The Twenty-one Smartest: Intelligent Communities

On Monday October 21st, the ICF (Intelligent Community Forum) announced its 2014 “Smart 21”. The ICF selects 21 communities after an in-depth review of hundreds of submissions by towns, cities, and regions from across the world that demonstrate excellence in innovation, broadband adoption, and digital inclusion to positively affect economic and social conditions for all its stakeholders.


Canada always has provided numerous great submissions for the Intelligent Communities program, but for the first time 6 out of 21 semi-finalists are Canadian communities. Among the impressive global list – for which each community has undertaken equally impressive initiatives and programs that earn them the right to be ranked among the most intelligent in the world – we find Canada’s Kingston (ON), Montreal (QC), Parkland County (AB), Quebec City (QC), Toronto + Waterfront Toronto (ON), and Winnipeg (MB). Now one may wonder if Canada is doing something right, or if the Canadian communities are simply more diligent in submitting applications? 

Smart21 of 2014

Arlington County, Virginia USA
Coffs Harbour, New South Wales Australia
Columbus, Ohio USA
Heraklion, Crete Greece
Hsinchu City Taiwan
Kingston, Ontario Canada
Mitchell, South Dakota USA
Montreal Metropolitan Area, Quebec Canada
Nairobi County Kenya
New Taipei City Taiwan
Parkland County, Alberta Canada
Prospect, South Australia Australia
Quebec City, Quebec Canada
Rio de Janeiro Brazil
Sunshine Coast, Queensland Australia
Taoyuan County Taiwan
Toronto, Ontario Canada
Walla Walla Washington USA
Wanganui New Zealand
Whittlesea, Victoria Australia
Winnipeg Canada

The ICF video announcing this year’s Smart21 semi-finalists.

Maybe both. But the Canadian communities on the list have a lot going for them as it relates to their journey on becoming intelligent communities. From dynamic collaborative eco-systems whereby the community involves all its stakeholders to achieve the most ambitious goals; to the availability of ultra-high-speed broadband connectivity; to providing platforms of innovation that invites public sector and private sector to collaborate and pursue the best possible innovations with the greatest impact to the community. One other thing that they almost all have in common is that they are great partners with Cisco!

I intend to write a short blog post sharing my point-of-view on the Canadian submissions, but today wanted to briefly highlight Winnipeg (MB) – and namely its “true growth” effort to corral all the energy and excitement in the community to the collective betterment of all parties involved. A unique and sustainable approach is applied across all Winnipeg stakeholders (private sector, Universities, public sector led by Economic Development) that embeds the Intelligent Community context and thinking right in the DNA of the community. What Winnipeg will achieve is that its vision, projects, and initiatives all will be integrated and shared by all participants, even long after nominations and awards have been handed out. Only when leadership considers being a Smart and Connected Community a foundational component of a municipality (just as we build Master plans for infrastructure (roads, parks, and homes), so also should a municipality consider a Master plan for digital innovation) will we see true and meaningful applications of Intelligent Community concepts that will have a lasting impact on economic development, social sustainability, and environmental improvement.

Soon, the “Smart21” will get narrowed to the “Top7” most Intelligent Community finalists and then the #1 Intelligent Community will be celebrated in June 2014. We will closely follow this journey and continue to partner with Canadian communities to do our part in driving innovation and productivity in the Canadian landscape.

About Rick Huijbregts

Rick Huijbregts is Vice President of Industry Transformation where he is responsible for Cisco Canada’s IoE strategy and industry business development. The members of his team are industry subject matter experts and each engage in the transformation of their respective industries (healthcare, oil and gas, financial services, education, real estate, and industrial sector). Huijbregts is also General Manager for Cisco Canada’s Smart + Connected Communities practice, including Smart + Connected Real Estate. Huijbregts holds construction and architecture degrees from Tilburg Polytechnic University and Delft University in the Netherlands, and a doctorate from Harvard University. Huijbregts is currently a faculty member at the Harvard Graduate School of Design Executive Education where he teaches classes on Smart Buildings and Smart Cities. He also serves on several boards of Canadian academic institutions and not-for-profits. Rick Huijbregts est vice-président de la transformation sectorielle dont les responsabilités comptent la stratégie de l’internet multidimensionnel et le développement commercial du secteur industriel de Cisco Canada. Les membres de son équipe sont tous des experts dans différents domaines et œuvrent à la transformation de leurs secteurs d’activité respectifs (santé, énergie, services financiers, enseignement, immobilier et industrie). Huijbregts est également directeur général du segment des communautés intelligentes et connectées, dont le volet immotique des immeubles intelligents et connectés de Cisco Canada. M. Huijbregts est titulaire de diplômes en construction et architecture de l’université Tilburg Polytechnic et de l’université Delft aux Pays-Bas ainsi que d’un doctorat de l’université Harvard. Il est actuellement professeur de Harvard à la faculté d’études supérieures pour les cadres en aménagement urbain où il donne des cours sur la gestion intelligente des immeubles et des villes. Il siège également à plusieurs conseils d’administration d’universités et d’organismes à but non lucratif.
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