Rethinking Communities:Aligning Technology & Governance

Globalization and the rapid diffusion of new information and communication technologies are said to be eliminating both borders and boundaries. At the same time, localization and the effective adaptation of these technologies are said to be at the core of an emerging, revolutionary world of e-governance.

The main premise of e-governance is that a new digital architecture, built on the expanding and virtual platform of the Internet is changing the way we organize ourselves. As online processes permeate ever-growing proportions of economic, social and political activities, this premise resonates with more authority.

The notion of smart community builds on both the promise of technology and the impacts of a new, more networked intelligence on our individual decisions and collective fortunes. A smart community may be defined as a geographical area ranging in size from a neighborhood to a multi-county region within which citizens, organizations and governing institutions deploy and embrace technology to transform their region in significant and fundamental ways.

In an information age, smart communities are intended to promote job growth, economic development and improve quality of life within the community. A smart community, in an ideal sense, offers a holistic approach to helping entire communities go online to connect local governments, schools, businesses, citizens, and health and social services in order to create specific services to address local objectives and to help advance collective skills and capacities.

The smart communities concept is growing in essentiality and importance in the U.S. and indeed worldwide. In the 1997 Speech from the Throne, the Government of Canada made a pledge: “We will make the information and knowledge infrastructure accessible to all Canadians by the year 2000, thereby making Canada the most connected nation in the world. This will provide individuals, schools, libraries, small and large businesses, rural and Aboriginal communities, public institutions, and all levels of government with new opportunities for learning, interacting, transacting business and developing their social and economic potential.”

The Smart Communities Program is a three-year federal program created and administered by Industry Canada to help Canada become a world leader in the development and use of IT for economic, social and cultural development. The program’s goal is to help establish world-class smart communities across the country so that Canadians can fully realize the benefits that information and communication technologies have to offer.

As set out by Industry Canada, the program puts forth the following objectives: