Montréal, the vibrant capital city of Quebec in Canada, is renowned for its vibrant technology sector, and has the potential to become a world-class model for the Smart City concept. The French-speaking city was awarded the Intelligent Community of the Year award this year by the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) at an awards ceremony held in the Africa Event Center at the Columbus Zoo in Ohio.
At the ceremony held in June, Rio de Janeiro's Knowledge Squares Program, which uses inclusion to foster neighborhood regeneration for some of Rio's most impoverished citizens, was also honored with ICF's Visionary of the Year award for 2016. But it was Montréal's flourishing creativity and spirit of collaboration that stole the show. Montréal is a smart and digital city; more than ever before, its citizens are both the creators and principal beneficiaries of their quality of life and economic progress.
It was Montréal's recent advancement of its Smart City agenda that earned it the title of most 'Intelligent Community' of 2016. The city's administration has been working on developing a series of Smart City initiatives since early 2011, which has led to Montréal's '2015-2017 Smart City Action Plan'. This year marks the fourth time since the award was created in 1999 that a Canadian city has won the award, with previous winners being Toronto, Waterloo and Calgary.
The city recently announced the creation of the Capital Intelligent MtI initiative, a $100 million fund aimed at both start-ups and established businesses which offer solutions for urban challenges, and launched in partnership with 23 venture capital firms, financial institutions, and corporations. Montréalers are considered to be the "most digitally-savvy people on the planet" according to Montréal's Smart and Digital City Office; a city "busting with creative types, innovators, entrepreneurs, investors and other multi-talented players".
"Our jury believed that Montréal played the innovation game at the highest possible level," said ICF co-founder Lou Zacharilla. The seven finalists at the ceremony were evaluated on six Intelligent Community Indicators, along with a seventh criteria, ICF's annual theme, 'From Revolution to Renaissance', Cantech Letter reported.
"The City has found perhaps the strongest link and example of how to go from the revolution of technology to the new Renaissance that we believe cities can enter," Zacharilla added. "Montréal never strayed far from the DNA that gave the world Cirque de Soleil and a powerful games industry. It has continued to invest in innovative urban statements such as the Quartier des Spectacles, where broadband and ICT, in our view, play the proper role in enabling the economic and human expression of culture."
One of the major aspects that attracted the ICF to choose Montréal as its winner for the most Intelligent Community award was not only the application of technological solutions to improve the city's physical infrastructure or business culture, but also the integration of technology in Montréal's culture. The city's unique downtown areas like the Quartier des Spectacles use technology to improve quality of life for citizens in public areas. Another aspect taken into account by the ICF was Montréal's "robust incubator and accelerator system" which is said to develop start-up companies into potential global firms.
What's more, Montréal's world-class aerospace industry was also taken into consideration for the award, as well as its six Learning Labs, which specialize in areas from transportation, to healthcare and urban planning, and have deployed an online collaboration system to engage its 5,000 company strong ICT cluster through open innovation. The city is said to have a strong cluster of post-secondary institutions, which saw over 415,000 students earning an undergraduate or graduate degree between 1998 and 2008. It proves how Montréal has grown into a hub for high-level research and development.