So, The Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) is back with its leading 7 intelligent communities of the year 2020. Apart from the forum’s introduction during the 2018 Awards, it also conducts workshops, publishes research and hosts conferences. The goal is to produce a high-profile global awards program that enables cities to gain worldwide recognition. With that, cities also gain access to an international network of peer communities.
Each year, the awards program culminates at ICF’s Global Summit with the announcement of the ‘The Intelligent Community of the Year.’ This year, the theme of the program is ‘From Smart to Intelligent’ – the founding concept of ICF about cities.
Smart Cities To Intelligent Communities
What is a smart city? As per ICF, these are urban spaces where technology is applied to make operations work better, faster and cheaper. Its website says, ‘it is like automating a factory.’
However, cities are not aggregations of technology and infrastructure. They are home to human beings that live and breathe. A city’s life begins with its people. And with that perception, ICF believes being ‘smart’ is not nearly good enough. The true journey begins from becoming ‘smart to intelligent.’
To explain it more clearly, ICF gives an example of how smart cities tackle a problem. In a city, traffic research shows that 30% of vehicles in a densely populated CBD are looking for parking. Hence, if we decrease the time spent on searching, it should also mitigate congestion and air pollution. A smart city will define its requirements, provide an RFP, select vendors and deploy necessary technology. Now, the technology sends data to an app on phones that directs drivers where parking is available. Straight and smart.
On the other hand, ICF explains how an intelligent community tackles the same challenge. An intelligent community engages local education institutions, entrepreneurs and established companies as partners. In collaboration, they perform the planning and execution of an innovation project. They find out answers to the following. What can be sourced in the city? Where is the expertise that can help? And this also involves the participation of the public in helping determine how and where the innovation should take place. Or, whether the problem is really that big issue or not.
Precisely, intelligent communities choose a road that is more complex. But that road takes us to a destination that benefits ‘more’, saves ‘more’, and wastes ‘less’. More importantly, it leads ‘all’ to a new level of opportunities.
Leading 7 Intelligent Communities At A Glance
So, with the introduction of what exactly ‘intelligent community’ is we unveil the ‘Top 7’ in alphabetical order.
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
Adelaide is making its first appearance in the ‘Top 7 Intelligent Communities’ list. The Economist distinguishes the city as one of the most liveable cities in the world. It is home to 75% of the population in the state of South Australia. Housing affordability in the city is almost half of the average price of Sydney and two-thirds of Melbourne. This is supporting the growth of the economy conveniently impelled by government spending. Its Carbon Neutral Strategy intends to make the city world’s first to be certified as producing zero net carbon emissions by 2020. A Sustainability Incentives Scheme provides financial rebates to encourage the adoption of sustainable technologies. Until now, the program has provided $1 million in rebates to citizens and companies.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Hamilton has deployed a 10-gigabit fibre network which serves over 160 locations including businesses, universities, hospitals and other facilities. This is also an effort to attract employers to the region. A collaborative initiative called ‘Education City’ is working on making Hamilton a destination for academic success. Its public school system has made it compulsory for secondary school graduates to devote 40 hours to community-development work with local nonprofits. It is home to McMaster Innovation Park where startups gain access to resources to start tech businesses. With the participation of over 50,000 residents, the city created “Our Future Hamilton” vision setting priorities for a 10-year strategic plan. Besides, a Digital Office in the city focuses on enhancing the quality of life and digital transformation of government.
Hudson, Ohio, US
Hudson made it to the ‘Top 7’ list for the second time. The city comprises a highly educated population. 68% of residents of 25 years of age and above hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. Median household income of individuals is in the six figures. During Hudson’s submission to ICF, it presented strong community projects. These include the Hudson City School District’s Portrait of an Explorer and extensive training of students for 21st-century jobs. In addition, it also highlighted the new creativity lab built by Hudson Library & Historical Society. In order to encourage digital inclusion for all, the city has internet hotspots and life-learning opportunities. Besides, with the help of community engagement, the city is showing efforts to preserve and restore its historic buildings.
Markham, Ontario, Canada
Markham is making its debut in the Top 7 Intelligent Communities. The tech sector in the city is flourishing with hundreds of corporate head offices. There are over 1,000 high-tech and life science companies. With 80% of PC and device penetration, it is a leader in digital initiatives. It is showing progress in community support, digital training, collaboration, municipal services and more. 95% of the population in Markham has access to broadband. This benefited the city’s 2018 elections when voters were facilitated with the online voting initiative. This provided enhanced accessibility and convenience to voters like never before. People were able to vote anytime, anywhere using any mobile device or desktop.
Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia
Sunshine Coast is making its second appearance in the list. Its Regional Economic Development Strategy 2013-2033 outlines a 20-year vision and blueprint. With this, the economy is showing visible progress. It is witnessing growth across knowledge-based industries, professional businesses, innovative manufacturing and several high-tech startups. Free public WiFi in 45 locations across the city provides data to Council, Chambers of Commerce and local businesses. The data is then used to optimise services delivered to the citizens. Besides, rooftop solar installations are rising in the city. In April 2019, Caloundra urban centre was named one of the top five rooftop solar postcodes in Australia.
Tallinn is the only city making it to the Top 7 list for the sixth time. Its IT industry driven by national government spending is thriving. It provides a range of e-government applications. It has 23 universities and technical schools. The city is constantly focusing on expanding access and meeting the demands for ICT and digital content skills. Lately, Tallin in collaboration with technology university TalTech is working on a wide range of projects. This covers from deploying self-driving vehicles to using AI to design personal routes for tourists.
Westerville, Ohio, US
Westerville is also making the list for the second time. The city council has introduced ‘WeConnect’, an underground fibre network connected to a community-owned data centre. It delivers 100 Gbps connectivity to municipal service providers, educational institutions, businesses and research centres. 40 miles of the fibre network was already installed by 2018. In partnership with local businesses, the city spent more than 85% of the funds to create jobs that benefit the community. An advanced metering and online portal have been launched by Westerville. This platform enables consumers to monitor electric and water usage by the hour. Under Hour Rewards Program, consumers get rebates for adjusting their AC to better manage peak loads.
The interesting part is that these ‘Intelligent Communities’ are not smart metropolitan cities. All of them are small and mid-size cities from four countries including Australia, Canada, Estonia and the US. One out of these seven finalists will be named the Intelligent Community of the Year 2020 at the ICF Summit on June 18 in Dublin, Ohio.