The world's smartest place to live?

The top seven smartest places in the world to live are being announced this month. Do you live there?

Then you need to get yourself along to one of the world's most intelligent communities (as voted for by the Intelligent Community Forum, a New York-based think tank that “studies the economic and social development of the 21st Century community”).

They've got them all over the place: the long list of 21 smart places to live, announced last October, runs:

  • Arlington County, Virginia USA; population: 210,000
  • Ballarat, Australia; population: 88,000
  • Besancon, France; population: 122,000
  • Bristol, Virginia, USA; population: 17,590
  • Dakota County, Minnesota, USA; population: 398,500
  • Danville, Virginia, USA; population: 42,000
  • Dublin, Ohio, USA; population: 40,000
  • Dundee, Scotland; population: 142,000
  • Eindhoven, The Netherlands; population: 733,000
  • Gold Coast City, Queensland, Australia; population: 500,000
  • Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada; population: 65,000
  • Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; population: 1,148,000
  • Porto Alegre, Brazil; population: 1,416,000
  • Riverside, California, USA; population: 296,800
  • Suwon, Korea; population: 52,000
  • Tallinn, Estonia; population: 404,000
  • Taoyuan County, Taiwan; population: 1,970,000
  • Tel Aviv, Israel; population: 391,300
  • Tianjin Binhai, China; population: 2,020,000
  • Trikala, Greece; population 51,900
  • Windsor-Essex, Ontario, Canada; population: 393,400

Sorry, Africa, better luck next year. And hey! Check out Virginia, USA – three entries! (Thanks to fibre networks and really clever diversification as its old industries declined.)

But Whoa! I hear the wheels screeching to a halt. Dundee? Dundee on the East coast of Scotland? It's too cold to think there!

Dundee was actually one of the top seven most intelligent places on the face of the Earth to live in during 2007 and 2008, and may make the top table again when the results of the ICF's Top Seven competition is announced on January 20 this month.

But why? I hear you saying. Why? Why? Why?

Two words: Life and Sciences. Under the leadership of Professor Sir Philip Cohen, Dundee's College of Life Sciences had grown to become an international powerhouse of research and collaboration, gathering under one roof 850 very smart people from 61 different nationalities, and driving the employment of more than 4000 others – 16% of the local economy – in the city. US pharmaceutical firm Wyeth has even set up a collaborative research centre in the city (TMRC, or Translational Medicine Research Collaboration).

It helps that the city invested in a networked infrastructure, linking all aspects of city life from the home, through journeys on the buses, to the technology parks.

But how do they judge these things? The ICF look at a community's broadband connectivity (including what they're going to do with it and how they're going to make it better) knowledge workforce, digital inclusion (ie getting everyone in town involved, not just the ones with research grants), innovation, and marketing and advocacy.

So, fingers crossed for the 20th, Dundee. But they're not dumb enough to trust to luck, are they?

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