On October 27, a delegation from New Taipei City, Taiwan (which for the uninitiated is NOT Taipei) literally and metaphorically crossed the Bridge.
That afternoon, New Taipei City, along with members of the Top7 communities of the Year, walked toward the Scioto River in Central Ohio, through the streets of Dublin. Dublin is a testament to the concept of “New Urbanism” and a case study in political will and vision. We slowly came to the foot of the US$23 million Dublink Bridge, the largest “S” shaped walking bridge in North America. It is breathtakingly beautiful and the only bridge in North America – or the world – named after a fiber optic telecommunications network! A municipally built one at that.
It was the first time that New Taipei City and most of the Top7 and Summit delegates had seen or walked across this bridge. Along the bridge, we stopped periodically for a briefing on some aspect of the “Bridge District” by former Dublin, Ohio City Manager Dana McDaniel. It was part of the Day Two activities during ICF’s Summit. The network on the bridge on a pretty chilly day was heartwarming and classic ICF stuff.
Walking in the vital Bridge District of Dublin is a treat. It is the essence of modern America with its bustling clean commerce, quality of life and charming ease. McDaniel, like most others in the city, lives within walking distance of the city in which he works and serves. This is not typical in small city America.
Dublin, however, is not a typical small city, and it is not just a city on a slow walk. This city of 50,000 is owning the road in the Smart Mobility space. It is participating with the Ohio Smart Mobility Initiative as a partner in a consortium that includes the Ohio State University Center for Automotive Research, the Transportation Research Center of East Liberty, Ohio, the Ohio Department of Transportation, OARnet, the Ohio Super Computer, several automotive OEMs (Honda has a massive facility there) and the private sector on a project that aligns with the state’s Highway 33 Smart Mobility Corridor project and the nearby City of Columbus’s multiple “smart” projects. The consortium forms a single regional movement that has Dublin sprinting to the front of the pack in the race to become a global leader in Smart Mobility and related technology.
Then There Was That Other Bridge . . .
As happy as they were to be part of this outdoor learning tour, it probably did not compare to the way they felt during the second walk that New Taipei City took a few hours later. This time indoors. It was indoors that they took another first walk. This time, the setting was the spectacular State of Ohio Statehouse building in its capital city, Columbus. With leaders from the Ohio State government and State Senator Stephanie Kunz, as well as Dublin Mayor Jane Fox and other mayors and CIOs in attendance, New Taipei City crossed a new span of achievement. This bridge was also one that had been shaped first by a commitment to telecommunications and the smart use of IT.
New Taipei City, with the type of persistence an Ohio State football coach would love, had tried to become Intelligent Community of the Year four times. On this night in 2022 in the USA state which produced, among other things, the first human being to walk on the Moon (Neil Armstrong), they nailed their landing. At 8:25 PM Eastern Daylight Time, after the City of Winnipeg’s representatives opened the envelope and read their name, they achieved a big-time goal: Intelligent Community of the Year.
As I always do, I look out to see how the recipient is reacting. My eyes landed on Mr. Tseng Chao-Hsiung, Chief Secretary of Research for the Commission of New Taipei City government and the leader of the delegation to the ICF Summit this year. At his table with his delegation, he nearly burst with joy. He pumped his fists high in the air and then, trying to compose himself, sprinted with his delegation to the stage to accept the trophy from John Jung and Robert Bell as Intelligent Community of the Year. While his team was teary eyed with happiness, his remarks were gracious and what we have come to expect from Taiwan, whose cities have captured the award four times. They want cities across the world to work together for peace.
Cross the Dublink Bridge, the IC of the Year Threshold
Crossing the Scioto River and impressing the jury and analysts during the year-long ICF Awards process has similarities.
What struck everyone was how New Taipei City had, during the Summit, presented a laser-focused approach on what broadband and digital technology are REALLY all about. See https://youtu.be/C7A_ai6YFOA It is simple: they exist to enable the glory of the citizen. Period. End of story. Bring out the dumplings.
If cities want to cross the bridge from “smart” to Intelligent, they can follow NTC and, as Mr. Tseng and others have done, work each day (their words) “to relieve the burdens of living on our citizens.”
For more about the 2022 Intelligent Community of the Year: https://www.intelligentcommunity.org/new_taipei_city
Photo credits: Jewel Huang, Deloitte