Riverside, Calif. has beaten out three Canadian nominees for the Intelligent Community Forum’s (ICF) top honour as Community of the Year for 2012.
The California community was recognized for using a city-driven technology plan to its broken economy, once dependent on citrus production and the support of nearby railways, into a worthy satellite of Silicon Valley. Since 2004, the city has renegotiated the outsourcing contract for its information technology operations, built a fiber backbone that controls city facilities and systems, launched a new network operations centre, and used an advanced traffic management center to eliminate bottlenecks in the traffic and trains system.
Technology companies have created incubator spaces and commercialization assistance to foster startup growth, and the University of California Riverside provides the talent to make use of the facilities. Riverside Community College also parlayed government and investor funding into training 270 entrepreneurs and 20 tech startups since 2009.
Riverside beat out three Canadian communities that were in contention. Saint John, New Brunswick; Stratford, Ontario; and Quebec City were in the top seven going into the final awards ceremony in New York today.
The ICF recognizes communities that provide examples of economic and social development through investing in information and communications technologies (ICTs). It also looks for collaboration between the academic and private sectors and for municipalities to provide service accessibility via technology. The last Canadian city to win top spot was Waterloo, Ont. in 2007. This year marked the first time that three Canadian communities were in the top seven.
The awards also recognized Australia’s Minister for Broadband, senator Stephen Conroy as visionary of the year. He spearheaded a $43 billion investment in Australia’s National Broadband Network.
“Broadband provides an opportunity to create a socially inclusive society,” he said at the event’s keynote speech. “Digital inclusion cannot be achieved without direct government support.”
Riverside, Calif. is the first U.S. city to win the honour since New York City in 2001.
With files from Barry Gander.