Ottawa, January 24, 2011... i-Canada Chairman Bill Hutchison has sent his congratulations to officials in two Canadian cities -- Stratford and Windsor-Essex -- on their achievement of making the list as one of the Top Seven Intelligent Communities of the year.
"To have two Canadian cities among the Top Seven in this competition says a lot about Canada's capabilities and potential," said i-Canada Chair Bill Hutchison. i-Canada is a program driven by grass roots business, civic and academic leaders, dedicated to raising Canada to "i-Nation" status through the development of intelligent communities across the country. The world's leading i-Nations consistently have high rankings in innovation, productivity, job creation, and social prosperity.
Awarded by the Intelligent Communities Forum based in New York, the Top Seven are communities that provide a model of economic and social development in the 21st Century using information and communications technology to power growth, address social challenges and preserve and promote culture.
"We are truly thrilled and grateful that the City of Stratford made the ICF 2011 Top Seven," said Paul West, Business Development Manager of Rhyzome Networks, a keystone in the development of Stratford's high-speed network."Stratford has a proven track record of "economic re-invention" evolving over the past 100 years. The digital economy has been a focus for our community on many levels including Mayor Dan Mathieson City Council, City staff, local business, healthcare, arts, tourism and education.
"When we identified the value of the Intelligent Community Forum, a team was formed representing many facets of Stratford to develop a winning plan. One strength of this approach included connecting with groups like i-Canada and Waterfront Toronto. The ideas, advice and encouragement from Barry Gander and Bill Hutchison were instrumental in developing an effective ICF submission."
"We are indeed honoured that Windsor and Essex County were recognized as a 2011 Top 7 Intelligent Community," said Brian Gregg, Chief Administrative Officer, County of Essex and Chair of the Connecting Windsor-Essex Smart Community initiative. "Our Smart Community program has been in existence for fifteen years. Infrastructure investments made in the past have been fundamental in assisting our communities and organizations respond to the recent economic downturn.
Windsor and Essex County are succeeding in emerging from the current economic crisis by creating new knowledge and efficiency through collaboration. The effective use of resources among community stakeholders has fostered the transformation of our economy and aided in the increasingly positive and hopeful outlook of our citizens. Collaboration has become the infrastructure of imagination and innovation".
"Stratford and Windsor-Essex illustrate what can be done when an entire community gets behind a powerful vision," noted Bill Hutchison. "We are dedicated to supporting and ensuring that other communities in Canada obtain the tools needed to follow in their lead."
Two Canadian cities - Calgary and Waterloo - have previously won the Intelligent Community of the Year Award from the ICF, and two others – Fredericton and Moncton - have been in the Top Seven category. These communities have all agreed to work with i-Canada to share their ideas and lessons learned in the drive to have a minimum of thirty Canadian communities, large and small, local and remote, all competing to be the world's leading Intelligent Community.
According to the ICF announcement, Stratford's rise to Top Seven came because the city took "major steps to create a 21st Century economy. A city--owned company has laid 60 km of optical fiber and used it as the backbone of a public WiFi network. The University of Waterloo has opened a Stratford campus offering a Masters of Business Entrepreneurship and Technology program. This has given rise to the Stratford Institute, a think tank focusing on digital media. Broadband and IT have also addressed the challenges of rural healthcare. Eighty percent of Stratford's family physicians are on a broadband e-health portal for health records, administration and after-hours care, which has helped ease the region's shortage of family practitioners."
One of the reasons that Windsor-Essex made the ICF list is because of a cooperative fiber network, WEDnet, that meets the needs of governmental, institutional and educational facilities throughout the region. Windsor-Essex is partnering with other communities to extend broadband to people in underserved rural areas. Government has collaborated with business to create a software technology alliance to attract entrepreneurs, mentor existing businesses and share resources for growth.
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i-Canada is dedicated to the creation of smart communities across the country, in which Canadian communications are the rails of light carrying knowledge and ideas between the shining communities of a global intelligent economy. Its goal is to work with 30 Canadian communities, rural and local, to transform them into Intelligent Communities. "First the community, then the country", is the motto that i-Canada uses to visualize the evolution of Canada into one of the world's Intelligent Nations.
The Intelligent Community Forum is a think tank that studies the economic and social development of the 21st Century community. Whether in industrial or developing nations, communities are challenged to create prosperity, stability and cultural meaning in a world where jobs, investment and progress increasingly depend on broadband communications. For the 21st Century community, connectivity is a double-edge sword: threatening established ways of life on the one hand, and offering powerful new tools to build prosperous, inclusive economies on the other. The Intelligent Community Forum seeks to share the best practices of the world's Intelligent Communities in adapting to the demands of the Broadband Economy by conducting research, hosting events, publishing newsletters and producing an international awards program.