As I travel to meet cities and companies such as Siemens in Germany; Cisco and IBM in the USA and Canada; WIPRO, Tata and Tech Mahindra in India; Chunghwa in Taiwan and countless others in China, Australia and Brazil, I am absolutely amazed at how quickly “smart cities” has jumped onto everyone’s radar screens and part of the popular lexicon around the world. Back in the late 1980’s and early to mid-1990’s I was on a similar track with my “smart people, smart buildings and smart cities” initiatives which came together around SMART95 in Toronto and again in conferences in Silicon Valley and Calgary, among other places. We even started a Canadian Smart Cities Initiative in the mid-1990’s. But when we looked at the word SMART following the depth of discussion held at the SMART95 conference, we were challenged to go beyond just smart infrastructure. Over the years in the late 1990`s my fellow co-founders of ICF and I looked at the entire city and community development spectrum – from infrastructure and data to more holistic levels to engage discussion around the importance of higher education and skills development, involvement of research-based universities and the creation and expansion of knowledge-based industries; we focused on application of innovation and creativity in creating more vibrant and productive communities; and encouraged the importance of social and digital inclusion in creating a bridge to bring all the citizens of a community, state and country into the digital century and broadband economy. We embraced discussion around public advocacy and governance, collaboration, leadership, marketing and sustainability. We also discussed the concepts of liveability and the importance to look at scale when we consider the rural imperative. Over the years we at ICF and hundreds of communities and many more of its citizens around the world have come to refer to this higher order convergence as “Intelligent Communities”.
Yet, in this day of the ubiquitous “smart city” promotion by companies like IBM and others, we are constantly asked what the difference is between smart cities and Intelligent Communities.
Back last summer, I referred in my August 28 2012 blog that there was a big difference between Smart Cities and Intelligent Communities. My colleague Robert Bell did an even better job in his exceptional three-part series on the difference between Smart Cities and Intelligent Communities (refer to ICF Blogs dated December 27, 2012; January 6 and January 15, 2013). From these you will quickly discern that the essential difference between Smart Cities and Intelligent Communities is the former`s focus on urban performance as it relates to urban competitiveness versus the latter`s role in creating a more holistic approach at city and community-building and collaboration. By building and managing urban infrastructure with advanced monitoring and other intelligent systems, a new urban competitiveness is able to be developed based on urban performance and productivity. Urban, environmental and social capital emerge when they are properly valued and taken advantage of. For instance, a city watermain is kept in excellent condition to be able to provide 100% distribution since no leaks are detected along its system and repaired immediately when identified; traffic patterns ease congestion and reduce carbon emissions through effective traffic management systems; smart meters in municipal buildings limit electrical waste; and so on. These raise the bar for everyone in the community; cities are flocking to their nearest technology partners to become "smarter-connected and/or sustainable cities” as promoted by IBM, CISCO and Siemens, among others. A formula for creating smart cities based on urban performance may be seen as:
UP(urc[h+spi]) + ec + sc = UC²
In other words, Urban Performance (urban capital [hard and soft physical infrastructure] + environmental capital + skills capital = Urban Competitiveness (aka “Smart Cities”).
But to take it to the next level in creating Intelligent Communities, I could offer the following formula:
In other words, Smart Cities (Urban Competiveness) + Intellectual Capital [technology/social capital] + Innovation/Creativity + Digital Inclusion + Public Policy Advocacy/ Marketing + Sustainability Inputs = Intelligent Communities. A little tongue in cheek and fun with math, maybe, but it serves to explain that it takes more than urban performance systems to become an intelligent community.
However, to keep it simple - when I look at the image developed by our friends in Stratford Canada that reads: “It takes a Smart City to become an Intelligent Community”, I cannot explain it better to people than this when they ask me the difference between the two.