World’s most intelligent communities to share stories in Toronto

A conference exploring the success stories of the world’s most technologically advanced hotspots is coming to Toronto in June.

The Seven Habits of Highly Intelligent Communities Summit, organized by i-Canada, will run from June 3 to 4. Held at George Brown College’s Waterfront campus, this year’s summit will explore why smaller cities like Oulu in Finland, Tallinn in Estonia and Canada’s own Stratford, Ont. made the Intelligent Community Forum’s (ICF) list of the top seven most intelligent cities in the world.

Every year, the forum creates a list of communities that creatively use broadband networks and information and communications technology to improve their citizens’ standard of living. The list starts with 21 of these intelligent communities and is later cut down to a short list of the top seven. Among Canadian contenders, the 2013 short list includes Stratford and Toronto.

Representatives from the top seven cities will be coming to the summit to explain how each of their cities represents one of the seven habits of highly intelligent communities. For example, a representative from Oulu, Finland, will give a presentation about one of the habits – “being open” – through giving its citizens access to free public WiFi throughout the city.

“The infrastructure that is needed in communities is the infrastructure that supports a knowledge-services economy. That is a broadband slash digital infrastructure,” says Barry Gander, co-founder of i-Canada.

“The intelligent communities have an advantage in all of this. They provide faster growing economies, better paying jobs, sustainable communities and better environments … The faster the rate of innovation, the higher the growth rate will be in that community.”

The summit will expand more on the seven habits of intelligent communities, but as a quick preview, these habits include being strategic, open, ubiquitous, fast, analytical, value-focused and collaborative.

Toronto’s contribution was for being fast. With the installation of an ultra high-speed, 1 Gpbs fibre network in Toronto’s East Bayfront and West Don Lands communities, businesses and residents alike will have access to a blazingly fast Internet connection, Gander says.

In a similar vein, Stratford made the list for being value-focused. Stratford, Ont. is home to roughly 31,000 people. Yet despite its size, the city garnered a spot on the top seven because it has developed information and communications technology that supports its thriving arts scene.

“Canada is very ambitious in these things,” Gander says. “I have yet to speak to any mayor without ambitions to win [the most intelligent community] award.”

Other highlights of the summit include the Lac Carling 3.0 Congress, where Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD University) president Sara Diamond will present a study on mobile devices and how they affect the relationship between governments and their citizens. Speakers will also look at the open data phenomenon and what that spells for governments looking to shape public policy.

This is the second year that Stratford has made the shortlist of most intelligent communities, while Toronto hasn’t cracked the top seven since 2005. The seven are chosen from a list of 21 cities, with Winnipeg, Man. and Kingston, Ont. also appearing on that list.

The world’s most intelligent community of 2013 will be named at the ICF in New York in another conference running from June 5 to 7. Past Canadian winners include Calgary, AB in 2002 and Waterloo, Ont. in 2007.

Registration for the Seven Habits of Highly Intelligent Communities Summit can be found here.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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