Communities from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Russia, and Vietnam become finalists for Intelligent Community of the Year to be named at the ICF Summit in October
In an announcement today at the conclusion of a virtual conference, the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) named the Top7 Intelligent Communities of 2021. The 19th annual Top7 list includes cities and counties from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Russia, and Vietnam. One of these seven finalists in the think tank’s annual awards program will be named the Intelligent Community of the Year at the ICF Summit in October, which will once again be a virtual conference as the world recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. (www.intelligentcommunity.org/summit)
In alphabetical order, the Top7 Intelligent Communities of 2021 are:
- Binh Duong Smart City, Vietnam
- Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil
- Langley Township, British Columbia, Canada
- Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
- Moscow, Russia
- Townsville, Queensland, Australia
- Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Two of this year’s Top7 Intelligent Communities have appeared on the Top7 list in previous years: Moscow in 2017, and Winnipeg in 2016 & 2018. Binh Duong Smart City, Curitiba, Langley Township, Mississauga and Townsville are making their first appearance as Top7 Communities. Binh Duong Smart City is the first-ever community from Vietnam to appear on the Top7 list, while Curitiba is the second such community from Brazil (Rio de Janeiro was a Top7 Community in 2015).
The announcement was made at the conclusion of a three-day virtual conference with the theme of From Recovery to Prosperity. It featured panel discussions and presentations from mayors, CIOs, futurists, researchers and other experts in the Intelligent Community field. Archives of the sessions can be viewed at intelligentcommunity.org.
“We again welcome a diverse group of cities and towns from around the world to the Top7," said ICF co-founder Lou Zacharilla. "All have been using the ICF Method and working with other Intelligent Communities as mentors, with a specific goal of achieving this status for years. This list reflects their aspirations, and it very publicly rewards them for their hard work. We also salute the regions, cities and towns who do NOT enter our awards but use the ICF Method continually to improve and set a standard. The Top7 are our celebrated heroes, and the hundreds of others are our quiet heroes and the backbone of the Intelligent Communities move
The ICF Top7 Intelligent Communities of 2021, which are models of economic, social and cultural development in the digital age, will be featured throughout the ICF Summit in October. Representatives from the Top7 will take part in the program’s features – including special Top7 Conversations – and one of the Top7 will be named the 2021 Intelligent Community of the Year. For more information and to register for the ICF Summit, visit www.intelligentcommunity.org/summit.
Following are snapshots of this year’s 2021 Top7 Intelligent Communities. Complete profiles and data can be found online on ICF's Website.
Binh Duong Smart City is a new development that is transforming a traditionally agrarian, low-population region into the core of Vietnam’s Southern Key Economic Zone. With guidance from the city of Eindhoven, ICF’s 2011 Intelligent Community of the Year, the new city has already developed an international university, six industrial parks, the region’s first accelerator and a series of tech and digital fabrication labs. But its original population is not being left behind. Working with farmers associations, the project is delivering information on prices, markets, and best practices, and training farmers in applying digital tools to agriculture. Binh Duong Smart City aims to build a more prosperous future for all.
Curitiba in the Brazilian state of Paraná is evidence that urban planning works. For nearly 40 years, while other Brazilian cities welcomed heavy industry, Curitiba accepted only non-polluting employers. It developed an industrial district with so much green space that it was called a golf course – until it filled up with more than 3,500 companies. Master plans created attractive neighborhoods across the city and a range of citizen services rarely found in emerging economies, while an open access fiber network serves the city and much of the state. Today, Curitiba is focused on developing an innovation ecosystem on that digital foundation through educational-business partnerships, high-tech training, internships and a network of start-up spaces. With high-tech companies employing 25% of its workforce, Curitiba has achieved a per-capita income that is 86% higher than the Brazilian average.
The Township of Langley in British Columbia, Canada puts its energies into engaging all sectors of the community in progress. Home to the Katzie and Kwantlen First Nations, the township developed a heritage center at the local museum as part of a truth and reconciliation dialogue. Its schools offer career exploration workshops and internships with local employers and, in cooperation with the province, job training, connection with employers, and recruitment services. The township forged a municipal access agreement that ensures equal, uniform, and simplified access by ISPs to encourage competition, lower prices, and better service. Its people are equally engaged in planning the future, most recently in advising on a Cannabis Retail policy to help profit responsibly from legalization.
Mississauga, a suburb of Toronto, is a business and technology center in its own right. That has made it an attractive market for ISPs. The city encourages continued expansion with a streamlined online system for the trenching and installation permits that ISPs need. It has processed more than 17,000 applications in the past four years. Mississauga has leveraged this connectivity to help citizens, from a cloud-based system that makes connecting with the government easy to a Digital Main Street program that helps small businesses go online. In education, the city launched the Building Skilled Talent Together program to provide training for secondary and post-secondary students in the skills most in demand by local employers. Life sciences are a key sector, and the city supplements hands-on training with a program connecting universities and companies to ensure that academic programs meet real-world needs. Through these and other efforts, Mississauga aims to maintain its strong position in a high-tech future.
The capital city of Russia, Moscow produces more than 20% of that nation’s GDP. It is also a city that has made great strides in building a collaborative, knowledge-based economy in a nation where oil, natural gas, and minerals are the major exports. Moscow has 26 technology parks spread across the city, which support more than 1,300 high-tech companies. They represent the top rung of a ladder of educational opportunity running through the public school system, youth creativity centers and universities. To foster ongoing relationships among entrepreneurs, existing companies and educational and scientific organizations, the Moscow Innovation Cluster provides entrepreneurial support services to more than 19,000 clients. Digital city services engage Muscovites in improving quality of life and delivering healthcare services while saving the city millions each year. Deploying digital technologies and educational assets, Moscow has turned one of the world’s megacities into an Intelligent Community.
Townsville, in Queensland, Australia, enjoys a seaside location with more than 300 days of sunshine per year. But it is no stranger to crisis, from the loss of key industries to a natural disaster. It is pushing back with a relentless focus on innovation. The public-private Smart Precinct North Queensland offers an entrepreneurial ecosystem through events, training, and grants, while a future Eco-Industrial Precinct will create a sustainable advanced manufacturing and technology zone. To meet the growing needs for connectivity, the city has partnered with businesses to build out a gigabit fiber network supplementing the copper-based National Broadband Network. Its STEM and digital inclusion programs are preparing youth and adults for employment and citizenship in a digital economy. And its sustainability programs engage people in everything from building solar energy facilities to restoring their bit of the Great Barrier Reef.
Winnipeg is the capital of the Canadian province of Manitoba, whose economy is dominated by agriculture, energy, oil and mining. Over the past decade, the city has built a new economic foundation by connecting industry, education and a rising technology sector. Winnipeg’s digital transformation began when local business leaders, frustrated by poor broadband service, established the Manitoba Internet Exchange to attract internet service providers and reduce their operating costs. Partnerships with universities and community colleges and major employers created fabrication and digital equipment workshops that generate new products, new companies and new jobs. Innovation centers conduct joint research and development projects for employers from local farms to Boeing that reduce costs and pioneer new applications. Digital inclusion ranges from the public library to programs for First Nations communities in the use of digital technology to preserve culture and foster employment. Balancing tradition and ambition, Winnipeg keeps building a high-potential future for its people.
About the Intelligent Community Forum
The Intelligent Community Forum (www.intelligentcommunity.org), headquartered in New York, is a global movement of 180 cities, metro regions, and counties with a think tank at its heart and a mission to make everyone’s “hometown” a great place. Based on 20 years of research, ICF has developed a unique Method that communities large and small have used to develop prosperous and inclusive economies, strong societies, and rich cultures amid the massive disruptions of the digital age. ICF conducts research, hosts events around the globe, publishes books and produces its high-profile annual international awards program. The Forum sponsors research Institutes in North America dedicated to the study of the movement, and national organizations in Canada and Taiwan, both home to many Intelligent Communities. In 2012 ICF was invited to participate at the Nobel Peace Prize conference in Oslo and in 2014, its model and work was recognized by the U.S. Department of Commerce under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which, according to the American government, was "aimed at creating a more flexible and responsive system of workforce development to meet the needs of employers looking to fill 21st-century jobs.” The Forum’s membership is made up of 180 designated Intelligent Communities worldwide. For more information, go to www.intelligentcommunity.org/icf_membership. For more details on the Intelligent Community Forum’s recent publications and programs, www.intelligentcommunity.org.