Waterloo named “Intelligent Community of the Year”

Thinktank Intelligent Community Forum named Waterloo, Canada, home of Blackberry maker Research in Motion, as the 2007 Intelligent Community of the Year today. The ICF made its selection known at its annual Building the Broadband Economy Conference last week. The ICF’s five criteria for the Intelligent Community Award are based on how advanced the communities perform: a) in deploying broadband b) building a knowledge-based workforce c) combining government and private sector industries d) digital inclusion and e) fostering innovation and marketing economic development. There were no communities from the United States listed among the Intelligent Community finalists named this year in January. However, Waterloo had strong competition from Europe, South Korea and elsewhere in Canada. The States last took the title in 2001 via New York City. Conference speakers and participants have cited a lack of coherent United States public policy for broadband technologies, compared with other global regions in the competition, as the rationale in terms of why they weren’t in the running this year. ICF co-founders John Jung and Louis Zacharilla pointed to Waterloo’s 45% job growth rate in high-tech industries, along with their community’s depth of broadband penetration as the deciding factors. Seventy-five percent of the city’s adults have access to the Internet, with 76% of businesses and 47% of households deploying broadband technologies. Besides Research in Motion, Waterloo (population 115,000) is home to three Ontario colleges/universities and produces 10% of the successful start-ups on the Toronto Stock Exchange. ICF feted Waterloo as a global model of cooperation between business, government and academia: “The community has an extraordinary culture of collaboration and reinvestment. People in Waterloo make partnership a priority and are eager to give back to the entire community,” Zacharilla said. The ICF also awarded its Visionary of the Year distinction to Wikipedia developer Wikia, together with its co-founders Angela Beesley and Jimmy Wales.