Two Canadian communities – Waterloo and Ottawa-Gatineau – have been named among the Top Seven Intelligent Communities in the world by the New York-based Intelligent Community Forum (ICF).
The Top Seven communities represent the cream of the cream – as they were shortlisted from the ICF’s earlier Smart21 list.
From the Top Seven, in May, one outstanding community will claim the grand title of ‘Intelligent Community of 2007’.
The Top Seven announcement was made Wednesday at a reception in Honolulu, Hawaii, led by ICF co-founders John Jung and Louis Zacharilla. Jung is also ICF chairman.
The Forum is a non-profit think tank that focuses on job creation and economic development in the broadband economy.
Its latest announcement was part of a 10-month “Intelligent Community” awards program that received around 400 nominations this year from communities around the world.
From those nominations, selections were made by a team of academic researchers and were based on six key capabilities: broadband infrastructure, knowledge workforce, digital inclusion, innovation and finance, marketing and leadership.
Other communities that made the cut are Dundee, Scotland; Gangnam District, Seoul, South Korea; Issy-les-Moulineaux, France; Sunderland, Tyne & Wear, United Kingdom; and Tallinn, Estonia.
There is a definite recipe for forging an intelligent community, such as the ones on the Top Seven list, according to Kieran Bonner, professor of sociology at the University of Waterloo.
The key ingredients, he says, are tolerance, diversity and openness to new ideas. “And you have to have innovative people in the community to attract other innovative people.”
Bonner says creating an attractive city requires factors such as a university, innovative businesses, a lively and diverse culture, and far-sighted municipal leadership.
City of Waterloo councilor Mark Whaley echoes this view and says it’s important for government, academia, business and non-profit organizations to be on the same page on issues that move the community forward.
Besides those factors, making broadband universally accessible within a community can foster effective communication, says Mathieu Larocque, spokesperson for Marc Bureau, mayor of Gatineau.
“One of our goals was to be a transparent city where our citizens would have access to as much information as possible,” he says.