The Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) announced its list of the Top Seven Intelligent Communities of the Year, each a model for economic development in the 21st Century.
The Top Seven announcement is the second stage of ICF’s annual Intelligent Community awards cycle. Gaining a place among the Top Seven is a major achievement as well as a step toward even greater recognition for communities working to create prosperity and social inclusion in what ICF terms “the broadband economy.”
The Top Seven were selected, based on analysis by academic experts, from among the Smart21 Communities of the Year. On May 16, one of the Top Seven will be named 2008’s Intelligent Community of the Year during ICF’s Building the Broadband Economy annual summit in New York City.
ICF co-founder Louis A. Zacharilla noted that, for the first time, the Top Seven included three American communities, plus three from the rest of the world that were named to the list a second time. Listed in alphabetical order, the 2008 Top Seven Intelligent Communities of the Year are:
- Dundee, Scotland, United Kingdom. This former industrial center known for “jute, jam and journalism” has transformed itself through intensive government-academic-business collaboration and broadband deployment into a UK center for life sciences and digital media. An innovative smart card for citizens was so successful that the Scottish Government asked Dundee to run its national program. With rising net job growth and business starts, Dundee has created a Digital Observatory to track its future progress as an Intelligent Community. (Top Seven 2007)
- Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. This community of 50,000 was a broadband “have not” until the City Council led an effort to aggregate public-sector, university and business demand and created e-Novations, its own fiber carrier, then launched the Fred-eZone wireless network offering free connectivity across the city. Today, Fredericton contains 70% of the province’s knowledge-based businesses and is using ICT to substantially reduce its carbon footprint.
- Gangnam District, Seoul, South Korea. With only 2.5% of Seoul’s population, this district produces 25% of the city’s economic activity, and has invested its wealth in the next generation of e-government. Since 1995, a relentless digital drive has reduced the cost of government while delivering online services, education, quality of life programs and e-democracy to citizens. Over 70% of citizens have received ICT training through schools, community centers and a TV GOV program. (Top Seven 2007)
- Northeast Ohio, USA. The communities of this region are rising from the ashes of deindustrialization to recreate the entrepreneurial business, political and social culture that produced its first wave of prosperity. A successful fiber network deployment by OneCommunity has been leveraged by government and nonprofits to jumpstart new investment, improve healthcare delivery, bring the best in culture and education to urban schools, and engage tens of thousands of area leaders in collaboration over regional economic development.
- Tallinn, Estonia. A suggestion by Estonia’s president in 1995 that schools be connected to the Internet led to an ICT revolution that has linked 100% of Tallinn’s secondary schools to the Web and established over 600 public access points. More than 100,000 adults have received ICT training, while e-government programs have produced one of the most advanced smart card systems in Europe and a middleware program that slashes the costs of e-government. It was not until 1994 that the last Russian troops left the country, yet today, Tallinn receives 77% of all foreign direct investment into Estonia and seven out of ten in its workforce are in the service sector. (Top Seven 2007)
- Westchester County, New York, USA. This suburb of New York City was largely ignored by broadband carriers until it amassed demand from public agencies and built a multi-gigabit fiber network that now serves over 3,500 companies. Determined to maintain the quality of life that is its most compelling advantage, the county has invested in promoting business growth, improving the skills of its workforce and fighting digital exclusion in a community that has seen new immigrants become 35% of its population.
- Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA. Powerful government-business-academic collaboration led by Wake Forest University permitted this former “tobacco capital” to build a fiber network that spurred demand and led to an 88% broadband penetration rate. The partners have used this digital foundation to develop free computer labs across the region, create an e-government portal that is number three in the nation, and build a sustainable ICT skills training program. The city and county now count 37,000 biotech employees as residents and will fund a program to put PCs and broadband connections into the homes of low-income students.