On the path to be the World’s No. 1 Intelligent Community
  • Thursday 11 April 2019

This week, the Sunshine Coast is under the microscope as the region vies for recognition as the World’s No. 1 Intelligent Community.

In February, the Sunshine Coast was recognised by the global Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) as one of the Top7 Intelligent Communities of 2019. 

Achieving this award from a pool of hundreds of entries, the Sunshine Coast was the only Australian city named in this year’s Top7 and shares the global spotlight with communities from Canada, Taiwan and the United States of America, including Chicago. 

Co-Founder of the ICF, Mr John Jung visited the Sunshine Coast this week as part of the judging process for the 2019 Intelligent Community of the Year.   

Mr Jung toured a number of key sites including the Sunshine Coast Health Precinct and the site where the international broadband submarine cable landing station is under construction.

Mr Jung also addressed local business and industry leaders at the Maroochydore RSL and said the Sunshine Coast was a worthy contender for the top prize, which will be announced in New York on June 13.

He said being named in the Top7 was a significant achievement which would have flow-on benefits for years to come.

“A key benefit that communities see from being named in the Top7 is the global networking opportunities this accolade creates,” Mr Jung said.

“There are almost 200 communities across the globe involved in ICF and we invite our Top7 communities to speak at conventions worldwide.

“The Top7 communities also receive many requests for delegations to visit them.

“One of the regions particularly interested in Australia is south-east Asia.

“Adding the Top7 recognition to the Sunshine Coast will really bolster their motivation to visit.”

Mr Jung said being named in the Top7 also resulted in a significant amount of free “earned media” exposure for the Sunshine Coast.

“You can buy regular media; you can place it in all sorts of publications; and you can create advertisements and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars doing so, but having a third-party validation like the Top7 recognition by ICF is more valuable and authentic,” Mr Jung said.

“It helps to validate a lot of the energy and expense that you have undertaken to create your intelligent community in the first place.” 

Mr Jung said the Sunshine Coast will be able to leverage the Top7 brand to help attract and retain talent, jobs and investment in the region.

“For example, some of the smaller communities who have been named in the Top7 previously have become BETA or pilot cities – where companies can be attracted to test advanced and experimental technology such as autonomous vehicles, 5G and other new smart infrastructure,” Mr Jung said. 

“If you have enabling infrastructure such as broadband and a knowledge-based workforce in place, these add significantly to your innovation ecosystem. 
“This is very attractive for companies who are on the lookout for the best locations in which to invest.” 

Mr Jung also took part in a number of robotics workshops with students at schools across the Sunshine Coast during his three-day visit. 

In welcoming Mr Jung to the region, Mayor Mark Jamieson said providing young people with the experience and skills in demand in the 21st century is a key focus for the region and a key factor in our success in this year’s ICF awards. 

“The theme of this year’s Intelligent Community Forum Award is ‘Infinite Learning’, which is integral to our agenda, as ongoing investment in talent and skills is crucial to equipping the region’s workforce with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in a global marketplace,” Mayor Jamieson said. 

“Getting this far is a significant achievement for our Sunshine Coast but being recognised as an Intelligent Community is not just about how many people use technology.

Mayor Jamieson said the Intelligent Community award recognises communities that are doing the best job of using technology to –

- increase efficiencies

- expand opportunities

- build inclusive prosperity

- tackle social and governance challenges and 

- enrich the quality of life of its residents.

“I am confident that our region has pretty much usurped that agenda in this space in Queensland, particularly when it comes to driving innovation and global connectivity, which are embedded in our agenda for the Sunshine Coast to be Australia’s healthy, smart, creative region.

“Demonstrating that we are an Intelligent Community at a practical level and in a meaningful way, is what counts. 

“For example, by forging ahead with some of our very own region shaping initiatives - like the international broadband submarine network and our solar farm - and through the efforts of our community and local business and industry on a wide range of initiatives, including our efforts to build a robust innovation ecosystem.  
“We believe it is initiatives like this which across the board, reinforce and distinguish our proposition from that of others.

“Student-focused programs like Chancellor State College’s Robocoast national robotics program, Mountain Creek High’s coding and innovation hub, the Generation Innovation youth startup programs and the Mayor’s Telstra Innovation Awards are helping our young people prepare for the jobs of the future.”      

Owner and founder of one of the Sunshine Coast’s most innovative businesses, Helimods, Will Shrapnel said the recognition of the Sunshine Coast in the Intelligent Communities Forum Top7 reflected the outstanding work being undertaken across the region.

“The success of Helimods is living proof that the Sunshine Coast is an ideal location for the most advanced and technology-intensive industries in the world to base themselves,” Mr Shrapnel said. 

“Our experience has also taught us that innovative and progressive companies which choose to invest here can, and do, gain a competitive advantage over their city-only counterparts.” 

Image: Mayor Mark Jamieson with Chancellor State College Students (from left to right) Fionnbharr Jones, Declan Sonnet, Ellie Vloedmans and Sarah Eisenmenger.

Intelligent Community Forum Fast Facts: 
- The Sunshine Coast has been named a Smart21 Intelligent Community five times in the past six years (2014-15, 2017-19) 
- This is the first time the Sunshine Coast has been named in the Top7
- The Sunshine Coast is the only Australian city in this year’s Top7
- Cities and communities around the world are invited to enter the ICF awards. Each submission must provide quantitative and qualitative data to demonstrate the delivery of initiatives aligned to six intelligent community indicators including; broadband, knowledge workforce, innovation, digital equality, sustainability and advocacy.
- The Top7 Intelligent Communities represent models of economic and social transformation in the 21st Century. Each exemplifies best practices in broadband deployment and use, workforce development, innovation, digital inclusion and advocacy that offer lessons to regions, cities, towns and villages around the world.  
- Facilitated by Sunshine Coast Council, ICF co-founder John Jung has met with 17 separate organisations during his three-day visit to the Sunshine Coast, including leaders from education, industry, community, environment, health and government.

In alphabetical order, the Top7 Intelligent Communities of 2019 are:
Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Hudson, Ohio, USA
Sarnia-Lambton County, Ontario, Canada
Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia
Taoyuan, Taiwan
Westerville, Ohio, USA