It's Leadership, Stupid
That, in and of itself, is a surprise. But the names of the six may also be surprising: Chattanooga, Tenn.; Dakota County, Minn.; Danville, Va.; Dublin, Ohio; the northeast Ohio region; and Riverside, Calif.
These are the US cities that will judged alongside international municipalities including Shanghai, Quebec City, and Birmingham, the UK's second-largest city after London.
To be fair, the list also includes Sopron, Hungary; Issy-les-Moulineaux, France; and Stratford, Ontario -- all communities with populations well under 100,000.
But all of the US nominees are either smaller cities -- under 50,000 in population -- or combinations of urban and rural environments. Chattanooga is nominated because of the fiber-to-the-home network built by its publicly owned utility, EPB, to rural areas as well as urban areas, and while Northeast Ohio includes cities such as Cleveland and Akron, it covers 24 counties including rural areas and areas depressed by de-industrialization. (See Chattanooga Rocks 1-Gig FTTH Service)
Money was invested in each city, to be sure, but the sources of that funding vary, to include private money, commercial carrier investments, local bonds, federal broadband stimulus money, and various grants. None of these cities are what you would call exclusive, upscale areas, however, so money isn't the real issue here.
What these six have in common is local leaders, either elected or volunteer, who not only had the vision required to realize what broadband connections and investment in communications technology could mean but also the intestinal fortitude to see that vision through.
So if anything, I think this list proves that leadership is what counts and that any community can be "intelligent" if it chooses.
— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading