Archive | January, 2014

Smart Communities Celebrate as ICF declares Global Top 7

24 Jan

The Intelligent Community Forum has announced the 2014 Top7 Intelligent Communities of the Year. The Top7 list includes three from Canada, two from the United States, and two from Taiwan.

Columbus Skyline 2This year’s Top7 group is unusual in that they represent only three nations but they have set a course for others to follow.  Each made it to the list by demonstrating how they have begun to fuse technology, culture and collaboration for economic sustainability.

In alphabetical order, the 2014 Top7 Intelligent Communities are:

  • Arlington County, Virginia, USA, which is building its own fiber network to boost broadband service and re-energize government-business-university collaboration
  • Columbus, Ohio, USA, which in its recovery from the 2008 recession has 20,000 more jobs than it did at its last economic peak in 2007
  • Hsinchu City, Taiwan, the first city in Taiwan to implement e-learning platforms for its students and establish a science park
  • Kingston, Ontario, Canada, which leveraged its educational institutions to build an innovation economy focused on environmental sustainability
  • New Taipei City, Taiwan, a new city forged from communities surrounding the nation’s capital, which is creating a unified and dynamic knowledge economy
  • Toronto, Ontario, Canada, with a renowned waterfront development that will provide Internet at 500 times the speed of conventional residential networks
  • Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, where reinvention of its agricultural legacy is creating strong growth while preserving a valued heritage

Study after study notes that cities all over the globe need solutions to a wide range of problems from transportation and the environment to economic growth and education. Intelligent Communities provide solutions.

Regular readers of this blog may not be entirely surprised to find that no UK communities are featured in the Global Top 7.   To be amongst these selected finalists and on course (after the next round of intense scrutiny) for the ultimate 2014 accolade in June, they would already have needed to qualify for the Top 21.

The entire point of submitting to the rigour of the Intelligent Community Forum’s process is to learn.  Some communities find great value in participating in successive years as they invest in the development of their local economies and establish themselves on the global stage.

We know that despite relatively meagre public funding resources (compared to their global competitors), the UK’s major city economies beyond London already generate a high proportion of national GDP growth but are expected to respond to significant pressures on housing, infrastructure, health, education (particularly in digital and vocational skills), enterprise innovation and community development.  The due diligence of potential inward investors demands that risks of failure are fully exposed.

As nations or regions we may be justifiably proud of great past achievements and glorious contributions to societal endeavour but not all ideas are invented here.  In a more digitalised era the new competitive advantage is so often a collaborative advantage.

If leaders of enterprising communities across the UK seek to emulate the success of others, ICF’s Top 7 global exemplars provide a deep pool of experiences and insights – and a great focus for our next fully managed Study Tour when we join them in New York in the summer.

For more details contact

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A New Dynamic – effective business in a circular economy

24 Jan

A New Dynamic - coverAs the Ellen MacArthur Foundation crew headed to Davos they had at least two reasons to be cheerful; Unilever joining the foundation’s ranks of enlightened major players and the publication of their latest MBA textbook, ‘A New Dynamic’.

The Circular Economy concept has been well rehearsed  – notably in brilliantly animated productions for schools – and this new book is very much directed at graduates and business strategists.  It not only gives a thorough grounding in the concept’s gestation – how economies must move on from the wastefulness of outmoded ‘linear’ models – but also maps the scale of new sustainable opportunities.  This goes way beyond conventional recycling – it heralds both an entirely new way of designing products and the ways that these products (or the use of them) will be delivered to future consumers.

Converting the radical Circular Economy concepts into reality is a long term challenge that will increasingly be addressed by the enterprise managers of tomorrow.  Volatility in raw material and energy prices is just one of the drivers behind the shift from Ownership to Access and shifts in design to enable ‘things that are made to be made again’.

In ‘Booms and Boomerangs‘ we review ‘A new Dynamic’ in the context of Irene Ng’s ‘Value & Worth’ and John Kay’s recent RSA Journal essay ‘Circular Thinking’.

MEDIA ALERT: ICF to announce global Top 7 Intelligent Communities 12:00 GMT 23-Jan

22 Jan

The Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) will announce the 2014 ‘Top 7’ Intelligent Communities, at 12:00 GMT (07:00 EST) tomorrow – Thursday 23rd January.

The announcement will take place in Taichung City, Taiwan – winner of the award for Intelligent Community of 2013.

The Top 7 communities have been selected by an independent judging panel from the previously announced ‘Top 21’ .   They will now go forward to the final round ahead of the ICF Annual Summit in early June.

Groupe Intellex will carry a report of the full details on Friday 24th.

UK Media enquiries to: @groupeintellex,  david.brunnen@groupe-intellex.com, or +44 (0) 7714 325 657

RSA City Growth Commission – deadline for submissions – 17th January

13 Jan

hi=-tech buildingAs the RSA’s Call for Evidence is set to close next Friday we were reminded to look back at how we viewed the Urban Regeneration scene in 2008 – just prior to the financial meltdown.   Such was the paucity of ground-breaking developments that we described Urban Regeneration as ‘a cottage industry’.

Now that the economic cycle is once again supportive of renewed hope for urban regeneration and there are calls for smarter (or more intelligent) cities and communities, it’s perhaps time to pick up those themes that now seem more than ever essential in the search for prosperous local economies.

Full story here

Developing the Economic Fabric of the Future

5 Jan

Thinking about the prospects and projects for 2014, several development themes seem likely to be woven into the complex economic and community development fabric.  

One of our great insights from last year came from the CIO of the City of Chattanooga in Eastern Tennessee as he explained his rationale for investment – a process that resisted the technology-driven desires and preferences of the IT industry and focused ruthlessly on the real objectives of his municipal client departments.

This, in the USA’s first ‘GigabitCity’ where connectivity and capacity is not an issue, reflected a determination to deliver real benefits to the City’s administration (and  consequently its citizens and tax-payers) without wasting the rich resources available.  And in the Mayor’s office we found two of them – the City Mayor and the Mayor for the surrounding County.  Their mutual understanding of the interdependent role of the City and its hinterland added a fresh dimension to discussions of ‘Smart Cities’ that are so often reduced to Urban versus Rural contentions.

Immediately after visiting Chattanooga we spent time in New York with the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) and, once again, their perspective on the challenges faced by communities around the world provided a new way of thinking about the priorities we give to economic development.

In The Fabric of Our Futures (PDF) we summarise some of the more obvious themes that will arise in 2014 and, hopefully, will inform projects and prospects for future Study Tours, the UK’s Next Generation Digital Challenge Awards and the platforms we organise for innovators and community leaders.

The full text is also available here.