Taoyuan, Taiwan wins Intelligent Community of the Year 2019

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Taoyuan is the largest industrial science and technology city in Taiwan, and now it is officially the ICF’s Intelligent Community of the Year for 2019.

The Intelligent Community Forum’s award cycle is a 12-month process, narrowing down submissions to the Smart21, then to the Top7, then finally awarding the Intelligent Community of the Year. The finalists aren’t necessarily the most advanced technologically - the awards are more about the strategies and plans in place to improve a community with smart systems and broadband infrastructure.

While I was cheering for Sarnia-Lambton County, Ontario and Abbotsford, British Columbia, I really think Taoyuan deserved to take it home this year. The city has all sorts of innovative projects in the works, from youth entrepreneurship programs to business and tech hubs, but the thing that stands out to me the most is their approach to broadband infrastructure development.

The Taoyuan municipality sees the value in working with providers to connect its residents and businesses. The i-Taoyuan Free Wi-Fi 2.0 project launched in 2016, and as of 2019 there were 5,000 free wireless hotspots throughout the city. Chunghwa Telecom also developed 400 access points for free public use.

Taoyuan worked with a number of providers in order to ensure broadband was available across the city. They established the Smart District and Village System, which connects 13 districts and 495 villages to government departments and other online services. Even the Taoyuan Metro has free 4G and Wi-Fi coverage.

I’m hoping that with Taoyuan winning the Intelligent Community of the Year Award, Canadian municipalities take note and realize the importance of developing broadband infrastructure and making it affordable for their residents and businesses to have high-speed connections that exceed the low standards set out by the federal government.

The quality of life we have in Ontario is among the highest in the world, but the quality of life plummets in rural and remote areas that lack a reliable and affordable Internet connection because they can’t access the services that their urban peers can.

I have experience working with municipalities that partner with providers to deploy fibre-optic infrastructure. I will be doing more research to see how Taoyuan approached its development strategy, and perhaps there is something for Canada to learn.

Congrats to Taoyuan. I’m looking forward to learning more about your innovative approach to city building!

Campbell Patterson