Archive for the ‘Intelligent Communities’ Category

Talking about Smart Cities: Challenges and Opportunities at the RSI | Rethink Sustainability Initiatives 2018 Leadership Summit – March 28, 2018 in Toronto

Thursday, March 15th, 2018

Smart and Intelligent Cities were initiated seriously in the mid 1990’s in Singapore, Silicon Valley and Toronto. Today the global business of digitally driven urban transformation is approaching $1 trillion per year with estimates exceeding $3 trillion by 2023. Some colleagues and I created Smart Toronto ’94.

rsi-rethink-logoI’m excited to be reflecting on what has developed and evolved so far in the Smart City realm, and what challenges and opportunities lie ahead, as I join the distinguished group of thinkers and leaders in sustainability, business and science speaking at the RSI | Rethink Sustainability Initiatives 2018 Leadership Summit coming to Toronto on March 28, 2018. AI Sustainable Futures Summit and Innovation Zone is a one-day action-focused exchange where forward-thinking leaders, entrepreneurs and experts from business, finance, science, cities and civil society come together to discover opportunities for advancing our future sustainability — with special focus on artificial intelligence (AI), digital technologies and other transformative innovations.

In my talk, I will reflect on how there are now at least twenty definitions of “Smart Cities” created by reasonably credible associations, publications, academics and even countries, like India with their “100 Smart Cities” initiative. In addition, we have Sustainable, Resilient, Investable, Interconnected, Convenient, Future and Best Cities. No wonder people are confused!

In the “early” years, most Smart City activities and strategies had a definite technical orientation and today there is an increasing focus of the impact on our citizens and their “happiness” (Dubai’s focus), convenience and quality of life. We need to rethink the name and description of this overarching concept to include qualities associated with Smart, Intelligent, Resilient, Sustainable, Interconnected Investable, Convenient and Comfortable. It really is “My Future City” and it will include features important to specific cities while building on their present advantages and relevant future opportunities.

In addition to gaining insights from leading edge participants in new trends and innovations, AI Sustainable Futures Summit and Innovation Zone will be the place to forge new partnerships with fellow trailblazers for getting to the next level of future readiness. I hope to see you there!

Register here for RSI | Rethink Sustainability Initiatives 2018 Leadership Summit – March 28, 2018 in Toronto.


CATA makes the right call about hitting the tax reset button

Wednesday, October 4th, 2017

We need the Prime Minister to “hit the tax reset button” – otherwise, it appears “the left hand giveth while the right hand taketh away”. Innovation Superclusters, Smart Cities Challenge, CENGN (Centre of Excellence in Next Generation Networks) and ENCQOR (Evolution of Networked Services through a Corridor in Québec and Ontario for Research and Innovation) investments are disabled when deducting from risk-taking entrepreneurs who are creating jobs and growing our economy.

cata-alliance-logoSpurred by the backlash to the federal government’s proposed tax changes, the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATAAlliance, at has launched a campaign calling for the government to pause and reset its priorities on small business- and startup-focused policies. CATA CEO John Reid talked to the Ottawa Business Journal about it recently.



Checking in for a Smart Cities Innovation Advocacy update

Monday, November 14th, 2016

Back in August, CATAAlliance (, Canada’s One Voice for Innovation Lobby Group, called on Canada’s federal government to create a national Smart Communities Development Fund “SCDF” of $300 million to support the digital transformation of our cities and smaller communities and create a new $20 billion export trade business with an enhanced Smart City industrial sector as an integral part of building Canada as a global centre for innovation.

CATAAlliance keeps us updated on this initiative here. As well, I had the pleasure of weighing in on why the initiative matters here:

Canada’s New Smart Cities Challenge: Bill Hutchison, i-Canada Chair from CATAAlliance on Vimeo.

As I commented, “Digital transformation of life in our cities is creating enormous opportunities. The opportunities are to experience the economic, social and environmental benefits from becoming leaders in digital transformation. Substantial new trade opportunities are also available. The global market is growing rapidly to nearly one trillion dollars per year and growth is accelerating as countries like India move forward with their plan to create 100 new Smart Cities. Canada has established an impressive foundation in the field but global growth is accelerating and national governments are jumping in to support their cities and to create effective international sales and export capabilities. Becoming an established innovation nation requires effective national participation in the rapidly evolving Smart City movement.”

Smart Cities: Aligning Citizen Priorities with a Digital Strategy

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

The world’s leading Smart, Intelligent, Sustainable and Resilient Cities or “Future Cities, are enjoying exceptional economic, social and environmental benefits. New incoming investment, the retention and attraction of young people, new knowledge jobs and improved citizen collaboration are just a few of the many benefits.

Urban digital transformation is a trillion-dollar global business today and about fifty cities in the world have made it to the top tier of Future City rankings. They are “Today’s Winners”. Others are moving up the scale – “Tomorrow’s Winners” – while hundreds of others have not started or are spending time and money with processes that are not working (“The Others”).

One reason why The Others are behind is they are lacking a strategic plan/roadmap that includes the priorities of citizens and community stakeholders, a plan/roadmap aligns those priorities with a digital strategy. The Others often start with a digital strategy by itself and begin designing and implementing it only to be rebuffed by City Council who have not participated in high level priority setting with citizen and stakeholder groups. Councillors have not been a part of the visioning process.

Meanwhile, The Winners are implementing Strategic Technology Alignment or “STA”, a phrase and process created 25 years ago when academic research at MIT identified the benefits of aligning IT investments with strategic goals of the organization. Business organizations have included STA in their plans for many years but it is a challenge in municipal government, in part because of the added management complexity in cities compared to business organizations.

Cities have more outside influences and influencers to be managed. The overall management challenge is very different because stakeholders and important citizens’ groups are not city government employees, but they are an important part of the “organization” writ large. Collaboration and consensus is important in Future City transformation. It requires strong leadership, and real success is achieved only when members of the entire community believe they have an effective voice in the Future City transformation process.

A Future City plan featuring Strategic Technology Alignment blends the benefits of being Smart, Intelligent, Sustainable, Resilient, and incorporates other themes such as Creative and Comfortable. Citizen and community stakeholder priorities inform the digital strategy which then connects many disparate applications and themes. The result is an effective and efficient transformation process that is creating Tomorrow’s Winners.

Establishing a Future City plan with STA, including citizen priorities, can be achieved in three months – in Canada at least because of the availability of necessary citizen research coordinates for outreach feedback. The process requires strong senior civic leadership and oversight by a Smart City Advisory Board or Task Force representing all dimensions of the community. The result will be citizen satisfaction and support with better civic productivity and important future positioning on the national and global scene.

bill-hutchison-linkedin-100To schedule a seminar on Fast Start Citizen Outreach with Strategic Technology Alignment contact us here or on LinkedIn at

Yes indeed, it’s time to build Canada’s 21st-century infrastructure

Friday, September 30th, 2016

This summer, Adam Belsher, CEO of Magnet Forensics wrote a piece for the Globe and Mail that I’ve been pondering. Take a look:

It’s time to build Canada’s 21st-century infrastructure
by Adam Belsher
The Globe and Mail, July 28, 2016

Canada’s economy is facing serious headwinds. Our trade deficit continues to grow. Our economic growth has been stunted as the world moves toward a post-commodities-driven economy, toward wealth creation where intangible goods drive the greatest profit. This new reality is putting our social infrastructure, health care, education and other public goods at grave risk.

Our federal government has recognized these challenges and committed to stimulating our economy through infrastructure investments. This could pay great dividends – or leave our next generations with a heavy bill to pay. The result depends on our leaders’ ability to make calculated investments in what’s needed for the future.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Excellent article! Talking about strategic investments and future markets, the UK and the US are great examples of identifying the benefits of stimulating the “Smart City” market, already estimated globally at $1 trillion per year. I’m using “Smart” to include all elements of urban digital transformation to what today we are calling a combination of Smart/Intelligent/Sustainable/Resilient etc. – in other words, our Future Communities.

The UK is pursuing two goals: Create a nation of the world’s leading Future Communities and also capture 10% of the global market for their own export business. To achieve their goal … and they are already succeeding with excellent results, they created the Smart Cities fund of approximately $500 million and invited cities to submit proposals for demonstrator projects involving 1,000 to 10,000 users. They are also creating “Catapults”, which are a series of Smart City innovation centres with a combination of incubation, demo developments, etc.

The US through US Ignite is funding cities in a targeted way too: $40 million for the best autonomous vehicle support program which Columbus won, and clustered gigabit cities are just two examples.

The point of all this is governments are being strategic and supporting market development where the funds will then flow through to the technology companies and others to solve and implement the new systems. Those companies are then going out and competing in the global Smart City market with support from great customers back home as references. This is different from ignoring market development with its flow-through of funds to suppliers and trying to “push” by focusing the funding on suppliers and letting them figure out the markets.

There is a real advantage to government policy that supports our cities. Our cities account for +80% of our people, our GDP and our innovation. The UK and the US have it figured out and so have China, India and the small guys like Estonia, Hong Kong, (30 gigabit per second community network development … 1,000 times faster than in Canada) and Singapore too.

We have great Islands of Excellence upon which to build. Four years ago “the other guys” started funding their cities for these 21st century opportunities. We need national determination to turn innovation words into action and cities is where the action can be magnified many times.

World Future Cities Summit (WFCS) guest speaker William Mougayar scrutinizes blockchain and government services

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

We were delighted to welcome industry expert, researcher, writer and theorist William Mougayar to last June’s World Future Cities Summit (WFCS) in Toronto. He has expanded his thought provoking WFCS talk into the following article for The Huffington Post:

huffington-postThe Blockchain is Perfect for Government Services, but Where is Canada?

William Mougayar
Toronto-based investor, blogger. Author of The Business Blockchain. Advisor to some of the world’s leading blockchain organizations.

Government services are one of the most obvious and immediate application areas for the blockchain. Several governments around the world are already working on a variety of initiatives, but in Canada, we have yet to see visible signs of activity.

Let me illustrate via some examples, what cities, municipalities and governments around the world are currently doing with the blockchain in the first half of 2016.

In Delaware, the state where a majority of new companies in North America will likely incorporate, Governor Jack Markell announced two recent blockchain initiatives, under the banner “Delaware is open for blockchain business”. The first was about moving state archival records to an open distributed ledger. The second allows any private company that incorporates in that state to keep track of all the equity issued and the different shareholder rights on the blockchain.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Two Smart City Summits with a wealth of wisdom and opportunities to offer

Friday, May 20th, 2016

It’s “Déjà Vu All Over Again”

These immortal words of the late great Yogi Berra of the New York Yankees seem appropriate today with the production of two Toronto based Smart City Summits scheduled two weeks apart on May 26th and June 9-10th, 2016. It was twenty two years ago in 1994 when we first pulled together a large group to plan Toronto’s Smart City transformation. I teamed up with several other esteemed colleagues to co-found the original Smart Toronto organization and Summit. Roots from Smart Toronto’94 were replanted in 2004 to start the Waterfront Toronto Intelligent Community program and they blossomed to the point where in 2014 Toronto with Waterfront Toronto was named global Intelligent Community of the Year. Now, some exciting and different but related future opportunities will be discussed, debated and prioritized but with different goals during the two Toronto Summits.

This post is written from the perspective of my dual role in the leadership of both Summits: Co-Chair of the Smart Cities Working Group of the Smart Cities Summit: Towards a Connected Toronto Region, (May 26th), produced by the Toronto Region Board of Trade (TRBOT), and Chair of the i-CANADA Alliance, producer of the World Future Cities Summit (June 9-10). Both Summits will be very interesting events and there is a connection between the two events.

The TRBOT Summit will feature approximately 200 participants, mainly from the Toronto Region, who will study, debate and recommend a series of high level goals and priorities for moving the City of Toronto to the “next level” in urban transformation. This next level will include smart, intelligent, sustainable, resilient, creative, cultural and inclusive dimensions within a broad framework of economic, environmental and social objectives. The agenda is described at:

The World Future Cities Summit (WFCS) has a national and international focus in three areas:

  1. Community transformation; goals, new opportunities and best practices
  2. International sales development with senior officials in attendance from India’s 100 Smart Cities program, the world’s largest market for smart city products and services, and
  3. Organization of the Rising Communities Caucus of i-CANADA. This Caucus will provide an ongoing focus on the aspirations, opportunities and lessons learned in the digital transformation of Canada’s smaller cities and towns.

WFCS is further described in detail at


Toronto Region Board of Trade (TRBOT) Smart Cities Summit

This will feature an interesting blend of national and international panelists and speakers, including the following sample:

  • Mark Kleinman, Director of Economic and Business Policy for the Mayor of London, UK
  • Volker Buscher, Arup, Director of Digital Business
  • Harout Chitilian, City of Montreal, Vice Chair of the Montreal Executive Committee
  • Chris Dwelley, City of Boston, Citywide Performance Manager
  • Stuart Cowen, Chief Scientist, US Smart Cities Council
  • Dr. Sara Diamond, President and CEO, OCAD University
  • Dr. Patricia McCarney, President and CEO, World Council on City Data
  • Stephen Buckley, General Manager, Transportation Services, City of Toronto
  • Rob Meikle, CIO, City of Toronto
  • Kristina Verner, Director, Intelligent Communities, Waterfront Toronto

These speakers will provide background as input for nine breakout groups organized within three themes. Each of the nine groups will produce a number of recommended priorities for Toronto’s future planning according to the focus of their group. The three themes and the focus of each group is as follows:

  • Environment:
    • Infrastructure Energy, Water and Transportation
    • Resiliency
    • Urban Planning and Design
  • Social:
    • Health and Well Being
    • Safety and Security
    • Culture and Entertainment
  • Economy:
    • Employment and Talent
    • Research and Innovation
    • Investments

At the end of the day, this TRBOT Summit will likely have identified a few priorities for the City of Toronto as it moves forward with its ongoing planning and urban transformation over the next few years. This same planning and related framework will inform future TRBOT initiatives as TRBOT fulfills its regional role working with other communities in the Toronto Region. What is impressive about this initiative is the world’s leading Smart Cities have all included broad community collaboration in their roadmap to winning global awards as leaders. This Summit provides a great example and effective framework for appropriate collaboration.

Learn more here.


World Future Cities Summit (WFCS)

Details of the agenda are at and some examples of speakers include:

  • Pratap Padode, Founder and Director, Smart Cities Council, India
  • Dr. Ilse Treurnicht, President and CEO, MaRS Discovery District
  • Seven Adler, IBM Global Leader, Information Strategy, New York
  • Eric Deschenes, Vice President, North American Energy Division, Schneider Electric
  • Professor Eric Miller, Director, International Transportation Institute, University of Toronto
  • Janet De Silva, President and CEO Toronto Region Board of Trade
  • Dan Mathieson, Mayor, Stratford, Ontario
  • David Sandel, Founder, Gigabit City Summit, Kansas City
  • Fawn Annan, President and Group Publisher, IT World Canada
  • Rick Bonnett, Mayor of Halton Hills
  • Mark Romoff, President and CEO, Canadian Council of Public Private Partnerships
  • Dr. Michael Shepherd, Professor, Faculty of Computer Science at Dalhousie University and previously Dean of Computer Science for 7 years
  • Dr. Sara Diamond, President and CEO, OCAD University
  • Dr. Patricia McCarney, President and CEO, World Council on City Data
  • Marianne Treschow, Royal Swedish Academy for Engineering Sciences

Janet De Silva, President and CEO, Toronto Region Board of Trade will provide an important link between the two Summits, as will I informally. She will present to a panel at WFCS the high level summary of priority recommendations from the TRBOT Summit and there will be an opportunity for dialog and feedback at WFCS.

Included in WFCS is an evening of musical entertainment on June 9th produced by Luminato at “the Hearn” in Toronto’s Portlands. The idea is to convey the importance of entertainment in our future cities and the Hearn as a living example of potential revitalization of a very large heritage structure.

Hope to see you at one or both of these fine events!

i-CANADA Congratulates Canadian Intelligent Community Finalists

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

February 10, 2016 – Bill Hutchison, Chair and Co-Founder of i-CANADA, adds his congratulations today to the cities of Montreal, Winnipeg and Surrey for being named a “Top7 Intelligent Community” by the Intelligent Community Forum in New York.


“The Top7 Intelligent Communities of the Year provide role models for the world’s best practices in creating competitive local economies and vibrant societies in today’s hyper-competitive global economy,” said Mr. Hutchison. “Having Canadian cities named as three of those Top 7 communities reinforces Canada’s reputation as the foremost nation for success in the transformation of communities to achieve new levels of economic, social and environmental leadership.”

In the “broadband economy,” adaptability outweighs legacy; skills rather than resources are the keys to the future, and innovation, not location, creates a competitive advantage.

“We have many other cities in Canada under development as Intelligent Communities,” added i-CANADA co-Founder Barry Gander. “Canada absolutely needs this leadership, as 30% of our economy depends on exports – and innovation is the key to global commerce.”

Click on the link below to learn more about the Top7 communities.

i-CANADA is the pan-Canadian movement dedicated to creating a nation of Intelligent Communities large and small, rural and urban, where all enjoy the economic development, job growth and social prosperity now available in the world’s leading communities. The i-Canada Governors Council is comprised of provincial Premiers, Mayors and CEOs of institutions and major corporations. i-CANADA has been a prime mover in Canada’s record showings in the global Intelligent Community contest by providing active transformational programs featuring the best practices of the world’s “smartest” and most intelligent communities. The goal is to have 150 Canadian cities and towns all competing successfully for international awards, or internationally ranked in time for Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017.

Learn more at

“Because it is 2015!”

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

When asked “why the focus on gender balance in your new Cabinet?” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau answered “because it is 2015”. The answer hit a positive nerve and went viral! He could have used the same answer if asked “Why the new designation for Industry Canada and the naming of a Science Minister?”

The fact is we need a new Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, supported by a new Minister of Science because Canada’s federal government has a broader role to play as we and the rest of the world rocket along in the expanding digital age. We need to focus on our entire economy. Meanwhile, we do need to recognize that fifty percent of Canada’s economic output is clustered in our five largest cities and cities with smart and intelligent ecosystems attract investment, create jobs and produce more economic output.

In the Globe and Mail earlier this month, Richard Florida, noted author and academic argues for the creation of a Ministry of Cities. It would certainly increase the focus on cities and could take a while to establish. Meanwhile we need action immediately, as we are falling behind other developed countries.

Semiconductor circuits are at the heart of our digital transformation. Their cost/performance characteristics have improved one billion times since the early 1960’s and that performance improvement will grow to 20 billion in the short time between now and 2020. Like it or not, our economy is riding on an accelerating digital rocket ship to the future and we urgently need new ideas, processes and programs to merely keep up in our public and private sectors – nationally, regionally and locally.

We should quickly bring to Canada some relevant international urban innovation programs that have already gained traction in other countries, emulate them as appropriate for Canada, implement them and then improve on them. Many nations have used this strategy to catch up or get ahead. We need to move quickly to encourage collaboration between leaders in the public and private sectors supported by effective national and regional funding to create big Smarter City demonstrations. Successful companies will then have Canadian customers to reference in their pursuit of five percent of the global trade in the Smart City market, which incidentally would be $50 billion per year according to present estimates.

Here are two examples of impressive international programs: The first is in the UK where four years ago the UK Government’s public/private sector Smart Cities Forum encouraged the UK government to create a three hundred and seventy million pound Smart Cities Innovation fund to support cities with successful proposals for Smart City demonstrator programs. Glasgow won 28 million pounds in the first round. The fund challenges cities and their citizens to create new innovations and demonstrations, involving at least 1000 people, to demonstrate new concepts for Smarter City initiatives.

The program has a second goal too; to raise UK business and industrial capabilities sufficient to capture 10% of the global Smart City market which the UK government estimates to be worth one trillion dollars per year. In other words, the UK program is a “twofer”: First, the program results in new Smarter City demonstrator initiatives supported by the funds received by the winning cities and then the companies that receive much of the money from the cities to design and implement the new systems will use their new-found knowledge and solutions to pursue and capture – they hope – $100 billion per year, (10%), of global Smart City business.

us-ignite-logoAnother innovative international program is US IGNITE in the United States. It was created as part of President Obama’s initial stimulus program after the economic collapse in 2008. It is now driving many impressive urban and business innovations in communities across the US. Canada’s academic research community has connections into US IGNITE with the result that a number of very interesting innovation initiatives could be quickly introduced into Canada.

We have islands of excellence in Canada upon which to build while the global digital “rocket ship” has already launched heading for “who knows where”. All we know is it is moving quickly while creating Big Data, Open Data and the Internet of Things with new innovations like autonomous vehicles on the horizon. We need to grab the opportunities urgently, ride the rocket ship or fall off. We can do it “because it is 2015” and we have some great assets. But we also need to hurry “because it is 2015” and others are racing ahead.

“The overall goal is to create a more convenient life”

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

The Smart City and Intelligent Community movements started twenty years ago, and have now turned into multi-billion pound global industries, says EY’s Bill Hutchison, co-founder and chair of i-CANADA and executive director of the Center for Smart City Innovation.

When Bill Hutchison moved to Singapore from Toronto in 1996, he found himself at the beginning of what has proved to be a huge global transformation of the way communities live and work in our cities.

“Singapore had started a business plan to create ‘Smart Island’, and Silicon Valley had its ‘Smart Valley’,” he recalls. These were early days for smart intelligent communities, but Hutchison had already created Smart Toronto in 1994 through his work with Ernst & Young, and so he was already ahead of the game.

“I was very much involved in the creation of a Russian smart city as an EY partner,” he recalls. “The Russian government wanted to create the city Skolkovo on the edge of Moscow, primarily for young people to live and work, but it would also become a model for the rest of Russia. As I had experience of the Toronto project, I was able to get things moving in Russia and I am still a member of The International Advisory Council based in Moscow.”

The project was shelved when Vladimir Putin came to power, and the smart city focus shifted to Kazakhstan. The Kazakhstan government wants its capital city to become one of the world’s top cities by 2017, and Hutchison is finding himself spending longer amounts of time there.

Read the complete article here.