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ICF names 2020's top 7 intelligent communities

Cities from the US, Canada, Australia and Estonia make the 18th annual list by the Intelligent Community Forum. The 2020 winner will be announced in June.

Tallinn is the only European city to make the list
Tallinn is the only European city to make the list

The Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) has revealed the leading seven intelligent communities of 2020.


The 18th annual Top 7 list includes cities and counties from the US, Canada, Australia and Estonia. One of these seven finalists in the think-tank’s annual awards programme will be named the Intelligent Community of the Year at the ICF Summit on June 18 in Dublin, Ohio.


Intelligent communities


In alphabetical order, the intelligent communities of 2020, selected from small- and mid-sized communities from four nations, are:

  • Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
  • Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  • Hudson, Ohio, US
  • Markham, Ontario, Canada
  • Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia
  • Tallinn, Estonia
  • Westerville, Ohio, US

Five of this year’s Top 7 Intelligent Communities have previously appeared on the list: this is Estonian capital Tallinn’s sixth appearance on the list, and the second such appearance for Hamilton, Hudson, Sunshine Coast and Westerville. Adelaide and Markham are making their first appearance as Top7 Communities.


Taoyuan, Taiwan, is the 2019 Intelligent Community of the Year, and one of these named seven will succeed it.


“These places are not only achieving as separate communities, they are pushing their nations toward new ideas, economic growth and sustainability.”


“A trend of small and mid-size cities evolving into successful Intelligent Communities continues. These places are not only achieving as separate communities, they are pushing their nations toward new ideas, economic growth and sustainability,” said Louis Zacharilla, co-founder, ICF.


“What we are seeing is the realisation of what Taiwan’s national leaders and the state of Ohio are attempting: to create: “Intelligent nations, states and regions. It’s a very exciting time for these smaller cities because they are proving size matters less than adapting.”


The following are snapshots of this year’s 2020 Top7 Intelligent Communities:


  • Adelaide: according to The Economist magazine, Adelaide is among the most liveable cities in the world due to its comfortable Mediterranean climate and coastal location. The community is home to the University of Adelaide, University of South Australia, Flinders University and campuses of Carnegie Mellon and University College London. The educational connection has given birth to multiple research and development parks, including the Waite Research Precinct.

  • Hamilton: was once known as the steel capital of Canada but its economic development effort now focuses on playing to 21st-century strengths. In 2014, it established HCE Telecom as a wholly owned subsidiary of the city. Since its start in 2015, HCE has deployed a 10-gigabit fibre network to serve city facilities, business, universities and hospitals. City leaders also came to recognise the high potential of the city’s universities, colleges and public schools. These institutions have formed a collaborative initiative called Education City to brand Hamilton as a destination for academic success.
  • Hudson: Despite the major industrial disruptions of the last 40 years, the region is relatively prosperous. Its population is highly educated, with 68 per cent of residents over age 25 holding a bachelor’s degree or higher. But like intelligent communities everywhere, it is a place in transition from one economy to the next.

  • Markham: has a bustling tech sector, home to hundreds of corporate head offices and more than 1,000 high-tech and life science companies. Markham is a leader in digital initiatives, from community support and digital training, to partnerships with high-tech industry to next-generation upgrades to municipal services. Markham’s role as a digital pioneer has had great results for the community.

  • Sunshine Coast: worked with business, industry and the Queensland Government to develop the Regional Economic Development Strategy 2013-2033 which provides a 20-year vision and blueprint for sustainable economic growth. The aim is to transition its economy from the challenging times experienced as a result of volatile global financial conditions to a new and more diverse, adaptable, robust and vibrant economy.

  • Tallinn: has put into place the foundations of ICT-based growth that is generating a strong comeback from the financial crisis. Its first wave of IT industry growth was driven by national government spending on an amazing range of e-government applications. With 23 universities and technical schools, Tallinn has the resources for a knowledge workforce; it is focused on expanding access and filling demand for ICT and digital content skills.

  • Westerville: has made a career of embracing change. In 2007, the city began planning the expansion of an existing government fibre network to support smart-grid applications. The process revealed a lack of affordable choices for broadband and data centre services. That ultimately led city council to found WeConnect: an underground fibre network connected to a community-owned data centre and delivering 100Gbps connectivity to municipal service providers, businesses, schools, the local university and research institutes.


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