Taichung City, Taiwan is the Intelligent Community of the Year as awarded by the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF), beating out Ontario communities Toronto and Stratford for the title.

The announcement came on Friday as the ICF met in for its annual conference in New York City. Taichung, a city of 2.7 million, was selected from a short list of seven communities as the winner for its ambitious handling of a 2010 mega-city amalgamation, according to the ICF. In 2010 the metropolitan area was merged with the surrounding county and the result was a mix of two very different economies – one industry based and one agricultural based. The city partnered with telecom companies to create thousands of WiFi hotspots, fibre-based broadband, and 4G WiMax wireless signal to reach 90 per cent of the population. The result has been an economy driven by ICT, allowing a network of 1,500 precision machinery makers and tens of thousands of SMB suppliers to produce a $30 billion output.

It was Toronto’s first time making it to the ICF top seven list since 2005. It was considered a front-runner in part because of the Waterfront Toronto project. 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).

Stratford, Ont. was on the top seven list for the second year running. The ICF highlighted the small, south-western Ontario town for its application of digital media to bring the Shakespeare Festival to a wider audience outside of theater-goers visiting the town.

The last time Canada held the most intelligent community title was when Waterloo, Ont. won it in 2007.

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