Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Seven Smart Cities

Over 430 cities worldwide stepped up to the plate.

Only 7 are celebrating home runs.

The Intelligent Community Forum, a think tank full or "smarticles" studying economic and social development of the 21st Century, announced last week its list of the Top Seven Communities of 2009. These communities were named to the Top Seven based on analysis of their nominations by a team of independent academic experts:

And the winners are ...

- Bristol, Virginia, USA

A first time honoree, Bristol made an impact after taking on incumbent telcos in court and the state legislature to win the right to deploy a fiber network called OptiNet. OptiNet has attracted more than $50 million in private investment, including the region's first technology employers, and improved rural education and healthcare.

- Eindhoven, Netherlands

Long the industrial heart of the Netherlands, the Eindhoven region is leveraging a public-private collaboration called Brainport, to maintain and accelerate growth, while at the same time coping with an aging population and shrinking workforce.

- Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

This community became the industrial zone of Paris in the early 20th Century only to suffer de-industrialization in the post-war years. Beginning in 1980, a visionary mayor focused policy on creating an innovative, IT-based knowledge economy, implementing e-government and deploying cost-effective broadband. Public-private innovation includes a cyber-kindergarten for children, cyber tearooms for older citizens, a successful business incubator and ICT-based real estate projects.

- Stockholm, Sweden

In the mid-90s, Stockholm, the economic and political capital of Sweden, established a company called Stokab to build an open-access fiber network. Today, the 4,500 km network connects more than 90 competing service providers to government and business customers. Stockholm also manages KISTA Science City, housing more than 1,400 companies, plus a support program for start-up and early-stage companies.

- Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn has risen from post-Soviet economic ruin to become an economic tiger largely on the strength of ICT. Making creative use of people and funding, Tallinn computerized its schools and deployed widespread WiFi as well as nearly 700 public access kiosks. The city also developed a large-scale digital skills training program, extensive e-government, and an award-winning smart ID card. Rated #2 worldwide for economic potential by the Financial Times, Tallinn is home to half of Estonia's companies, which receive 77% of the country's foreign direct investment.

- Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada

For most of its history, government and education were the economic mainstays of Fredericton. When it could not get broadband from the private sector, Fredericton founded e-Novations, giving the city a 70% penetration rate at speeds of up to 18 Mbps. The next step was the Fred-eZone wireless network, which provides free WiFi service across 65% of the city. The combination of broadband, entrepreneurship and Fredericton's universities has powered the creation of over 12,000 jobs.

- Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Twenty years ago, Moncton was a former railroad and industrial hub facing a doubtful future. Since then, this bilingual community has become a major Canadian customer contact and back office center, and built a "near-shore" IT outsourcing industry. Private-sector carriers have collaborated in the city's growth as a telecom-centric economy, and helped power the addition of 20,000 new jobs since the early 1990s.

Given that TSB has deep Moncton roots, forgive the shameless plug for the city and region with this somewhat cheesy, yet informative promo put together by the folks responsible for tooting our horn in this part of the world.

In this 21st Century, connectivity is a double-edge sword: threatening established economies on the one hand, and offering enormous opportunities on the other. Landing in the Top Seven is a major achievement for these cities and one of the Top Seven will succeed the Gangnam District of Seoul, South Korea as Intelligent Community of the Year in New York City on May 15, 2009 during ICF’s annual "Building the Broadband Economy" Summit.

Which of the Top Seven will be the one city that really knocks it out of the ICF park in May?

Don't blame us if we're pulling for both Moncton and Fredericton from our end.

Doesn't it make you wonder how not one, but two cities from such a small province as New Brunswick, Canada could end up on a list like this one?

Hmmm ...

"Today's problems cannot be solved with the level of thinking that created them" ALBERT EINSTEIN


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