate and inspire the Sunshine Coast community. In 2018 and 2019, SCRIPT has funded six projects and coordinated #TeamSunshineCoast at the influential innovation and entrepreneurship conference Myriad Festival in 2018. SCRIPT also hosted a 12-week startup onramp training and mentoring program for first-time startup founders in August and September of 2018. The onramp training program provided skills and guidance for launching tech and other startups successfully and on a global scale.
The Sunshine Coast Council has also served as an advocate and facilitator for the Smart Centre, which is a public shop front in the city. The area serves as a testing ground for Smart City technologies to enhance community education and stimulate ideas on adaptation and growth. The government has provided free Wi-Fi in 45 public areas as part of this effort to help gather data on movements and usage.
Sunshine Powers the Sunshine Coast
The 15 megawatt Sunshine Coast Solar Farm was completed in 2017, making the Sunshine Coast Council Australia’s first local government to offset 100% of its electricity consumption across all of its facilities and operations with green energy. These facilities include administration buildings, swimming pools, performance venues, community centers, libraries, and recreation facilities throughout the city. The Sunshine Coast Solar Farm is the only city-council-owned solar farm in Queensland and the first grid-connected, utility-scale facility of its kind in Australia. The solar farm is expected to save the city approximately $22 million over the next 30 years due to the council’s lower electricity costs. As of its first few years of operation, the Sunshine Coast Solar Farm reduced local government energy costs by AUD $2 million between 2017 and 2019.
The Sunshine Coast has one of the largest rooftop solar uptakes of any local government area in Australia, with 41% of dwellings choosing to harness the sun: 49,900 solar PV rooftops (equivalent to 183MW capacity). In April 2019, the urban centre of Caloundra was named one of the top five rooftop solar postcodes in Australia. In August 2018, the city council began installing 30 kilowatts of solar panels to the roof of the Nambour waste transfer station, further expanding its rooftop solar program and building on the success of the Sunshine Coast Solar Farm. Four of the council’s eight waste transfer stations already feature rooftop solar installations, with arrays added to Buderim, Witta and Beerwah early in 2019. The Sunshine Coast also added 60KW of solar power across Nambour and Caloundra during the 2018-2019 financial year.
The Sunshine Coast expects its population to nearly double again over the next two decades, but that growth will be based on a diversified, digitally-powered economy ready for 21st Century success.
Smart21 2014 | 2015 | 2017 | 2018 | 2019 | 2020 | 2021
Top7 2019 | 2020