While SMBs aren’t structured in the same way as major metropolises, they can learn a lot from them when it comes to doing the things that have made these cities successful.

A couple of weeks ago, we published a story on ITBusiness.ca about the Seven Habits of Highly Intelligent Communities. The habits are part of a summit that will take place June 3 to 4 at George Brown College’s Waterfront Campus here in Toronto. The summit leads up to the annual Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) in New York, running from June 5 to June 7, an event that names the most intelligent community in the world.

However, ICF co-founder John Jung stresses there are more than just seven habits required in becoming an intelligent community – there’s also a rigorous application process that a city must undergo if it wants to take that title home.

There are actually five requirements in attaining intelligent community status:
– infrastructure
– knowledge workforce, or development and retention of talent
– innovation and creativity
– digital inclusion
– advocacy and marketing

The ICF is also considering adding a sixth criterion, making sustainability one of the requirements of an intelligent community.

Provided - John Jung
Provided – John Jung

There are currently 19 Canadian communities who have scored this intelligent community status, out of 120 around the world, Jung says. This year, Toronto and Stratford, Ont. have ranked in the world’s top seven. (See the list of the 19 communities at the bottom of the story).

Although Toronto hasn’t made the top seven since 2007, it is on the list this year because it has great infrastructure, especially in the Waterfront area, where it provides high-speed wireless to both businesses and residents. Yet it also had to satisfy all of the other requirements in being an intelligent community.

Toronto’s elementary and high schools are also adding to a knowledge workforce, since young students are learning computer skills and becoming more comfortable with technology. The city’s universities and research institutions also make it a hotbed of innovation, and while many cities struggle with marketing and advocacy, Jung says even the lights of the CN Tower have displayed ICF’s colours to celebrate the city’s intelligent community status.

While this criteria is only applied to cities, Jung says SMBs can also pick up a few of these to become successful.

“SMBs, they are the heart to this whole thing. First of all, a lot of them work with the universities and they work with government and other institutions like non-profits to be advocates for this,” he says. “But at the end of the day, they’re the ones who make the applications and uses for everyday activity in the way that smart and intelligent communities exist.”

He gives the SMBs in Tallinn, Estonia as an example, citing the city of 400,000 as very supportive towards the startup community. Tallinn was the birthplace of Skype Inc., which went from a little-known communication tool to a household name before Microsoft Corp. acquired it for $8.5 billion in October 2011.

One of the reasons why Tallinn is recognized as an intelligent community is because it is digitally inclusive, and Skype was a huge contributor to that.

“Skype’s all about digital inclusion. Anyone can use it – heck, it was for free,” Jung says. “And they market it so well so that it’s become like Kleenex – like, oh I’ll Skype you.”

More recently, Tallinn’s SMBs have made it possible for locals to pay for parking using their smartphones using apps and near field communication (NFC) technology. That’s a prime example of digital inclusion, Jung says.

And SMBs can always use the ICF’s lists of the world’s most intelligent communities to make their own business decisions, Jung adds.

“They can develop new jobs, new processes and new business opportunities by utilizing the criteria that’s described in each one of these intelligent cities,” he says. “Businesses are looking at our lists to find smart cities around the world … if somebody in Canada wanted to target, which are the cities we should be going to and selling our applications or relocating, it’s a great list.”

The ICF will name the world’s most intelligent community in New York City, U.S. on June 7.

List of Canada’s Intelligent Communities:
1. Burlington, Ont.
2. Calgary, Alta.
3. Edmonton, Alta.
4. Fredericton, N.B.
5. Kenora, Ont.
6. Kingston, Ont.
7. Moncton, N.B.
8. Nunavut Territory
9. Ottawa-Gatineau Region
10. Quebec City, Que.
11. Saint John, N.B.
12. Stratford, Ont.
13. Sudbury, Ont.
14. Toronto, Ont.
15. Vancouver, B.C.
16. Waterloo, Ont.
17. Western Valley, N.S.
18. Windsor-Essex, Ont.
19. Winnipeg, Man.

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  • Kristina Verner

    Hello – Just a quick correction. Windsor-Essex (rather than just Windsor) was the region recognized by the ICF in both 2010 (Smart 21) and 2011 (Top 7).

    Thank you for continuing to cover stories on Intelligent Communities.

    • Candice So

      Thanks, just addressed that and made a correction.