Toronto is on the shortlist for the Intelligent Community Forum’s (ICF) top prize for the second year running, alongside two other Canadian cities giving Canada good odds in a list that totals seven communities.
The New York-based ICF unveiled its “Top7 Intelligent Communities for 2014″ this morning, highlighting places that have demonstrated a fusion between technology, culture, and collaboration for economic sustainability this year. The selected communities have developed solutions to economic and environmental challenges and have made use of broadband Internet as a foundation for an improved community, according to the ICF. Toronto is joined by Canadian counterparts Winnipeg and Kingston, Ont. on the top seven list. Also listed are two cities from Taiwan – Hsinchu City and New Taipei City – and two U.S. cities – Arlington County, Va. and Coumbus, Ohio.
A Tawainese city, Taichung, won the “Most Intelligent Community” prize for 2013, beating out Toronto and Stratford, Ont.
Toronto’s Waterfront Toronto project is again listed as one of the main reasons Canada’s largest metropolis is receiving attention from the ICF. The project on the shore of Lake Ontario near Toronto’s downtown core and seeks to revitalize the brownfield zone stretching for kilometers. It plans to do so with 40,000 new residential units, 1 million square meters of commercial space, and 300 hectares of parkland. Residents and businesses will be wired to a 1 Gbps fibre network provided by Beanfield Metroconnect. (It’s previously stated Internet speeds for residents will be 100 Mbps and businesses could access up to 10 Gbps speeds). The Corus Entertainment headquarters and George Brown College Health Sciences campus are named by the ICF as the first commercial tenants to be part of this urban renewal project.
Other Toronto public-private collaborations including the MaRS Discovery District and Ryerson University’s Digital Media Zone are also cited by the ICF, as is the Centre for Social Innovation.
Winnipeg is being named to the ICF’s Top7 list for the first time. The ICF points to Winnipeg’s linking of the public and private sector through partnerships like Canadian Tire and the University of Winnipeg, and the Composite Innovation Centre which has developed cost-saving composite materials out of hemp and flax and spurred the formation of national consortium Canadian Composites Manufacturing R&D.
Winnipeg’s innovative programs for aboriginal residents is also being recognized, including the Digital Voices program that was started at the city’s largest secondary school and combines the tradition of oral storytelling with digital skills training. The agricultural hub is also home to the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network and its social media offshoot APTN Digital Drum.
Also making its debut on the Top7 list is Kingston, Ont. with its open-access community broadband network front and centre. More than 90 per cent of Kingston residents have broadband subscriptions, including those in rural neighbourhoods thanks to the Eastern Ontario Regional Network, according to the ICF. The efforts of the city’s large university are also noted.
“Queen’s University founded an office in 1987, called PARTEQ Innovations, to identify intellectual property and support its commercialization. PARTEQ went on to build Innovation Park, where academic, business and government researchers work to pioneer new technologies and bring them to market.”
The Top7 cities will now be evaluated by an independent research firm and receive visits from ICF delegations between now and June. A jury of former winners, business leaders, government officials, and academics will ultimately select a winner that is disclosed at a New York-based event in June.
The ICF unveils the 2014 selections and explains its process in this video: