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Hamilton Economic Development

ICF judge lauds Hamilton’s collaboration

Robert Bell toured the city to assess whether it is the most “intelligent” in the world.

A judge who toured Hamilton to determine whether it is the most “intelligent” community in the world said the city is an “astounding” place and its citizens recognize that.

“There’s a real pride here,” said Robert Bell, co-founder of the Intelligent Community Forum, a U.S.-based think tank founded 15 years ago that studies and promotes the world’s best cities and how those models can be reproduced elsewhere.

“The number of people I’ve talked to who’ve said, ‘I’m a lifelong Hamiltonian, and boy this is just the greatest place on the planet.'”

“That’s what I expect to hear in an ‘Intelligent Community,'” he added.

Bell spent two-and-a-half days this week touring the city, which made ICF’s top-seven list last fall after first making the Smart 21 list the year prior.

He made several stops, including at Hamilton’s Central Library, McMaster University and Mohawk College.

Bell, who called the library “very impressive of its kind”, noted it is “the nerve centre for collaboration” when it comes to organizations working with at-risk youth, newcomers and seniors by introducing them to technology, opportunity and education.

“They have successfully redefined themselves not as a place with books but as a place that’s about knowledge,” he said.

As for McMaster and Mohawk, he noted the connection between the university and college is “world class.”

“The deep collaboration between those two institutions happens almost nowhere,” Bell added.

Rob McCann, president and founder of Clearcable — one of the founding private sector members of ICF Canada — stressed the competition is not about technology but how these advancements can make things better for citizens.

Being in the running for “Most Intelligent Community” isn’t just about trying to achieve the designation, it’s about the steps the community takes to try and get there, he added.

“The journey is discovering what you have in your community and then promoting that to everybody else.”

Now that Bell has finished his tour, he will write a report about his experience that will be passed on to an international jury. From there, they will rank the seven communities, and ICF’s “Intelligent Community of the Year” will be revealed in June in London, England.

Some of the factors the judges consider is broadband infrastructure, a knowledge workforce, digital equality, sustainability and advocacy.

In addition to Hamilton, the other contenders in the top seven include Chiayi City, Taiwan; Espoo, Finland; Ipswich, Australia; Tainan City, Taiwan; Taoyuan, Taiwan; and Winnipeg, Manitoba.

The competition is tough, said Bell, but after visiting Hamilton, he believes it is an “incredibly impressive place.”

“I don’t know many other cities of a half million people … who are in your class,” he said.

Article courtesy of Natalie Paddon, The Hamilton Spectator

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