Recommended reading: The Future of Cities – The Internet of Everything will Change How We Live

November 13th, 2014

Here is an excerpt from “The Future of Cities – The Internet of Everything will Change How We Live”, an article by John Chambers and Wim Elfrink from the October 31, 2014 edition of Foreign Affairs, published by the Council on Foreign Relations.

As much as the Internet has already changed the world, it is the Web’s next phase that will bring the biggest opportunities, revolutionizing the way we live, work, play, and learn.

That next phase, which some call the Internet of Things and which we call the Internet of Everything, is the intelligent connection of people, processes, data, and things. Although it once seemed like a far-off idea, it is becoming a reality for businesses, governments, and academic institutions worldwide. Today, half the world’s population has access to the Internet; by 2020, two-thirds will be connected. Likewise, some 13.5 billion devices are connected to the Internet today; by 2020, we expect that number to climb to 50 billion. The things that are—and will be—connected aren’t just traditional devices, such as computers, tablets, and phones, but also parking spaces and alarm clocks, railroad tracks, street lights, garbage cans, and components of jet engines.

All of these connections are already generating massive amounts of digital data—and it doubles every two years. New tools will collect and share that data (some 15,000 applications are developed each week!) and, with analytics, that can be turned into information, intelligence, and even wisdom, enabling everyone to make better decisions, be more productive, and have more enriching experiences.

Read the complete article here.

How Smart is Your ‘Smart City’ and Why Should You Care?

December 17th, 2013

How Smart is Your Smart City and Why Should You Care?

William Hutchison

This article by William G. Hutchison appeared in a recent issue of BRICS Business Magazine. A version of the article is also available in Russian. (pdf)

Dozens of urban development projects, from Malaysia to Siberia, claim to be technologically advanced, comfortable and ‘sophisticated,’ with a cognitive-cultural economy to boot. They all need to sort out what they really are – and whether or not their plans are obsolete.

Not all ‘smart city’ investments are very smart. Today we have billions of dollars being invested in transforming our cities, towns and rural districts into ‘smart cities,’ ‘intelligent communities,’ ‘living cities,’ ‘sustainable cities’ and ‘green cities.’ Even the names are confusing. What’s happening? Why all the fuss and investment? And are the strategies the same in the BRICS nations as they are in developed countries? What about small emerging markets? Can everyone participate and benefit in this new technology-driven urban transformation?

First, what’s happening, and why should you care? Technology transformation and new product innovations have created the rapid growth of smartphones and tablets with more power than the mainframe computers that filled large rooms 50 years ago. But this is just the tip of an iceberg of thousands of new applications that have turned our cars into computers-on-wheels, and disrupted thousands of other products and systems. The camera market is just one example: digital cameras put Polaroid and Kodak out of business. The room-sized computer now fits on the head of a pin, but who cares? The question is, what are the applications and how can we benefit from them?

It was not until the early 1990s, 20 years ago, that the concept of ‘smart’ or ‘intelligent’ communities was first introduced into the public mind, with the appearance of Singapore’s Intelligent Island, Silicon Valley’s Smart Valley, and Smart Toronto. But like all disruptive innovations, this technology-driven wave of urban transformation has taken time to gestate before coming out in full force to make obsolete those cities and towns that are not innovating to transform themselves and keep ahead of the wave.

Comparisons are drawn with cities and towns in Britain and Europe which prospered when canals were important forms of transportation. They lost their economic power when the railway ran in another direction or when, in the U.S., the new interstate highways bypassed prosperous towns, which then declined.

When engaging in urban transformation or new community development, the high-level goals for a community can generally be categorized as economic, social or environmental. Naturally these are not independent of each other, but all activities and goals usually fit into one or two of those three categories. Transforming towards a new future state requires many things, but innovation is certainly a common theme. The three categories are a useful reference point when discussing the terms ‘smart,’ ‘intelligent,’ ‘living,’ ‘green’ and ‘sustainable.’

Some people use ‘sustainable’ and ‘green’ in the same breath, to mean that communities with more effective green policies will be more sustainable; sometimes the terms are used interchangeably.

The ‘living cities’ movement has its roots in the work of Jane Jacobs and other social pioneers who, in essence, were focused on urban designs that created great places and neighborhoods. They are characterized by plenty of parks, the elimination of high-speed expressways that cut through cities and neighborhoods, great facilities for cycling, and a general focus on the citizens’ socializing and comfort.

‘Smart’ cities have many degrees of smartness. Some people claim they have a smart city when they have automated their traffic lights and installed cameras for increased security. It is interesting that many of today’s smart city automations are following the same dynamic that government and businesses followed 40 to 50 years ago. There was no overarching strategic approach or framework within which the investment in technology was supporting strategic goals. Automation was really viewed as a cost reduction and productivity improvement for a specific application. There is nothing wrong with that approach, but it misses the extra value that is available when you tie automation to an overall strategic framework.

In the late 1980s the concept of ‘strategic alignment’ was introduced by two MIT professors. They used the term to describe the alignment between an organization’s investment in technology and its strategic goals and directions. Strategic alignment seems like an obvious requirement in business and government systems today, but it was mainly ignored for the first 30 years of business automation and it is being ignored today in many smart city initiatives.

So it sometimes seems as if we are starting over in this relatively new area of applying technology to urban life and systems, as we create the ‘Live, Learn, Work and Play’ environment for tomorrow’s citizens.

But an evolution is occurring in the maturing of smart city systems, from the automation of a few specific applications like traffic lights and security features, to systems that do include strategic alignment. To help reduce the confusion of terms it is useful to think in terms of Smart City 1.0 and 2.0 – and now the early stages of Smart City 3.0.

Smart City 1.0 is like those old business and government systems where individual applications were automated without reference to the overall strategy of the organization. Smart City 2.0 has early forms of strategic alignment. Smart City 3.0 includes sophisticated strategic alignment and early forms of intelligence in the applications and communications infrastructure. Naturally there are no hard boundaries, but in general these terms are useful when discussing the differences between applications in various countries and regions of the world, and the difference between a smart city and an intelligent community.

The phrase ‘intelligent community’ was defined in the late 1990s by the New York-based Intelligent Community Forum (ICF). An intelligent community consists of broadband, knowledge workforce, innovation, digital inclusion, advocacy.

Smart21 Communities for 2014 by ICF

Community Country Population
Arlington County, Virginia USA 210,300
Coffs Harbour,New South Wales Australia 70,900
Columbus, Ohio USA 809,800
Heraklion, Crete Greece 150,000
Hsinchu City Taiwan 427,000
Kingston, Ontario Canada 159,500
Mitchell, South Dakota USA 15,000
Montreal Metropolitan Area, Quebec Canada 3,957,700
Nairobi County Kenya 4,000,000
New Taipei City Taiwan 3,949,800
Parkland County, Alberta Canada 30,500
Prospect, South Australia Australia 20,000
Quebec City, Quebec Canada 728,900
Rio de Janeiro Brazil 6,323,000
Sunshine Coast, Queensland Australia 322,600
Taoyuan County Taiwan 2,038,000
Toronto, Ontario Canada 2,791,000
Walla Walla Washington USA 31,900
Wanganui New Zealand 43,000
Whittlesea, Victoria Australia 176,500
Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada 778,400

For 14 years the ICF has held an annual competition for the Intelligent Community of the Year, based on the mentioned elements. Each year they add an area of focus, like innovation or collaboration. They receive a few hundred applications each summer, narrow them down to 21 semifinalists – the ‘Smart 21’ – and then again down to seven finalists in January. The winner is announced at a gala in New York in June. Singapore, Stockholm, Eindhoven and Taipei are among the past winners of the award.

The main differences between an intelligent community and other designations are the existence of an overall strategic framework, collaboration between all community players in creating that strategy and agreeing goals, and the use of technology in achieving those goals.

For example, if it is agreed that the community wants interactive healthcare services in the home, through communication with a nurse or doctor via camera, then the technology, regulations and processes are implemented to provide the service.

Technology is not the end goal: it is the enabler, in all cases. All applications and services fit within an overall strategic community framework that is created before the automation investment begins. Smart City 2.0 and definitely 3.0 approach this standard.

So where are we with these urban transformation initiatives in various parts of the world? Really effective and open collaboration between citizens and their governments is generally more prevalent in Western democracies and developed countries. The more autocratic the national and municipal leadership, the less there is community collaboration, and the more the government decides what is required. That difference usually leads to an automation approach characteristic of Smart City 1.0: automation of specific functions, but very little strategic alignment. This is not intended as a comment on the pros and cons of various forms of government; it is merely a statement of fact, as many other factors determine the most appropriate form of government and governance.

As in the case of early business automation, each application or project can still be valuable in terms of cost reduction and/or productivity improvement. In civic terms it may be improved traffic flow with a positive impact on gas emissions and overall efficiency, or improved security in terms of cameras, lighting and sensors. But it is in the Western democracies where we are generally seeing the evolution of Smart City 3.0 and intelligent communities. They are the ones gaining the extra leverage from their investment by connecting it to an overall strategic framework that also includes the power of citizen participation in establishing priorities.

Cities, towns and rural areas around the world have great stories to tell about their efforts to transform themselves. The internet is spreading throughout Africa, and broadband is expanding and increasing in speed everywhere.

On 21 October this year the ICF announced its Smart 21 shortlist for the 2014 Intelligent Community of the Year award. They include one community in each of Kenya, Greece, Brazil and New Zealand, as well as six in Canada, four each in the U.S. and Australia, and three in Taiwan.

Chinese, Japanese and Korean cities have won the award in previous years, but India and Russia have not yet made the list. Having said that, there is an impressive wave of new smart city activity in both countries, and cities in places like Kazakhstan will quickly move up the ranks as a result of their present initiatives.

Touting the wide ranging benefits of smart cities in Kazakhstan

May 30th, 2013

Bill Hutchison was interviewed about the wide ranging benefits of smart cities at a recent Media City forum in Kazakhstan.

Waterloo Mayor Brenda Halloran greets Russian Investor Serguei Kouzmine: Quantum Computing Investor Praises Waterloo as ”Quantum Valley”

February 4th, 2013

CATA Alliance

Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, Canada – February 2, 2013 Serguei Kouzmine , Managing Partner of Q-Wave Capital, travelled to Waterloo to assess investment opportunities in the fields of Quantum Computing and Nanotechnology. “This is an unbelievable facility,” said Mr. Kouzmine of the Institute for Quantum Computing. “It has everything; I am looking forward to a return visit very soon.”

“We see our quantum-nano hub as the new “Quantum Valley” of the next era,” said Waterloo Mayor Brenda Halloran. “The build-up of the software industry had its roots in ‘Silicon Valley’; now we are reprising it in a new age with Waterloo’s Quantum Valley.”

“Quantum and nano-technology will quite simply revolutionize the world,” stated i-CANADA Chair Bill Hutchison. “They will transform every sector of our work and lives. Waterloo is a new Eden.”

Read the complete announcement here.

New FCC Initiative Confirms i-CANADA High-Speed Goal

January 23rd, 2013

i-CANADA Chair: “Canada must to return to global leadership level”

January 22, 2013 — Bill Hutchison, Chair of i-CANADA, said today that an FCC initiative to put 1Gps speed into at least one city in each state by 2015 “is another important initiative that demonstrates that i-CANADA is bang on in our goal for Canadian communications – we know what we’re talking about.”

i-CANADA is the national movement to create a nation of Intelligent Communities, all enjoying the economic prosperity and full employment that comes from immersion in the global “ideas economy”.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski told the U.S. Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C. on Friday last week, that he was starting a new push for fast networks that he called the Gigabit City Challenge.

Gigabit-speed Internet access stimulates technology innovation and associated economic growth, Genachowski said: “The U.S. needs a critical mass of gigabit communities nationwide so that innovators can develop next-generation applications and services that will drive economic growth and global competitiveness,” Genachowski cited Google’s new network in Kansas City and a fiber network built by a local utility in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he said Amazon.com and other companies have created more than 3,700 new jobs over the past three years.

“Our Governors Council Resolution calling for 1Gps speed for all Canadians by 2020 is more than a realistic expectation,” said Mr. Hutchison. “It is an absolute necessity if we are to keep stride with the nations of Asia, Europe and Africa. Canadians need access to the kinds of services that the ultra-broadband networks deliver, and our knowledge industries need to use these networks to create the profitable sectors that others are obtaining.

“At the moment we are moving forward to expand our Governors’ Council to 100 members in support of the Motion passed by our Governors’ Council at our October Summit, to encourage the creation of a national coalition involving all relevant parties to create a plan that will ensure availability of 1 GBS service where relevant for all Canadians by 2020. The service must be globally competitive or better as to features, cost and performance in order to raise Canada to be one of the world’s leaders in communications infrastructure and services. We were there prior to and up to the 1980s.”

Recently, i-CANADA delegates met with Jean-Pierre Blais, the new Chair of the CRTC, to support his position on the importance of a more connected Canada. Blais brings a strong legal background and a comprehensive understanding of the broadcasting and telecommunications sectors to his role at the CRTC. His goals are to:

  • Sharpen the Commission’s focus on the public interest—putting Canadians at the centre of their communication system
  • Give Canadians access to compelling and diverse, creative content
  • Ensure that Canadians can connect to innovative communications services at reasonable prices
  • Give healthy competition among multiple service providers

The i-CANADA delegation exchanged views with Chairman Blais’ about a consumer-centric, open network, from a 360-degree circle of interests, including novel financing methods, community networking, ultra-fast broadband, and large-scale urban development.

“It is clear that Canada’s global slide demands a new approach: consumer-centric access to diverse creative content over competitive networks,” said Mr, Hutchison. “We need to see Canada adopting the kind of high-strategy approach of the FCC.”

See also:

To find out the results of this meeting or to speak with a representative from i-CANADA, please contact Elaine Dean: elaine.dean@sympatico.ca

In other news:

IT World Canada

i-Canada pushing ultra-broadband plan

Group wants a broad coalition from the public and private sector to come up with a plan so every Canadian home gets 1 Gbps Internet access by 2020

With the long promised federal digital economy strategy nowhere in sight, a group of Canadian political, business and private sector leaders continues to push for an independent coalition to create the framework to build an ultra-broadband network.

Read the complete article here.

Adopting a Canadian Patent/Innovation Box

January 3rd, 2013

Adoption of a Patent or Innovation Box to help Accelerate Intellectual Property (IP) Exploitation and Commercialization Success in Canada: Expert Views Support Advocacy Campaign

CATA Alliance

CATAAlliance has launched an advocacy campaign to encourage the adoption of a Canadian form of the “Patent Box”, i.e. an “Innovation Box”. The Canadian “Innovation Box” would be tailored to provide a preferential, competitive tax regime for the successful exploitation and commercialization of Intellectual Property (IP), including patents, in Canada.

The Campaign, concludes, “The key is how to keep IP (Intellectual Property) at home and commercialize it. Our foreign affiliate rules are not neutral with respect to taxation of IP income taxed in Canada vs. IP income taxed in a low tax jurisdiction and then brought back to Canada tax free. One approach is lower corporate tax rates – starting with low tax rates on income derived from Canadian developed IP”.

Learn more here.

APEC 2012 CEO Summit: World Leaders Discuss “Living Cities”

September 11th, 2012

APEC 2012 CEO Summit

No one disputes the reality of rapidly increasing urbanization. More than 50% of the world’s population now lives in cities and that number will grow to 70% by 2050. With this intense pace of urbanization, it isn’t surprising that 70% of the world’s carbon emissions is already generated in cities. Along with the pressing problems generated by rapid city building, however, a host of new technologies have been brought to the table to provide unprecedented innovations and improvements to the quality of our everyday life. Take, for instance, the performance of computer semiconductor technology that has been doubling every 18 months and will continue to improve at the same rate in the foreseeable future. These technology improvements have brought us smart phones and iTablets with more power than million dollar mainframe computers in the 1960s.

The terms “Smart City,” “Intelligent Community” and “Ubiquitous City” are just a few of the many phrases created by consultants, academics and technology providers to describe communities that are effectively blending new technologies with new processes to manage their urban growth and environmental challenges and establish new levels of prosperity and quality of life for their citizens.

The phrase “Living Cities” has been coined by the National Business Center of Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and Ernst & Young to embrace all of the other terms and represent the next phase of thinking about future opportunities in city evolution. This topic will also be discussed at the Asia Pacific Economic Council’s 2012 CEO Summit in Vladivostok, Russia, from September 7th to 8th.

I have the honor of chairing an impressive panel of leaders who will discuss the topic of Living Cities under the title of Making Cities Fit and Competitive for Business, their People and the Planet. The panel is comprised of Sergey Sobyanin, Mayor of Moscow; Oleg Govorun, Minister of Regional Development of The Russian Federation; José Miguel Castro, CEO of the Metropolitan Municipality of Lima, Peru and Leung Chun-ying, Chief Executive, Hong Kong. They will discuss their governments’ priority initiatives as they prepare to meet new demands and opportunities in the coming decade and beyond. I look forward to engaging in a lively, informative discussion about the meaning of Living Cities today with these cutting edge leaders and will write about our panel in a follow-up article in this newspaper.

To set the stage for our panel discussion, I am particularly interested in the fact that the panelists represent such a diversity of experiences, each with geographically specific challenges and opportunities. At the same time, these challenges and their solutions may not be completely unique to each city; in different ways, new computer and communications technologies can be used to benefit all Living Cities by creating cities that feature a new calibre of performance in city management and the delivery of city services, as well as new economic, social and environmental opportunities for their citizens, companies and institutions.

The “Smart City/Intelligent Community Movement” has a twenty-five year history with many successes. In the early 90s a number of technology companies created Smart Valley in Silicon Valley to increase their collaboration with the broader community and provide economic and social benefits for their citizens. “Intelligent Island” was an early 90s Singapore initiative that has been superseded by four subsequent multiyear plans, the latest being IN2015, one of the world’s most impressive Intelligent Community strategies covering all aspects of life in Singapore. By 2015, Singapore will have the world’s most advanced city wide communications infrastructure providing the foundation for implementing IN2015. The entire city will become the world’s leading living laboratory for a city of the future in terms of leveraging technology and new processes for a host of economic and social benefits.

These are just a couple of examples of cities at the leading edge of the Living Cities movement. Today, 400 communities apply each year to compete in the New York based Intelligent Community Forum’s annual competition for Intelligent Community of the Year. Previous winners include Stockholm, Singapore, Taiwan, Waterloo and Calgary in Canada and Eindhoven.

Why all the interest in Smart Cities and Intelligent Communities? It is because over the past 25 years, the cities winning the awards have achieved faster rates of growth in their economy, employment, innovation indices and social prosperity than their neighbors or competitors who have not embraced these new opportunities.

The high speed broadband revolution is an important new contributor to success. The new communications infrastructures can have the same impact as the railways and interstate highways when they were introduced in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. You lost your status and growth if they bypassed your city and you had new opportunities when your city embraced them. Similarly, today, opportunities and growth hinge on a city’s receptiveness toward innovation. For example, Chattanooga, Tennessee was a TOP 7 finalist in the 2011 ICF competition for Intelligent Community of the Year; it was the first city in the US to install a complete fiber communications service offering citizens and businesses a service of one gigabit or one billion bits per second at low cost to all. Within two years, the city had attracted $4 billion of new investment from three large multinational companies including Volkswagen. Chattanooga’s communications infrastructure played a large part in the city’s turnaround.

Managing the continual growth of our cities and revitalizing them with new strategies, processes and technologies is no doubt a challenge. But the strategies and rewards of capitalizing on Smart Cities and Intelligent Communities have been proven over the past twenty-five years. What will the next twenty-five years hold? I look forward to hearing the thoughts of four of the world’s leaders who are wrestling daily to take advantage of the new Living Cities opportunities and reporting on their comments and observations following the APEC 2012 CEO Summit.

This address was also used as the basis of an article published in Russian here.

Kicking off a busy fall with i-CANADA, Living Cities and more

September 7th, 2012

Here’s hoping everyone had a restful and restoring summer … because it’s going to be a busy fall.

On September 8th, I will be chairing a panel of big city mayors of Moscow, Hong Kong and Lima along with the Minister of Regional Development of Russia. The topic for discussion is “APEC 2012 CEO Summit: World Leaders Discuss ‘Living Cities'”. I’ve also written an article on the subject that will be published in a national Russian newspaper prior to the conference, which I hope to excerpt or reprint here on this blog afterwards.

CyberaOn the evening of October 1st, I will speak at the Cybera conference in Banff as part of the i-CANADA segment in their program. I will actually speak to the Banff conference by live video from Moscow, as I’ve done twice recently, to Stratford and to a York region conference a few months ago.

On October 21st, we will have the i-CANADA Summit and Governors’ Council meeting in Montreal and I will speak.

On October 23rd I will speak and chair a panel at the World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT) conference in Montreal.

On November 1-2 in Moscow I will be participating in a Forum on Open Innovation that is certain to be lively and eye-opening.

Let this busy fall begin!

Kansas City Launches Gigabit City Summit

July 3rd, 2012

Described as a “global dialog on smart and connected cities,” the Gigabit City Summit series aims to provide a platform for peer cities to exchange ideas and share critical factors in successful adoption and use of high-speed broadband.

Google Connects KC

On Wednesday, June 27th, local broadband talk in Kansas City went global early in the morning at the local Cisco headquarters. Gathering in a state-of-the-art telepresence room, city leaders from both sides of the state line joined a cadre of local and international strategists and smart city experts in discussing ways cities can become smarter by learning from each other.

That inaugural Gigabit City Summit was the first in a 12-part monthly series of teleconferences that will address how high-speed broadband can be harnessed to improve areas of civic life, including education, social justice, digital inclusion, urban innovation, workplace development, healthcare, entrepreneurship, and more.

Learn more here.

Excited to open collaboration opportunities with Moscow-based Ernst & Young Centre for Smart City Innovation

May 18th, 2012

I’m very pleased to announce the following:

CANADA, RUSSIA WORK TOGETHER TO CREATE SMART COMMUNITIES: William Hutchison opens collaboration opportunities with Moscow-based Ernst & Young Centre for Smart City Innovation

Bill Hutchison in Moscow

17 May 2012: Ottawa, Moscow — Today in Russia, Ernst and Young (Russia) announced the creation of The Ernst & Young Centre for Smart City Innovation. Based in Moscow, the Centre will provide thought leadership and strategic advice for Ernst & Young’s public and private sector clients throughout Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States, “CIS”. William G. (Bill) Hutchison, Co-Founder and Chair of i-CANADA and CATA Director, has been appointed Executive Director of the Centre. Bill will also continue in his role as Chair of i-CANADA thereby facilitating global collaboration and opportunities for new business initiatives between Russian and Canadian Smart/Intelligent Communities and their companies.

The Ernst & Young Centre for Smart City Innovation will provide advice on strategies and implementation plans, based on global lessons learned and the experience of Ernst & Young professionals who have hands-on management experience in various Smart City initiatives around the world. The Centre will cover not only smart technology and environmental dimensions, but will focus on social innovation, governance and collaboration subjects as well.

Read the complete announcement here.

For more insights into smart cities, intelligent communities and the Ernst & Young Center for Smart City Innovation, download this background document (PDF, ~465K).