Seizing Beyond the Smart City Concept

Jul 27 • Articles, Cityscape, Métacité • 1923 Views • Comments Off on Seizing Beyond the Smart City Concept

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Intelligent Communities: A more holistic approach to city and community-building.

By John. G. Jung…


Many cities around the world have seized on the Smart City concept as a sustainable and cost-effective solution to urban problems ranging from traffic congestion and pollution to efficiently delivering basic utilities and citizen services.

The essential difference between Smart Cities and Intelligent Communities is the former’s focus on urban performance as it relates to urban competitiveness versus the latter’s role in creating a more holistic approach at city and community-building and collaboration.  By building and managing urban infrastructure with advanced monitoring and other intelligent systems, a new urban competitiveness is able to be developed based on urban performance and productivity. Urban, environmental and social capital emerge when they are properly valued and taken advantage of, usually through analysing large amounts of (big) data coming from a number of urban infrastructure sources.  For instance, smart meters in municipal buildings limit electrical waste; monitored traffic patterns ease congestion and reduce carbon emissions through effective traffic management systems; a city water main is kept in excellent condition to be able to provide 100% distribution since no leaks are detected along its system and repaired immediately when identified, and so on. These raise the bar for everyone in the community. Municipal chief administrative and innovation officers are flocking to their nearest technology partners to become “smarter-connected and/or sustainable cities” as promoted by IBM, CISCO, Alcatel and Siemens, among others.

But to take it to the next level in creating Intelligent Communities, some cities have gone beyond simply the smart city approach and like 119 intelligent cities around the world, have taken a more holistic approach advocated by the Intelligent Community movement. They have learned to work with their universities and colleges to develop talent and knowledge workers specifically geared for the new and highly competitive knowledge-centric businesses and industries. They have developed supportive ecosystems promoting creativity and innovation in their communities; trained their citizens to become digitally involved; undertook sustainable and other environmentally-sensitive initiatives; and promote their communities as Intelligent Communities globally. Their differentiation and competitive advantages have helped them to attract foreign direct investment; develop, attract and retain their talent; and create an extremely powerful brand that attracts people and investment to their communities.

Smart cities build on asset management performance and efficiencies; Intelligent Communities, strategically leverage these highly productive assets and collaboratively combine them with the sense of community as a whole to seize on their vision. As the Mayor of Stratford, Ontario has proclaimed, “it takes a Smart City to become an Intelligent Community.”

Here are the Top 7 Intelligent Communities identified this year by the New York City based global think tank, the Intelligent Community Forum:

Columbus, Ohio

Oulu, Finland

Stratford, Ontario

Tallinn, Estonia

Taoyuan, Taiwan

Toronto, Ontario

Taichung, Taiwan.


For example, Stratford, Ontario leveraged Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) to transform its economy. The city-owned utility built out an extensive open access fiber network with a WiFi overlay and signed agreements with commercial carriers to deliver triple-play and mobile services, enabling, for example, its Stratford Festival to significantly expand its online marketing, to play a key role in the city’s tourism strategy, help turn Stratford into a test bed for technology pilots and to attract the University of Waterloo to open its Stratford Campus focused on digital media.

Beyond the extensive local and Estonia-wide high-speed broadband that is being deployed, Tallinn, Estonia’s 23 universities and technical schools generate an extensive knowledge workforce focused on expanding ICT and digital content skills. Tallinn and its educational and business partners have launched multiple incubators targeting medical and biotech, mechatronics, ICT and creative services, including Europe’s first gaming accelerator. In addition, its Ülemiste City industrial estate has expanded to house 250 companies, making it the Baltic’s biggest knowledge-based development.

Toronto, Ontario is experiencing an immigration-driven population surge that is straining its hard and soft infrastructure systems. Governments are addressing these challenges with a development strategy stressing ICT, transit, environmental sustainability and innovation. One of the key strategies being implemented is along Toronto’s waterfront where North America’s largest urban renewal project is transforming a vast area along Lake Ontario into a new knowledge-based economic center called the Intelligent Waterfront with 40,000 residential units, one million sq. meters of commercial space, hundreds of hectares of parks as well as a new center for universities and knowledge-based industries, served by a 1 Gbps fiber-to-the-premise network.

In Taichung, Taiwan, its 17 universities and colleges created a truly lifelong learning system ranging from basic digital education and vocational training to advanced study and continuous skills improvement. It is also aggressively pursuing industrial clustering through development of the Central Taiwan Technology Corridor, which combines science parks, precision manufacturing parks and software parks to give physical shape to its global ambitions. Taichung was selected as the 2013 Intelligent Community of the Year on June 7, 2013 at Steiner Studios in Brooklyn, New York.

John. G. Jung, Chairman and Co-Founder; Intelligent Community Forum & President, ICF Foundation.



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