Surrey named one of the world’s “Most Intelligent Communities”

By January 26, 2015 Innovation Boulevard No Comments
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January 2015 (Vancity Buzz) – Surrey named one of the world’s “Most Intelligent Communities”

If Surrey was named the most intelligent community in the world, would you believe it?

The New York-based Intelligent Community Forum has announced it’s shortlist for the 2015 Intelligent Community of the Year Award, and Surrey, B.C., has made the top 7 list.

The think tank has been naming Intelligent Communities since 1999 and most recently named Toronto, Ontario as the 2014 winner.

Surrey is the only Canadian city to make the list this year, but is joined by Arlington County, Virginia, U.S.; Columbus, Ohio, U.S.; Mitchell, South Dakota, U.S.; Ipswich, Queensland, Australia; New Taipei City, Taiwan; and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The ICF says of Surrey:

“Surrey is a city in transition from a suburban past to a sustainable urban future.  On this road, it seeks to leave behind a reputation for sprawl, crime and limited economic potential.  Home to some of the richest and poorest neighborhoods in the region, Surrey is building an innovation-based knowledge economy offering a much broader range of local opportunity.”

They credit Surrey’s fast growth and sustainability efforts for its place on the list. Surrey is Canada’s third-fastest growing city, taking in 1,000 new residents each month, and delivers most of Vancouver’s economic energy, according to the ICF.

Surrey’s Innovation Boulevard project was highlighted in the rankings as sourcing the city’s development and partnerships between higher education and local business to improve “health technology, clean tech and advanced manufacturing.”

According to a press release from the Intelligent Community Forum, communities are evaluated based on five Intelligent Community Indicators. They are defined as communities that “understand the enormous challenges of the Broadband Economy, and have taken conscious steps to create an economy capable of prospering in it.” The areas need not be big cities or international hubs, but are located in nations both developing and industrialized.

“The Broadband Economy” is a term coined by the ICF to account for the complex way technology and internet shape the global world.

“The Broadband Economy is the product of the build-out of low-cost, high-speed communications and information technology on both the global and local levels.  It began in the 1970s, when the carriers began linking the world’s economic centers with fiber optic networks.  These made possible collaboration and cooperation across time zones and cultures that opened markets, boosted productivity, created employment and improved living standards.” – Intelligent Community Forum

The Intelligent Community Forum Awards Program will wrap up in Toronto on June 11 where one of seven communities will be named 2015’s Intelligent Community of the Year.

Full text of the ICF’s overview on Surrey

“Surrey is a city in transition from a suburban past to a sustainable urban future.  On this road, it seeks to leave behind a reputation for sprawl, crime and limited economic potential.  Home to some of the richest and poorest neighborhoods in the region, Surrey is building an innovation-based knowledge economy offering a much broader range of local opportunity.

Innovation Boulevard
There is no lack of potential in Surrey: it is Canada’s third fastest-growing city, which welcomes 1,000 new residents each month and where residential construction is a major industry.  It is part of the growing metropolitan area of Vancouver, from which it derives most of its economic energy today.  To gain greater control over its destiny, Surrey has developed a diversification strategy calling for deepening the partnership between its institutions of higher learning and local business.  Development is focused on an Innovation Boulevard project, where the city, universities and business are building clusters in health technology, clean tech and advanced manufacturing.  Overseeing the project is the Mayor’s Health Technology Working Group, comprised of 50 representatives from universities, a health authority, nonprofits, business associations, government and developers.  Ten new health technology firms have already moved in, attracted in part by the availability of five new advanced laboratory spaces.  It is one component of a master plan to create several dense and walkable city centers supporting a mix of residential and commercial space linked by light rail.

Smart and Sustainable Plans
Surrey’s past was enabled by the automobile.  A new Sustainability Compact, developed with substantial public consultation, aims to change that dynamic by focusing on emissions reduction and thoughtful adaptation to climate change.  The city has achieved a 70% waste diversion target ahead of schedule and completed a district energy system for city buildings and future high-rise residential towers.  A range of smart-city systems, from a central traffic management center to the MySurrey App, are improving livability and better engaging with citizens.  And for those on the wrong side of the digital divide, the library system is training thousands of residents in digital skills as part of a comprehensive poverty reduction plan.  Surrey’s goal is boost local employment by nearly 50%, which will keep more wealth in the community and better balance the tax burden between residents and business.” – Intelligent Community Forum

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