Canada Tops Global Intelligent Community List; Three Communities Cited for Broadband Development

By: Lee Rickwood

February 24, 2016

Three of the planet’s most intelligent communities are in Canada, and that bodes well for our use of broadband technologies in support of sustainable social, economic and structural development.

The Intelligent Community Forum named its Top7 Intelligent Communities of 2016 during a recent online webcast; three are in Canada, two in Taiwan, one in Germany, and one in New Zealand.

ICF honours the best practices of the world’s Intelligent Communities as they face new demands and seize new opportunities presented by information and communications technology (ICT); applicants are evaluated based on six Intelligent Community Indicators.

This year sees the fourteenth annual Top7 list, and Canadian cities are often at or near the top rankings (before being named as a Top7 Intelligent Community, cities are named to ICF’s list of the Smart21 Communities of the Year); one city will eventually be named Intelligent Community of the Year.

“Canada and Taiwan are again well-represented among the Top7 Intelligent Communities,” said ICF co-founder Louis Zacharilla.  “These are nations where regional and national policy has long aimed at helping their citizens adapt to the demands of the broadband economy, which has given them a lead in moving from broadband technology to truly transformed communities.”

This year’s list includes (in alphabetical order):

Montreal has been on the ICF’s list of Smart21 before, but it’s in the list of seven finalists for the first time. The city’s growing ICT, aerospace, life sciences, health technologies and clean tech sectors are using ICT solutions in more than 6,250 companies employing about 10 per cent of the workforce.

Surrey and Winnipeg are other Canadian cities returning to the list of the Top7 from previous years. Muelheim an der Ruhr and Whanganui are on the list for the first time and are the first-ever representatives from their nations to the list.

Toronto hosted the ICF Annual Gala in 2014.

Toronto won the top award in 2014, and the city hosted the first ICF Awards Gala outside the U.S. that year.

Columbus Ohio is the current title holder, and just as Toronto surrendered the crown to Columbus for 2015, Columbus will bow to one of this year’s Top7.

Toronto does not appear in the Top21 this year, and it is not clear that an entry application was filed. Changes in ranking are due to a number of factors, and a slip in the standings is not necessarily indicative of a step backward in ICT use or benefit.

“Communities move on and off the list for a variety of reasons,” explained ICF co-founder Robert Bell in an e-mail exchange with

“We are constantly discovering new cities and regions that we think may qualify as Intelligent Communities and we encourage them to submit the data we need to evaluate them. We do considerable research ourselves but depend on the communities for insights as well.

“Communities sometimes move off the list deliberately. If they have been on our Smart21 or Top7 list for a couple of years in a row but not advanced, they may take one or two years off to build their accomplishments and then re-submit a questionnaire. This is actually a desirable outcome: our Awards are intended to be an incentive for communities to advance in their efforts to prosper in the broadband economy.

“The competitiveness of the communities under consideration also changes from year to year. A community that ranks high one year may move a number of steps down the list because stronger competitors entered.

“And finally, we make occasional changes to our processes, as we did this year in introducing a new Smart21 questionnaire. This can affect the outcomes, though we try to keep this to a minimum.”

The Intelligent Community Forum Awards Program wraps in Columbus on June 16, when one of the Top7 Intelligent Communities succeeds Columbus as 2016 Intelligent Community of the Year.

From this year’s competitors, some interesting highlights (complete descriptions are available on ICF’s Website):

Hsinchu City, Taiwan: In 1980, Taiwan’s National Science Council set up the nation’s first science park in Hsinchu City, as a means to create a domestic high-tech industry.  Today, the 500 companies in Hsinchu Science Park employ 150,000 people and generate US$16.6 billion in total revenue.

Muelheim an der Ruhr, Germany: One multi-partner initiative is coordinating a program to cut carbon emissions in half by 2030

New Taipei City, Taiwan: New Taipei City (NTPC) became the nation’s most populous city make ADSL available to 99 per cent of the population, while speeds of up to 60 Mbps are available to 94 and 4G WiMax reaches 85 per cent.

Surrey, British Columbia, Canada: Development is focused on an Innovation Boulevard project, where the city, universities and business are building clusters in health technology, clean tech and advanced manufacturing.

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