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Intelligent Communities Global Blog Series, Taichung Sets the Stage (Perspective from Louis Zacharilla, Co-Founder of the Intelligent Communities Forum)

The Taiwan city of Taichung was in the spotlight twice this year.  Not bad for a place few had heard of in most parts of the Western world – at least until the Academy Awards broadcast in February.  During that event, Asian-born director Ang Lee, after being named the recipient of four Oscars for his film Life of Pi, thanked Taichung in his acceptance speech for its technical prowess.  Those bragging rights were celebrated.  Four months later the city had something else to claim.  In June, the city’s Secretary-General (the equivalent of City Manager in the United States), Ms Ching-Chih Liao, stood on the stage at Steiner Film Studios in New York to accept the Intelligent Community of the Year award on behalf of Taichung’s 2.7 million citizens and its charismatic mayor, Jason Hu. An international jury and a research company had ranked this city higher (by a few hundredths of a point) than the six other communities that had been invited to New York for their impressive achievement as innovative, job-creating places which used technology to enable growth.

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Madame Liao noted the hard work that her community has done to balance its rural and urban economies, and the role that both broadband and the cloud play to support an infrastructure upon which innovation and technology companies thrive and add value in a place once known as “The Mechanical Kingdom.”

To understand why Taichung went so far in the awards program, it is important to understand that it first grasped the basic importance of the layer of physical infrastructure (telecommunications) and how it would next lead to its ability to exceed at ICF’s other five criteria, including innovation and a knowledge workforce poised to grow its middle-class.

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Intelligent Communities Global Blog Series, Does Innovation Destroy Jobs?

The Intelligent Community Forum just completed its annual summit, which celebrates the Top 7 most intelligent communities in the world.   These are the global leaders who have already made investments in broadband and in community building — and who are now looking to see how they can build on those advantages.

This year’s theme was innovation and employment, so I was asked to give the keynote presentation on the question of whether innovation destroys jobs and how sub-national governments should respond.

This is a summary.  The video of the presentation will be available in a couple of weeks.  [Note: there was a foreshadowing of this presentation in my earlier blog post “Are Jobs Disappearing?“]

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Helping Caribbean Entrepreneurs Get Down to Business

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By Jason Kohn, Contributing Columnist

There’s plenty to love about Jamaica: the weather, the food, the music, the gorgeous beaches and mountains. But there’s one area where, according to one study at least, Jamaica is lagging behind: information technology.

This shouldn’t necessarily surprise. While some Latin American countries, especially Brazil, Chile, and Argentina, are seeing significant economic and IT growth, investment in the Caribbean is growing much more slowly.

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Broadband Austerity: The Wrong Path at the Wrong Time

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By Howard Baldwin, Contributing Columnist

Is broadband deployment progressing or regressing? Does it seem like broadband policy may be taking two steps forward and one step back? Most of the time we’re inundated in encouraging news, both forecasts about its economic potential and grounded-in-reality reports about new deployments, but sometimes it’s hard to tell.

Research firm Gartner has devised an unintentionally humorous curve that it applies to technology like broadband: its hype cycle. It has five data points, starting out like a waveform and then flattening out.

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Urban Renewal: A Tale of Two American Cities

By Howard Baldwin, Contributing Columnist

For those who love irony, the story of Detroit is its epitome. Here’s a city that created an industry devoted to automobiles, which, because of their widespread acceptance, become the single greatest contributing factor to people leaving cities … like Detroit.

Granted, Detroit has had to deal with other contributing factors, but the fact remains that its population is a shadow of what it once was; over the past 60 years, its population has shrunk from 1.8 million to just over 700,000.

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