The Intelligent Community Forum Names Melbourne, Victoria, Australia the 2017 Intelligent Community of the Year

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World's "Most Livable City" Achieves First Place Among the Top 7 Intelligent Communities of 2017

Melbourne is famously the world's most livable city. But is it an Intelligent Community? They answered that question this year.

The Intelligent Community Forum has named Melbourne, Victoria, Australia the 2017 Intelligent Community of the Year. The announcement took place at a dinner ceremony in the prestigious Landmark on the Park venue in Manhattan as the conclusion of the Intelligent Community Forum’s annual Summit.

“Melbourne is famously ‘the world’s most livable city,’ but the question was ‘Are they an Intelligent Community?’” said ICF co-founder Lou Zacharilla. “They answered that question this year. They are redefining the concept of technology, work, and the workspace. They have created a city that functions like an artist’s canvas. They have built an entire system where creativity flourishes, education is harnessed to the workforce, and quality of life has become the city’s greatest competitive advantage. It is a dynamic combination and one the Intelligent Community Form honors.”

Melbourne was selected as the 2017 Intelligent Community of the Year after a year-long evaluation that included a quantitative analysis of extensive data, site inspections by the Intelligent Community Forum, and votes from an international jury made up of experts from around the world. Communities in the Awards program are evaluated based on six Intelligent Community Indicators, along with a seventh criteria, ICF’s annual theme, The Internet of Cities.

During the Summit, which began on June 6 and concluded with tonight’s Awards Dinner, there was networking, business exchanges, master classes and onstage conversations with each of the seven finalists for the ICF Award.

At the dinner, the ICF announced that its 2018 Summit would be held in London. Derek Wyatt, technology entrepreneur and former member of the British Parliament, welcomed all delegates to join him in London in June 2018. The Summit will be produced in collaboration with UK-based NextGen Events.

Melbourne succeeds Montreal, Quebec, Canada as the think-tank’s annual Intelligent Community of the Year. During the Dinner, Montreal Councilor Harout Chitilian addressed the crowd on Montreal’s year as the reigning Intelligent Community and was on hand to pass the torch to Melbourne.

MORE ABOUT MELBOURNE

Melbourne is Australia’s second largest municipality and the capital of the state of Victoria. A leading financial center, this city of 130,000 is at the center of a metropolitan area of 4.5 million people and is hub for the Australian film and television industries. In 2016, The Economist named Melbourne as the world’s most livable city for the sixth year in a row.

Filling the Gaps

Australia, however, ranks 48th in the world for the speed and services available over broadband, due to a long history of monopoly and duopoly markets. That has put Melbourne’s people, institutions and businesses at a disadvantage in reaping the economic and social benefits of the digital revolution. As a midsize city, Melbourne has many competing service providers but also significant gaps in coverage outside its central business district. A group of frustrated Internet users teamed with a community-led pilot project in Melbourne to create Lightning Broadband, which uses a mix of optical fiber and wireless to connect high-rise apartments and business customers at 100 Mbps. Rolling out in Melbourne suburbs now, it is targeting a national build-out in areas underserved by private carriers and bypassed by Australia’s National Broadband Network.

Extending Education

The Melbourne metro region is home to hundreds of two-year colleges and more than a dozen universities. Nearly 47% of its population has a graduate or undergraduate degree. City government and nonprofits have therefore targeted programs at segments of the population that are not participating fully in the knowledge economy. Code Like a Girl runs a series of tech-focused events around the city. Targeting females from 13 to 45, events like Creative Coding and The Internet of (Girl) Things teach basic programming skills while awakening girls and women to new career opportunities.

A small-scale program called Life Experience Skills Sharing pairs young people of post-secondary age with socially isolated older people in sessions where the youngsters teach digital skills. While older citizens learn to navigate the digital world, their younger companions gain in self-esteem, empathy and communication skills. The annual Melbourne Knowledge Week Festival, launched in 2010, consists of conferences, workshops and demos that showcase a smart and innovative city and brings the future city to life today.

Collaborative Innovation

Two projects, one in production and the other in development, are equipping Melbourne with new innovation districts. The Advanced Manufacturing Precinct at RMIT, a public research university, creates collaborative projects between researchers and industry, and equips them with technology and equipment to speed up prototyping and design of the manufacturing process. Early results include a 3D printed spine implant and an improved car seat for the Tesla Model S.

The Carlton Connect Initiative (CCI) aims to bring together people from diverse disciplines to one precinct, where CCI will create and curate partnerships between research and industry locally, nationally and globally. It has established the Melbourne Accelerator Project, whose 24 startup teams have already created 150 jobs and generated A$10 million in revenue. LAB-14 is CCI’s first small-scale demonstration site, where 270 people are at work on projects from computing through artistic creation. When CCI is complete, it will be Australia’s largest innovation district and home to the Melbourne School of Engineering.

Helping the Homeless Online

Like many successful cities, Melbourne faces sharp increases in its cost of living and a shortage of affordable housing, both of which contribute to the problem of homelessness. Though the city offers a wide range of support services finding is difficult for the homeless because information can be outdated, waiting lists long and the rules complex. Melbourne’s answer is Ask Izzy, a new mobile website that connects the homeless, or those at risk of homelessness, with essential services. Research showed that 80% of people experiencing homelessness in Melbourne own a smartphone. Ask Izzy is a free location-based directory that helps them find food, shelter, health and other critical services. It was developed by a partnership among a Melbourne nonprofit, Google, RealEstate.com.au and News Corp Australia.

Sustaining the Community

Melbourne makes sustainability strategy a community affair. Its Smart Blocks Solar Rebate program helps apartment owners and building managers install solar panels to reduce energy costs. The installation of a solar system on common property requires the owner or executive committee to work together to develop the concept, build a business case, and engage tenants, apartment managers and suppliers. The Smart Blocks program provides advice throughout the process. It had installed 144 KW of solar through the end of 2015 and is saving apartment owners an average of A$25,000 in energy costs per year.

Melbourne’s top score for livability is partly the product of a community plan called Future Melbourne. In 2016, the city began to refresh the plan, renaming it Future Melbourne 2026, through meetings of a Citizen’s Jury made up of residents, workers and business executives. To broaden participation, it created a digital forum called Participate Melbourne, which lets members of the community contribute to decision’s shaping the city’s future. The result has been 970 ideas for projects and a program of events that engaged participation from 2,000 people. Meanwhile, the 250,000 registered users of Participate Melbourne logged more than 50,000 sessions in a single year. Working together, the people, businesses and institutions of Melbourne are building a future that leverages the city’s strengths while working to close the gaps left by the past decade of development.

ABOUT THE INTELLIGENT COMMUNITY FORUM

The Intelligent Community Forum (http://www.intelligentcommunity.org), headquartered in New York, is a global movement of nearly 150 cities, metro regions and counties with a think tank at its heart. ICF studies and promotes the best practices of the world's Intelligent Communities as they adapt to the new demands and seize the opportunities presented by information and communications technology (ICT). To help cities and regions build prosperous economies, solve social problems and enrich local cultures, the Intelligent Community Forum conducts research, hosts global events, publishes books, and produces its high-profile annual international awards program. The Forum has two Institutes in North America dedicated to the study of the movement, with more institutes planned. Global leaders, thinkers, and media observers follow and participate in the ongoing global dialogue initiated by the Intelligent Community Forum. In 2012 ICF was invited to participate at the Nobel Peace Prize conference in Oslo and in 2014, its model and work was recognized by the U.S. Department of Commerce under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which, according to the American government, was "aimed at creating a more flexible and responsive system of workforce development to meet the needs of employers looking to fill 21st century jobs.” The Forum’s membership is made up of 145 designated Intelligent Communities worldwide, which is represented by mayors and key civic leaders. For more information, go to http://www.intelligentcommunity.org/icf_membership. For more details on the Intelligent Community Forum’s recent publications and programs, http://www.intelligentcommunity.org.

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