'Intelligent' awards a marketing opportunity for N.B. cities, corporate sponsors
Fredericton, Moncton join cities in U.S., France, Sweden, Estonia, Netherlands for honour
The international think-tank that has shortlisted two New Brunswick cities in a world ranking of "intelligent" communities partly based on connectivity and broadband usage says the competition is a marketing opportunity for corporate sponsors and the cities alike.
The Intelligent Community Forum is holding a conference in New York this week, where it will announce which of seven finalists it considers the most "intelligent" community in the world.
Moncton and Fredericton are both on the short list of seven finalists, something provincial and municipal officials have been bragging about for weeks.
"This is just another part of what we're doing to position ourselves as a city of choice for people to either move here or stay here," said Paul Thomson, Moncton's director of communications.
The two New Brunswick communities are joined on the list by cities in the United States, France, Sweden, Estonia and the Netherlands.
Louis Zacharilla, a co-founder of the forum, told CBC News that the broadband and satellite communications companies that sponsor the event also stand to gain, because the criteria for making the short list include access to broadband internet, the very service many of the companies sell.
"For them, if they can develop relationships with these parts of the world, and be the first ones to put in this communications infrastructure … it can probably be very good business for them," Zacharilla.
"You know, they have shareholders and when they make investments and support organizations like ours, they're thinking about the markets in the long term."
Cities to make 30-minute presentation
Each city at this week's conference will give a 30-minute presentation that will be posted to the forum's website.
Zacharilla said the think-tank hopes those presentations will help persuade other communities to try to make the most-intelligent list in coming years, including by investing in broadband services.
"What we're really trying to do is communicate to as many communities as we can out there anyplace in the world, that no matter how far down you think you're gone, and how hopeless it may look, there are other communities that have been in the same place, they've taken these criteria that we've studied, and they've risen," he said.
"And it can happen everywhere. It can happen to any community. All you need is leadership and we think inspiration. You need to look at what others have done."
The think-tank handed out its first award in 2002. Last year, the Gangnam district in Seoul, South Korea, won the title.
The think-tank looks at different criteria to choose the most intelligent city, such as how many high-tech workers a community has, what kind of access there is to broadband, and its affordability to businesses and residential consumers.
Those factors add up to two-thirds of the final score while the final one-third comes from a jury of about 70 people.
The decision was made on Sunday, but the final decision will not be announced until Friday in New York.
N.B. government sending delegation to event
Along with city officials from Moncton and Fredericton, the New Brunswick government is sending a delegation to New York for the conference.
Many of the companies that sponsor the forum, such as Research In Motion, Atria Networks, Globecomm Systems, Intelsat, Skylogic and Cisco Systems, also sell many of the services that help cities rank high in the scoring system.
Cisco Systems installed Moncton's city bus wireless network system.
The conference is also receiving funds from several government agencies, including the Atlantic Lotteries Corp., the Canadian Consulate General in New York and the New Brunswick government.
The only other government listed as a "friend of the forum" on its conference program is the Isle of Man.
This year, more than 400 communities entered the forum's competition. The ICF chose the "Smart 21" from that group and then pared that list down to the seven "most intelligent."
This is Fredericton's second time on the list, also making the top seven in 2008.