Unprecedented: Canada takes over half of the global ICF SMART21 list for 2018

View the video: https://youtu.be/owwafUa3E_s

When the list came out, many of us shook our heads. Eleven of the 21 SMART21 spots in this year’s list was from Canadian cities! Really? Given the large number of entrants, how is this possible? One possible explanation is that since 2015, after ICF Canada was formed following the 2015 ICF Summit in Toronto, it strategically blanketed Canada with information about the Intelligent Community movement and encouraged communities to apply, not only to potentially be recognized through an ICF SMART21 award, but also to receive a response to the ICF offer to be benchmarked against other cities around the world.

The benchmarking is a free service through what is called the ICF Index. Communities submitting its information are compared to ICF’s global data on cities that cover its criteria. From this benchmarking exercise, communities are able to learn about their strengths but also learn about their gaps compared to other communities in the global database. Communities that submitted to this were automatically offered the opportunity to be entered into the 2018 SMART21 process. In Canada, ICF Canada promoted this over the past couple of years in its new Website, new newsletter called iCommunity.ca and through seminars, webinars and speaking engagements across Canada. It is probably safe to say, that in the past two years the newly formed ICF Canada initiative has been the most visible country-wide promotion of the Smart21 awards program and Intelligent Community movement than in any of ICF’s other countries. ICF Taiwan just formed earlier in 2017 and the Global Institute for the Study of the Intelligent Community, also a relatively new organization located out of Dublin, Ohio, is focused on the state of Ohio at the moment. Taiwan has 4 cities in the list for 2018 and Ohio has 1, but they will grow over time. The success of their activities in these two regions will no doubt be able to effectively compete with ICF Canada’s activities, but until then, Canadian cities seem to be the most active at the moment.

Consequently, it is not surprising that so many applications from across Canada came this year. And as we saw from the applications from across Canada, these communities are getting it in order to be selected as SMART21 cities. They understand that while smart infrastructure, such as deployment of high speed broadband, sensors and data analytics are vitally important to their communities, the strength of a more holistic approach to community transformation, including a focus on creating and retaining talent and filling the skills gaps are also vitally important to the economic health of their cities and regions. These communities also understand that in addition to developing a workforce capable of benefiting from the smart infrastructure, the environment around which an innovation and creativity ecosystem is nurtured is also important. This includes involving a quadruple helix approach involving government, institutions, the private sector and local citizens. Hence, digital inclusion of all citizens is also a key criteria of the ICF movement. These communities also recognize the need to plan for a sustainable future as well as for resiliency and to build programs that reflect the ways and means to establish effective advocacy of these ideas within their community. This approach includes developing strategic public policies that reflect the ideals of the Intelligent Community movement; mounting events and other initiatives, such as social medias campaigns to promote their community thought leadership, locally and abroad; develop, attract and retain investment, talent and jobs through effective branding and evidence of their community’s use and application of their smart infrastructure; and in demonstrating community-wide and cluster-wide collaboration and leadership across boundaries and silos.

This is then a challenge to other countries and regions around the world. If, as ICF Canada has been able to demonstrate, through a concentrated effort of education, promotion and encouragement, many more communities have been able to succeed, perhaps it might be useful to develop similar organizations and efforts in your countries. Join ICF Canada and ICF Taiwan as the next ICF Nation. ICF Canada would be pleased to mentor you as you look at ways to make this happen in your regions. If an Institute for the Study of Intelligent Communities is a more logical first step, to study and support local and regional Intelligent Community development in your countries, we can also mentor you on that evolution as well. For more information, please contact John G. Jung at jjung@intelligentcommunity.org

by John G. Jung. ICF Chair and Co-Founder

Want to have a voice in iCommunity.ca, the official newsletter of ICF Canada? Please send your blogs, announcements and other interesting content to John G. Jung at  jjung@icf-canada.com


ICF Canada   1310-20 Bay Street Toronto, Ontario M5J 2N8  www.icf-canada.com
Contact: John G. Jung at jjung@icf-canada.com 1-647-801-4238 cell

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