New York, New York – January 22, 2015 - The Intelligent Community Forum announced the Top7 Intelligent Communities of 2015 earlier today in an online event hosted by Finland’s former Minister of Communications, Suvi Linden. The Top7 list included cities and towns from 5 different nations, three communities from the United States, one from Australia, one from Brazil, one from Canada, and one from Taiwan.
In alphabetical order, the 2015 Top7 Intelligent Communities are:
- Arlington County, Virginia, USA
- Columbus, Ohio, USA
- Ipswich, Queensland, Australia
- Mitchell, South Dakota, USA
- New Taipei City, Taiwan
- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
- Surrey, British Columbia, Canada
According to the New York-based think tank, which has been naming the world’s most Intelligent Community of the Year since it named Singapore in 1999, Canada and Taiwan continue to reach the group’s Top7 regularly. The list also includes two American communities (Columbus and Arlington County), which were on the list in 2014 as well.
“ICF and our Foundation members worldwide congratulate the new Top7. This group represents a range of different approaches and planning strategies,” said ICF co-founder Louis Zacharilla. “Each is ‘revolutionary’ in its own way, and each has planned its future in a way that is consistent with its cultural identity, while using universally available digital tools and broadband technology. As we have seen each year, cities, towns and regions that continue to work with these tools and concepts transform themselves from ‘smart’ to ‘intelligent,’ which is how real sustainable growth and investment will arrive."
Following are profiles of the accomplishments for each 2015 Top7 Intelligent Community, as established using the Intelligent Community Forum’s Community Indicators of success:
- Arlington County, Virginia, USA: Appearing for the third time as a Top7 Intelligent Community, Arlington has used smart planning to leverage the benefits of its location near Washington, DC. Arlington looks to continue its growth into the future with its Telecom Master Plan, the innovative work being done at Virginia Tech and The Arlington Way, a formal structure of more than 40 citizen advisory groups and commissions, which influence decisions on everything from land use to technology, and intense collaboration among government, business and the nonprofit sector to spur innovation.
- Columbus, Ohio, USA: On the Top7 Intelligent Communities of the Year list for the third year in a row, Columbus has the highest metropolitan concentration of Fortune 1000 companies in the USA. Columbus aims to overcome its biggest challenge – a large, low-income population stranded by the decline of low-skilled factory employment – with programs increasing collaboration among government, education, business and institutions. Columbus is now one of a handful of US metros that turned a continuous and persistent period of brain drain into brain gain in 2007-2009. Employment growth in skilled manufacturing has exceeded 35% over the past decade. And in 2013, Columbus was named one of the top 10 cities in the US for new college grads.
- Ipswich, Queensland, Australia: Ipswich is appearing on the Top7 Intelligent Communities of the Year list for the first time. In 2011, Ipswich published a 20-year economic development plan designed to combat its challenges and prepare for the ones to come. When the Australian government’s National Broadband Network was announced in 2009, Ipswich partnered with local communities to create what they called the Western Corridor National Broadband Network and attract national investment. A Digital Hub project and Digital Enterprise program are equipping citizens and business with digital skills, while Ipswich begins a major redevelopment of its city center, where digital technologies will be used to attract tenants and to improve public safety. Green standards will make the center one of the most sustainable in Australia.
- Mitchell, South Dakota, USA: Making its first appearance as a Top7 Intelligent Community of the Year, the rural community of Mitchell has been shaped by declining demand for employment in agriculture. A strategic plan developed in the late 1980s, named Vision 2000, called for a community-wide emphasis on education, healthcare, infrastructure and recreation. It led to the merger of two hospitals, creating a unified healthcare system that became the city’s biggest employer, and the construction of new schools that partnered with the local university and recreation center to advance educational excellence. Telecommunications development has created another economy on top of Mitchell’s agricultural one, consisting of engineering, consulting and software companies that have made Mitchell into a regional hub for expertise and services. ICF said it demonstrates the hope that broadband and new ideas in planning offer to rural communities and towns.
- New Taipei City, Taiwan: New Taipei City is appearing for the second consecutive year as a Top7 Intelligent Community – a feat all the more impressive because the city was only formed in 2010 from the county surrounding Taiwan’s capital city of Taipei. Mayor Eric Chu, the founding mayor of the city and a national political figure, set out to transform a loose collection of suburban cities and rural land into a unified metropolis. Massive investment went into high-speed roads and rails to unite the doughnut-shaped city, while broadband advances coupled with a Knowledge-Bridge project has driven industry-university collaboration projects and provided talent and job matchmaking.
- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Rio de Janeiro, a first time Top7 Intelligent Community of the Year, is a city as famous for its natural beauty and Carnival spirit as for its crime-plagued slums. But ambition, good luck and more innovative leadership have given the city a boost. Rio’s hosting of the 2014 World Cup, as well as winning the right to host the 2016 Summer Olympics, gave the city opportunities to revitalize itself, plan a range of future-centered activities, including a better transportation system and to deal with long-standing infrastructure problems. ICT programs such as The Knowledge Squares and The Rio Datamine have also helped Rio in it’s mission to create a future worthy of its nickname: Cidade Maravilhosa or the Marvelous City.
- Surrey, British Columbia, Canada: Surrey, another first-time Top7 Intelligent Community, is a city in transition from a suburban past in the shadow of Vancouver to a sustainable urban future. To gain greater control over its destiny, Surrey has developed a diversification strategy calling for deepening the partnership between its institutions of higher learning and local business. Development is focused on an Innovation Boulevard project, where the city, universities and business are building clusters in health technology, clean tech and advanced manufacturing. Overseeing the project is the Mayor’s Health Technology Working Group, comprised of 50 representatives from universities, a health authority, nonprofits, business associations, government and developers.
In order to qualify as a Top7 Intelligent Community, these cities and regions first needed to become an Intelligent Community Forum Smart21 Intelligent Community. The Smart21, named in October 2014, were chosen from hundreds of evaluated communities from around the world.
Candidates are evaluated based on the five Intelligent Community Indicators, which provide the conceptual framework for understanding all of the factors that determine a community's competitiveness and point to its success in what the Intelligent Community Forum calls, “The Broadband Economy.” In addition, the Intelligent Community Awards Program is guided by an annual theme, which in 2015 is The Revolutionary Community. This is an attempt to study and to have a global dialogue about urban and regional planning and how it is impacting the way people live, work and create in their cities and towns. The Intelligent Community Forum released a white paper discussing the theme, which can be downloaded here.
The Intelligent Community Forum Awards Program concludes in Toronto in June 2015 during the Intelligent Community Forum’s Annual Summit, where one of these Top7 Intelligent Communities will succeed Toronto, Ontario, Canada, as 2015 Intelligent Community of the Year. The announcement will be made live on 11 June.
NOTE: A video about the Top7 Intelligent Communities and the awards process is available for free and unrestricted use. Here is the link.
About Intelligent Community Forum
The Intelligent Community Forum (www.intelligentcommunity.org), headquartered in New York, is a global movement of 134 cities, towns and regions. As an international think tank and Foundation, ICF studies and promotes the best practices of the world's Intelligent Communities as they adapt to the new demands and seize the opportunities presented by information and communications technology (ICT). To help cities and towns build prosperous economies, solve social problems and enrich local cultures, the Intelligent Community Forum conducts research, hosts global events, publishes books, and produces its high-profile annual international awards program. The Forum has two Institutes in North America dedicated to the study of the movement, with more institutes planned. Global leaders, thinkers, and media observers follow and participate in the ongoing global dialogue initiated by the Intelligent Community Forum. In 2012 ICF was invited to participate at the Nobel Peace Prize conference in Oslo and in 2014, its model and work was recognized by the U.S. Department of Commerce under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which, according to the American government, was "aimed at creating a more flexible and responsive system of workforce development to meet the needs of employers looking to fill 21st century jobs.” The Forum’s Foundation has an association made up of 134 designated Intelligent Communities worldwide, which is represented by mayors and key civic leaders. For more information, go to www.icf-foundation.org. For more details on the Intelligent Community Forum’s recent publications and programs, www.intelligentcommunity.org
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