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Intelligent Communities Global Blog Series Kickoff, The World’s Smartest Cities

I can hardly wait.  In two days the suspense will be over and the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) will have selected its 2013 Intelligent Community of the Year.  With so many extraordinary and innovative communities in the running, I’m glad it’s not up to me to choose one.  But I do have the thrill and privilege of seeing it all happen, live in New York City at the ICF Summit this week.

I and the other attendees will no doubt listen in awe to the inspiring leaders from all around the world as they talk about the way their organizations are changing the way people in their communities or regions work, live, play, and learn.  Who will be this year’s winner?  One strong candidate is Toronto Canada, one of this year’s Top7 communities.  Learn more about their initiatives in the video below:

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Later today, we’ll hear from Toronto’s Councillor, Michael Thompson, and have the opportunity to pick his brain during a group Q&A session to learn more about how Toronto is improving their economic and social environment by providing community network services to its constituents, with its energy-reducing smart and connected buildings to link residents and businesses, with portals and kiosks to provide real-time services to citizens, and with smart sensors and surveillance for public safety.  I’d say they’re a pretty tough contender!

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Cloud for Local Government Global Blog Series, From “Techno” Tears to Confidence (Perspective from Louis Zacharilla, Co-Founder of the Intelligent Communities Forum)

Not long ago this joke was buzzing around the Internet:

Question:  Why was the computer late to work?

Answer: Because it had a hard drive.

David Letterman does not have to look over his shoulder but the corny little joke is loaded with possibilities for a discussion about the power of the Cloud and communities.

As the Top7 Intelligent Communities of 2013 make their way toward New York this week for the annual dialogue among 250 invited global thought leaders (including Cisco’s Dr. Norman Jacknis, who will give this year’s “Revolutionary Community” keynote talk), the ingredients for the secret sauce used to re-energize communities for the 21st Century will be revealed by its “chefs. “ I am guessing that one of the revealed secrets will be that the idea of being late for work has become passé.  Connectivity, when invested in properly, unleashes a new knowledge workforce and revives communities that have been looking for ways for their local economies to flourish.  Certainly broadband connectivity and more affordable access to the cloud remain big drivers for community revival and at least part of the secret toward solving many problems, including commuting and productivity.

So is vision.  Attendees will also hear from people like BlackBerry co-founder Mike Lazaridis , who will discuss why he believes quantum computing will be the next silicon for his community, Waterloo, Canada, the 2007 Intelligent Community of the Year.  He has invested CAN$250 million in a fund to begin to make it so.  He has the right environment.  Waterloo, a city of only 120,000 people, produced 10% of all the publicly-traded companies on the Toronto Stock Exchange in 2007.  This was not an accident.  It shares traits with Intelligent Communities everywhere.

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What is a City, and How Does it Get Smarter?

The journey to smarter cities and communities has gained momentum in recent years, as a recent BBC article highlights. I’d like to offer a few points from my experiences over the last five years exploring this territory:

  • First, the critical issue is how to move beyond visions and prototypes, to scaling and adoption.
  • Second, the whole notion of smart cities should also be reappraised.
  • And third, the Internet of Everything Economy will fuel a transformation across communities, industries, and social interactions.

We are looking at a dynamic concept to which bounded definitions — whether physical, digital, organizational, or technological — seem increasingly inadequate.

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The RAPTOR SME Grant Scheme

The investment in technology to support London 2012 was staggering. Now, post-Games, the challenge turns to keeping it alive; utilising what remains to help build businesses, serve the community, and create a brighter future for technological innovation in the UK.

One way Cisco is helping to achieve this is through the RAPTOR grant scheme.

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Smart Cities: Moving from Discussion to a Call for Action

I am in San Francisco this week to attend a City Protocol workshop along with the Meeting of the Minds 2012 conference (Twitter: @meetoftheminds), which brings together thought leaders from the world’s most innovative organizations to spotlight fresh ideas in urban connectivity and sustainability.

All week, I’ve been surrounded by urbanists and city experts talking about ways to make cities better. At many city events worldwide, I see a lot of discussion that seems to center on “what” can be done to improve our cities. This week, however, I’ve heard people asking the presenters “how” the smart innovation actually happened. That is, they wanted to know who did what, and how it was developed, operated, and financed.

This clearly demonstrates that there is need for more replicable and usable information describing “how” Smart Cities are actually made to be smarter. To fill this need, one must understand how cities operate and how Smart City “indicators” are actually delivered. Read More »

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