In October, Greater Montréal was named as one of 2014’s top 21 smart communities by the Intelligent Community Forum. What does this distinction mean and how does it affect our lives? We will explore this subject, and some of its key aspects, in a four-part series. (This is part 1.)
What is an intelligent community?
An intelligent community uses technology to communicate and collaborate quickly and effectively across time zones and cultures. The technology can be integrated at all levels, from individual devices and appliances to buildings, streets, neighbourhoods, cities and regions. This interconnectedness can boost productivity, open markets, create jobs, protect the environment, and ultimately, heighten the standard of living. The intelligent community is also called: virtual, wired, smart, open, etc.
When time and place are less important, an interesting phenomenon happens. The intelligent community can be located anywhere, in the suburbs or big cities; in developing or industrialized nations.
There are at least four critical success factors for intelligent communities to happen (more to come in subsequent posts) : innovation, infrastructure, talent and governance.
Economic development leaders are beginning to recognize how intelligent communities can drive economic growth. Each year, the Intelligent Community Forum selects a list of 21 smart communities, followed by a short list of top seven communities, until finally only one emerges as the Intelligent Community of the Year. To get a better idea, let’s take a real example of an intelligent community.
The case of Eindhoven, Netherlands
In 2011, Brainport Eindhoven was declared Intelligent Community of the Year. Part of the three pillars of the Dutch economy : Airport (Schiphol Amsterdam); Seaport (Port of Rotterdam) and Brainport (Eindhoven), the latter creates a favourable environment for innovation, academia and business. It is where the technology of the future is being designed and manufactured, ensuring a green and caring society, and the economic development of the Netherlands. A chain of four high tech campuses and two business incubators support the five focal sectors of the region: high tech systems & materials, food, automotive, lifetech and design.
Montreal has already been chosen by Fast Company in 2012 as one of the Top 10 Smartest Cities In North America due to its European roots and high-quality public transit (Siemens Transit index). It ranks high for lifestyle, culture and is one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in North America.
There are many innovative projects underway in Montreal, one of them, the Technoparc’s recent inauguration of the Hubert Reeves Campus in Saint-Laurent, dedicated to the research and development of clean technologies. It has the mandate to achieve the following eco-friendly goals:
· Carbon footprint reduction through the sustainable management of residual materials and the use of local resources,
· Resource-use reduction through the choice of proven energy-efficient materials and technologies,
· Emergence of eco-industrial networks that bring together innovation, value enrichment and research resources.
In the next post, we will examine the role of infrastructure in the development of intelligent communities.