2021 Top7 Virtual Conference and Announcement


About the Event:

Each year, the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) runs an annual Awards Program, culminating with one community being named the world’s most Intelligent Community. This process started with the announcement of the Smart21 Communities of the Year in February - the semi-finalists for the awards. The process now continues with the naming of the Top7 Intelligent Communities of 2021 - the finalists in this year's Intelligent Community Awards Program. 

We invite you to join us for this engaging & compelling virtual event and take advantage of the opportunity to network with business, government and non-profit delegates from across the globe who have adopted smart technologies in communities to solve problems and to innovate ways of doing business. Whether you are a civic leader, industry stakeholder, investor, community advocate, or business colleague, there is a value-proposition for you to attend this inclusive, forward-thinking, educational virtual conference.

Conference Theme: Recovery to Prosperity

The COVID-19 pandemic presented a disruption unseen in modern history. Our economies, our social lives, and the very fabric of our cultures were thrown upside down, almost overnight. 

Some communities, though, were more ready than others to face the challenges of the pandemic. Communities that have the connectivity infrastructure so that staying home doesn’t mean shutting down. Communities that were able to transition their children to virtual learning so that their education continued. Communities that were able to connect the sick and their elderly to doctors through telemedicine. Communities that were able to deliver services to their citizens through e-services, online portals, and other remote options. Communities that were able to effectively communicate to their citizens for testing and vaccination efforts. Communities that followed the ICF Method

But what comes next? How are these communities preparing for life in the new normal of a post-COVID world? By following the Method.

With this conference, we look at the lessons learned from the past year, and learn why intelligent communities around the world are ready to put themselves in a position for not only recovery, but prosperity.

Archive Now Available

You are welcome to watch the archive videos below from the event. If you have any questions, please email Matthew Owen at [email protected]

Conference Agenda

Day 1: Leadership in the Digital Age - Monday, 28 June

Leadership, Social Media and Building Trust

11:00am EST – Conference Opening

Welcome from the ICF Co-Founders, and a breakdown of how the events unique networking structure will work.

Speakers Include:

  • Robert Bell, Co-Founder, Intelligent Community Forum
  • John Jung, Co-Founder, Intelligent Community Forum
  • Louis Zacharilla, Co-Founder, Intelligent Community Forum

RobertBell.jpg     JohnJung.jpg     LouZacharilla.jpg

11:10am EST – Networking Break

Icebreaker Session. Groups split into breakout rooms, invited to introduce themselves as they will be meeting in this group throughout the day

11:25am EST – Presentation: Leadership in a Time of Crisis

Mayors and city leaders from Intelligent Communities join to discuss COVID and their community responses, and how they can move forward.

Speakers include:

  • Mayor Fred EisenbergerCity of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  • Robert Bell, Co-Founder, Intelligent Community Forum

Fred_Eisenberger.jpg     RobertBell.jpg


12:10pm EST – Social Media as a Two-Way Street

A discussion how social media can be used not only to communicate with citizens, but to measure sentiment and learn about current demeanor in your communities.

Speakers include:

  • Doug McCollough, CEO, Color Coded Labs and CIO, City of Dublin, Ohio, USA
  • Lou Zacharilla, Co-Founder, Intelligent Community Forum




12:45pm EST – Networking Break

Discussion Questions:

  • What social media methods have been useful for your community?
  • What information about your citizens would you like to be able to discern from social media usage?

1:00pm EST – Session: How Community Leaders Can Promote Information – and Stop Misinformation

A discussion on how community leaders can use social media to effectively communicate with their constituents, both during normal times and in times of crisis. Also discussed will be how to combat and navigate through misinformation that may be circulating in difficult times.

Speakers include:

  • Nichola Derksen, Social Media & Digital Marketing Consultant
  • Cassio Ferreira, Public Relations Director of the Curitiba City Hall
  • Matthew Owen, Director of Operations, Intelligent Community Forum (Moderator)




1:30pm EST – Closing

Speakers Include:

  • John Jung, Co-Founder, Intelligent Community Forum


1:35pm EST – Networking Break

Discussion Questions:

  • How did your community handle communications with citizens throughout the COVID crisis?
  • Did you struggle with misinformation – and how did you combat it?

1:45pm EST – End of Day 1

Day 2: Taking Care of your Citizens - Tuesday, 29 June

Education, Healthcare and the Elderly

11:00am EST – Welcome Back

Speakers Include:

  • Robert Bell, Co-Founder, Intelligent Community Forum
  • John Jung, Co-Founder, Intelligent Community Forum
  • Louis Zacharilla, Co-Founder, Intelligent Community Forum

RobertBell.jpg     JohnJung.jpg     LouZacharilla.jpg

11:05am EST – Networking Break

Icebreaker Session. Groups split into breakout rooms, invited to introduce themselves as they will be meeting in this group throughout the day

11:15am EST – Panel: Aging in Place: Seniors are the New Millennials

Thought leaders share innovations in providing information and services to seniors who are now more connected than ever. Moderated by ICF Co-Founder John Jung.

Speakers Include:

  • Matt Hexemer, Executive Design Director, Huge Inc., Toronto, Canada and New York City, USA
  • Saya Kim, Researcher, Institute without Boundaries
  • Irina Kondrashova, VP, Strategy, Huge Inc., London, UK
  • John Jung, Co-Founder, Intelligent Community Forum (Moderator)



11:45am EST – Networking Break

Discussion Questions:

  • Have you been challenged providing services to the elderly in your community, particularly in the time of COVID-19 and the isolation it caused?
  • What lessons have you learned in the past year and a half that you will take with you even as life returns to normal?

12:00pm EST – Panel: Intelligent Healthcare Solutions: Innovations in products – and delivery – of healthcare services during COVID-19

ICF Director of Operations Matthew Owen discusses rural healthcare, challenges faced by smaller hospitals, and how communities can work better with their healthcare providers with Pat Schou of the Illinois Critical Access Network, and then takes a look at some of the healthcare innovations coming out of Taiwan with ICF Taiwan's Phoebe Tseng.

Speakers include:

  • Pat Schou, Executive Director, Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network
  • Phoebe Tseng, Project Manager, ICF Taiwan & Smart City Development Project Office, IDB/MOEA
  • Matthew Owen, Director of Operations, Intelligent Community Forum (Moderator)



12:40pm EST – Networking Break

Discussion Questions:

  • Do your citizens have access to telemedicine?
  • Did your community government collaborate with your local hospitals and healthcare providers through the challenges of COVID?
  • How can you work to connect your citizens with healthcare services available to them?

1:00pm EST – Panel: Developing Our Most Precious Resource: Education in Intelligent Communities

Academic experts look at the lessons learned from the remote education undertaken in many places during the COVID-19 pandemic, discuss the potential of remote learning’s future applications, and discuss the changing landscape of curriculum to prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s challenges.

Speakers Include:

  • Dr. Kristen Wilcox, Associate Professor, Educational Policy and Leadership, University at Albany
  • Dr. David Staley, Associate Professor and Director of the Humanities Institute, The Ohio State University
  • Dr. Norman Jacknis, Senior Fellow, Intelligent Community Forum (Moderator)




1:30pm EST – Closing

Brief closing from an ICF Co-Founder, previews of tomorrow’s sessions, send to networking break.

Speakers Include:

  • Robert Bell, Co-Founder, Intelligent Community Forum


1:35pm EST – Networking Break

Discussion Questions:

  • What was your biggest challenge with education during the pandemic?
  • Has your community started any new practices that will be continued as life returns to normal?

1:45pm EST – End of Day 2


Day 3: Is the Future Now? - Wednesday, 30 June

11:00am EST – Welcome Back

Speakers Include:

  • Robert Bell, Co-Founder, Intelligent Community Forum
  • John Jung, Co-Founder, Intelligent Community Forum
  • Louis Zacharilla, Co-Founder, Intelligent Community Forum

RobertBell.jpg     JohnJung.jpg     LouZacharilla.jpg

11:05am EST – Networking Break

Icebreaker Session. Groups split into breakout rooms, invited to introduce themselves as they will be meeting in this group throughout the day

11:25am EST – Panel: Is it already 2031?

A panel of “futurists” discussing education, healthcare, and the idea of what a “community” will be in 2031 - and how these changes have been accelerated during the time of COVID-19.

Speakers Include:

  • Joost Helms, Director, Eindhoven International Project Office
  • Dr. Rick Huijbregts, Vice-President, Strategy & Innovation, George Brown College 
  • Louis Zacharilla, Co-Founder, Intelligent Community Forum (Moderator)

     Huijbregts.png     LouZacharilla.jpg


12:00pm EST – Networking Break

Discussion Questions:

  • Where do you see your community going in 10 years?
  • What changes do you hope to see?
  • What do you see as your community’s toughest roadblock preventing change?

12:10pm EST – Workshop: Preparing for the future with the ICF Method

Led by Robert Bell, this brief overview of the ICF Method shares insights and best practices learned from intelligent communities that are on the path to prosperity.

Speakers Include:

  • Robert Bell, Co-Founder, Intelligent Community Forum
  • Erin BenderExecutive Director, The Point at Otterbein University
  • Joost Helms, Director, Eindhoven International Project Office
  • Rob McCann, Founder, Clearcable Networks; President, Hamilton Technology Centre 

RobertBell.jpg     Mandy_Bishop_square_headshot.jpg          

Note: The archive video from this session is available exclusively to ICF Members. 
Learn more about membership here: https://www.intelligentcommunity.org/connect_with_communities

1:10pm EST – Final Networking Break

Discussion Questions:

  • Which factor in the ICF method to you think is your community’s biggest strength? Which is its biggest weakness? Why?
  • What other reflections can you share from the sessions from this event?

1:25pm EST – Conference Closing and Top7 Communities of 2021 Announcement

Hosted by the three ICF Co-Founders, closing thoughts from the conference, a look at this year’s Smart21 of 2021, and the announcement of the Top7 Intelligent Communities of 2021.

Speakers Include:

  • Robert Bell, Co-Founder, Intelligent Community Forum
  • John Jung, Co-Founder, Intelligent Community Forum
  • Louis Zacharilla, Co-Founder, Intelligent Community Forum

RobertBell.jpg     JohnJung.jpg     LouZacharilla.jpg

About the Speakers

RobertBell.jpgRobert Bell
Co-Founder, Intelligent Community Forum

Robert Bell is co-founder of the Intelligent Community Forum, where he heads its research, analysis and content development activities. He directs the multi-stage analysis of communities for the annual Intelligent Community Awards program and authors the in-depth profiles of the Smart21 and Top7 Intelligent Communities that are core to ICF's mission.

Serving as the content lead for ICF's annual Summit in New York City, Robert is the author of ICF's founding study, Benchmarking the Intelligent Community. He has contributed articles to The Municipal Journal of Telecommunications Policy, IEDC Journal, Telecommunications, Asia-Pacific Satellite and Asian Communications; and has appeared in segments of ABC World News and The Discovery Channel. A frequent keynote speaker and moderator at municipal and telecom industry events, he has also led economic development missions and study tours to cities in Asia and the US. More


Mandy_Bishop_square_headshot.jpgErin Bender
Executive Director, The Point at Otterbein University

Erin Bender is founding Executive Director of The Point at Otterbein University – a new collaboration, education and innovation center made possible by public officials at all levels of government, local business and community leaders, public schools, and creative faculty and students at Otterbein. It’s offers student-centered collaboration and cross-disciplinary, high-impact learning that bridges learning with doing, students with professionals, in one shared space at 60 Collegeview Road, west of Otterbein’s main campus. It is a conduit between abstract learning and concrete practice, blurring the lines between time spent in school and time building a career. As a result, it prepares students for success in a new economy.

Bender came to Otterbein after working at OSU, where she held various positions within the Office of Technology Commercialization. The office facilitates the transfer of university research to licensees for development of new products and services that benefit the public good, foster economic growth and generate revenue. Her past roles with the office include associate director, senior licensing officer and licensing associate. Prior to joining OSU, Bender was an associate at Kremblas, Foster, Phillips & Pollick, a boutique intellectual property law firm that serves small enterprises, large corporations, individual inventors, universities and research institutions. She also worked as a legal assistant at the Chemical Abstracts Service, a division of the American Chemical Society.

In 2006, her family established C.A.B.B. Farms, LLC, a 65-acre family farm in Lexington, Ohio, that specializes in natural grass-fed and finished Angus cattle and hay production.


Joost Helms
Co-Director, Binh Doung Smart City Office; Director, Eindhoven International Projects Office

Joost Helms is director of the Eindhoven International Project Office (EIPO), guiding and supporting regions and cities around the world on Triple Helix collaboration, Smart Cities and socio-economic development strategies. He also chairs the Eindhoven Academy, institute for education and training focusing on successful collaboration in the Brainport Eindhoven ecosystem.

With EIPO, Mr. Helms is working closely together with Binh Duong province (Vietnam) on implementing Binh Duong’s new socio-economic development strategy as co-director of the Binh Duong Smart Region project office.

He graduated Eindhoven University of Technology in Chemical Engineering in 1996, gained 10 years of experience as an entrepreneur and has been in politics for another 10 years. He served as Vice Mayor of the City of Eindhoven when his city was awarded ICF Intelligent Community of the Year in 2011. Like no other, he understands the differences in motives, interests and processes of the different partners within Triple Helix collaborative ecosystems.


Matt Hexemer 
Executive Design Director, Huge Inc., Toronto, Canada and New York City, USA

Matt is the Executive Design Director for Physical Design at Huge Inc. where he connects vision to execution for intelligent products and environments. Matt has been applying design thinking methods and building multi-disciplinary design teams for over 20 yrs, working with brands like Nike, Google, and Proctor & Gamble to reimagine products, services, retail and workplace experiences.

Matt is also responsible for launching over 100 consumer products to market for brands like Kobo-Rakuten, Land Rover, and Canadian Tire Corp. He has been awarded over thirty patents and design awards. Always insightful and dedicated to the end user, Matt is at his best when connecting the dots between experience, technology, and people.


Huijbregts.pngDr. Rick Huijbregts
Vice-President, Strategy & Innovation, George Brown College 

As Vice-President, Strategy & Innovation, Dr. Rick Huijbregts oversees strategic planning and partnership development to ensure George Brown College remains well positioned to evolve and adapt for the digital and rapidly changing future. He strives to advance community and industry innovation while providing students with relevant and hands-on learning opportunities through applied research and entrepreneurship.

Rick is responsible for shaping George Brown’s vision for 2030 and developing the corresponding business strategy. He leads the Registrar's Office, Marketing and Recruitment, Publishing, and the International Centre. Rick is also responsible for Alumni Relations, Applied Research, Capital Planning, Entrepreneurship, Facilities Management, Institutional Research, and Strategic Partnerships.

Among his many career accomplishments so far, Rick spent 12 years with Cisco, most recently as Vice-President of Digital Transformation and Innovation at Cisco Canada. He was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 for his transformational work in municipal innovation in Canada. Rick is still also a frequent speaker and thought leader in matters of innovation, digital transformation, and Smart Cities and serves on various Smart City advisory boards such as Toronto, Markham, and Vaughan. Rick is a faculty at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design Executive Education where he focuses on Smart Cities, Smart Buildings, and Digital Transformation.

Before moving into his current role, Rick was an Executive-in-Residence at George Brown and Chair of the Building Automation Program Advisory Committee. In honour of his many contributions to the college, in 2017 he was granted an honorary Honours Bachelor of Technology (Construction Management).

As VP, Digital Transformation and Innovation at Cisco Canada, Rick engaged in digitization and business development in many sectors, including education, health care, oil and gas, financial services and real estate. Prior to his VP role, Rick was General Manager for Cisco Canada's Smart + Connected Communities practice and he was Managing Director Americas, Internet of Everything (IoT) and Industry Solutions Acceleration. Before his time at Cisco, he was the Executive Director of the Center for Design Informatics at the Harvard Design School and was co-founder and CEO at Edificium, an internet-based construction collaboration platform.

Rick holds a Doctorate from Harvard University Graduate School of Design, a Master’s of Science from Delft University, and a Bachelor’s degree in Construction Management from the Tilburg Polytechnics College in the Netherlands.


JohnJung.jpgJohn G. Jung
Co-Founder, Intelligent Community Forum

ICF co-founder John G. Jung originated the Intelligent Community concept and continues to serve as the Forum's leading visionary. Formerly President and CEO of the Greater Toronto Marketing Alliance, Calgary Economic Development Authority and Canada’s Technology Triangle, he is a registered professional urban planner, urban designer and economic developer. He leads regular international business missions to US, European, Asian, Indian and Australian cities, and originated the ICF Immersion Lab program. John is a regular speaker at universities and conferences and serves as an advisor to regional and national leaders on Intelligent Community development.

He has also given presentations to Prime Ministers, Presidents and Royalty around the world. As one of the Co-authors of Brain Gain and other books and publications on Smart Cities and Intelligent Communities, John was a featured speaker at the Ottawa Writer’s Festival. He is also the author of numerous articles in planning and economic development journals, has received global awards, honorary degrees and other recognition for his work in urban planning, urban design, economic development and related collaboration and strategic development initiatives around the world. He also sits on numerous boards, task forces and international advisory boards. More


Saya Kim
Researcher, Institute without Boundaries

Saya is an interdisciplinary design researcher and strategist. She obtained her B.A. Hons. at Queen’s University as a Philosophy major and a Political Science minor, along with a Certificate in Business. She also holds a Postgraduate Certificate in Interdisciplinary Design Strategy from the Institute without Boundaries, and is currently undertaking a Masters in Design for Change at IDAT.

Applying her understanding of social systems and behaviours to systems and design thinking, Saya enjoys synthesizing through complexities, and aims to design social innovations. Over the past year, Saya has been part of a team researching the needs and challenges of older adults and caregivers in reimagining the future of living and aging in place in Canada; leading the research and the publication of key findings and insights.


Irina Kondrashova
VP, Strategy, Huge Inc., London, UK

Irina Kondrashova leads the global strategy practice for one of Huge's largest and longest standing clients, Google, focused on product and web design. Prior to Huge, Irina spent 3+ years leading brand and marketing strategy at Uber, responsible for improving brand reputation, increasing Uber’s share of consumer travel, building go-to-market plans for new products and services, and growing overall demand for Uber products. Before joining Uber, Irina has held a number of leadership roles across agencies such as R/GA, where she led product and communications strategy for McDonald's and Emirates, and McCann, where she was responsible for building the agency's digital capabilities and leading planning for clients like MasterCard, Pandora, and Coca-Cola. Previous to this, Kondrashova worked at 360i in North America holding positions within research and strategy, ultimately moving to London as part of the leadership team in Europe.


Rob McCann
Founder, Clearcable Networks and President, Hamilton Technology Centre

Rob McCann is the founder of Clearcable Networks and President of the Hamilton Technology Centre. He has been working with advanced broadband service deployments in mid-market and rural cable and telephone systems since 1998. He is responsible for building and maintaining technical, network, and application intelligence. Rob works closely with several carriers, cable systems, municipalities, and network service providers in Canada, the US, and the Caribbean providing them with the technology, integration, and business practices required to effectively operate voice, video, and data services in the changing broadband service provider industry.

Rob’s active projects include work with ICF recognized Intelligent Communities by chairing the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce Digital Infrastructure Working Group and providing technical insight to Municipal Broadband networks including ICF recognized Sarnia’s Bluewater Regional Network and Newmarket’s ENVI Network. He was named the Canadian Independent Telephone Association’s 2016 Supplier of the Year and holds degrees in Mathematics from the University of Waterloo and Economics from McMaster University.


Doug McCollough
CIO, City of Dublin, Ohio, USA

As CIO of the City of Dublin, Ohio, Doug McCollough has worked to connect people to opportunities, and promote change in initiatives ranging from Smart and Connected Cities, IT Workforce Development, expanding broadband access, Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, and Blockchain in Government. He speaks and advises as a Subject Matter Expert and advocate on technical subjects, diversity, equity, inclusion, and using technology for economic development.

Doug has held positions within the State of Ohio Departments of Public Safety, Commerce, Industrial Commission, and Medicaid. He served as the Director of Information Technology for the City of Richmond, Virginia. He is on the boards of Per Scholas Columbus, TECH CORPS, Black Tech Columbus, and Jewish Family Services of Columbus. He Chairs the Data Policy Needs Survey & Toolkit Working Group within the Mid Ohio Regional Planning Commission and serves on the Advisory Boards for the Center for Public Safety & Cyber Security Education (CPSCE) at Franklin University, the IT Cloud/Cluster Advisory Committee for Western Governors University, and the Department of Engineering Education at the Ohio State University.


LouZacharilla.jpgLouis Zacharilla
Co-Founder, Intelligent Community Forum

Louis Zacharilla helped found the Intelligent Community movement. He is the developer of the Top7 and Intelligent Community of the Year Awards programs and guides the strategy for the New York-based think tank’s programs. Mr. Zacharilla oversees the development of institutes for the Intelligent Community Forum. He is a frequent keynote speaker and a moderator at global conferences and events. He appears regularly in the media to discuss what ICF calls "the new Renaissance" within the world's communities.

Mr. Zacharilla is co-author of the books Brain GainBroadband Economies: Building the Community for the 21st Century and Seizing Our Destiny. His articles, opinion pieces and blogs appear in publications worldwide, including Canada, Sweden, the United States, and Australia. His work was the subject of a multi-part series in Taiwan's Ideas Magazine and his views were quoted in the influential 2012 World Wealth Report. He has been the subject of interview for in the Financial Times of London and VICE.com. He authors a blog, "Community as Canvas," and is regular contributor to Satellite Executive Briefing, Digital Communities, Mayors & Cities and Public Sector Digest. More

June 28, 2021 at 11:00am - June 30, 2021 | Eastern Time (US & Canada)
Online Event
Matthew Owen ·

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