Waterloo gets global ‘smart city’ nod

Think tank Intelligent Community Forum recently named Waterloo, Ontario as the 2007 Intelligent Community of the Year. CIO Canada reported in its Jan/Feb issue that the city was a finalist in the competition, along with Burlington, Ont. and Ottawa-Gatineau.

The ICF’s five criteria for the Intelligent Community award are based on how advanced the communities perform in deploying broadband, building a knowledge-based workforce, combining government and private-sector “digital inclusion,” fostering innovation, and marketing economic development.

ICF co-founders John Jung and Louis Zacharilla pointed to Waterloo’s 45 percent job growth in high-tech industries, along with the community’s depth of broadband penetration. Seventy-five percent of the city’s adults access the Internet, with 76 percent of businesses and 47 percent of households deploying broadband technologies.

Besides BlackBerry maker Research in Motion, Waterloo (population 115,000) is home to three Ontario colleges or universities and produces 10 percent of successful start-ups on the Toronto Stock Exchange. ICF feted Waterloo as a global model of cooperation between business, government and academia.

“The community has an extraordinary culture of collaboration and reinvestment. People in Waterloo make partnership a priority and are eager to give back to the entire community,” Zacharilla said.

The ICF also awarded its Visionary of the Year distinction to Wikipedia developer Wikia, together with its co-founders Angela Beesley and Jimmy Wales.

Cornell University’s “Technology Farm,” as it calls its Agriculture and Food Technology Park, won the Intelligent Facility of the Year Award. ICF underscored Cornell’s imaginative technology-incubator approach to commercialization in agriculture.

Sunderland, United Kingdom, won the Lifetime Achievement Award, as a region that has placed among the Top Seven Intelligent Communities five times. The British community turned its decaying industrial economic base, with 24 percent unemployment, into a showcase of balanced economic development, whose employment rate now exceeds the United Kingdom’s average. 074609

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