Last week, the city of Columbus, Ohio, took home the title of the 2015 Intelligent Community of the Year, besting international competition from cities in Australia, Taiwan, Brazil, and Canada, as well as stateside competition from communities in Virginia and South Dakota.
Declaring that the rebirth of the American Midwest was in full view for the world to see, the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) crowned Columbus, saying the city has a relentless embrace of new ideas. Columbus had reached the Smart21 finals of the ICF’s Awards program for the past three years and advanced to the Top7 each of the last two years.
“I congratulate the leadership and citizens of Columbus. This prestigious announcement confirms what most of us here already know – Columbus and Ohio are at the forefront of the knowledge economy,” said John Carey, chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents. “Members of the international jury came to this decision after meeting with dozens of local officials, including staff members of the Ohio Technology Consortium, which provides Ohioans with nationally regarded resources in high-performance computing, networking, resource sharing and online learning services.”
Columbus was selected after a yearlong 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 five Intelligent Community Indicators; the ICF’s annual theme, this year The Revolutionary Community, served as a sixth criterion in the evaluation process.
“I am honored that the energy, passion, and intellect of our faculty and students at Ohio State have contributed to Columbus being named the 2015 Intelligent Community of the Year,” said Caroline Whitacre, vice president for research at The Ohio State University. “Through our research programs, external partnerships, student activities and linkages via the Ohio Technology Consortium, we are able to empower groundbreaking research and economic development activities for a diverse statewide network, leading to enhanced workforce development across the region.”
ICF praised Columbus for programs such as TechColumbus (now Rev1 Ventures), the cultural revitalization of the East Franklinton neighborhood, initiatives to make higher education more accessible for low-income residents, and for its regional approach to economic development with surrounding communities including the former Top7 Intelligent Community of Dublin, Ohio.
Lou Zacharilla, a co-founder of ICF, said Columbus also has a solid broadband infrastructure, effective research institutions, and a local government that has perfected the art of enabling each of its knowledge assets to collaborate.
The collaboration plays out in broadband, where the partners have interconnected their fiber networks to support schools and universities, hospitals, research institute, and government facilities, ICF stated in a release. This continuing investment in advanced broadband has helped attract multiple competing commercial providers as well as enable a unified traffic management system and mobile solutions for the city workforce, including first responders.
“This great achievement was awarded to Columbus in part by leveraging OARnet’s 100 Gigabit per second statewide network,” said Moez Chaabouni, Columbus’ deputy director for technology, after the city made the competition’s final round. “The backbone connects the City of Columbus to the world and delivers fast and reliable city services throughout.”
Storied partnerships between OH-TECH organizations and Columbus groups – and others around the state – have a legacy of spurring innovation and discovery. OARnet connected Columbus’ Nationwide Children’s Hospital with a rural medical center in southern Ohio to better diagnose newborns. A researcher working to better understand the atmosphere of Mars accessed vital information through OhioLINK, a consortium of more than 100 public and private college and university libraries, along with the State Library of Ohio. College and university students regularly reach online tutoring partners through eStudent Service offerings. Meanwhile, researchers at engineering design firms, such as Columbus’ Emc2, leverage the powerful resources of the Ohio Supercomputer Center to evaluate materials through modeling and simulation.
“We take great pride in providing the network infrastructure that delivers critical communication channels to these and many other award-winning projects and organizations,” said Pankaj Shah, executive director for OARnet and the Ohio Supercomputer Center. “Our goal is to empower our communities to accomplish the many great things they are doing.”
Columbus succeeds Toronto as the think-tank’s annual Intelligent Community of the Year. Columbus is the fourth American city to capture ICF’s top honor, and the first since 2012 (Riverside, California, USA). LaGrange, Georgia was named in 2000 and New York City earned the top spot in 2001.
The Ohio Technology Consortium (OH-TECH), the technology arm of the Ohio Board of Regents, delivers world-class technologies, information and expertise to provide Ohioans with a strong foundation for education and workforce, scientific research and business innovation. OH-TECH delivers business, communications and technical support to its co-located member organizations — the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC), Ohio Academic Resources Network (OARnet), Ohio Library Information Network (OhioLINK) and eStudent Services. For more, visit: www.oh-tech.org.