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LOS ANGELES — Increasingly the world seems to be going quite bluntly to hell. Economically for many countries particularly in Europe; the United States facing the so-called fiscal cliff; and most recently politically and militarily in the Mideast. People throughout the globe looking to find jobs and put food on the table for their families. All these factors add up to crises that the Intelligent Community Forum is trying to address for the 21st Century.
The Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) had its roots formed in 1985 and became an independent organization in 2004. According to ICF, they hope to “celebrate the achievements of communities that have overcome challenges to claim a place in the 21st Century.”
Louis Zacharilla, along with Robert Bell and John Jung, helped create ICF.
“What I like about it (ICF) is what it does,” Zacharilla said. “It’s designed to be a think tank that tries to get a grasp of how you energize and build cities and communities for the 21st century. What we’ve found with our approach is go out and find communities that are doing well, that have made significant adjustments to go forward, to reach out. Share that information with other communities. It seems to be functioning well.
“I like the approach we’ve taken,” Zacharilla continued. “We’re finding that despite the real significant shifts that are going on with national governance, that people are doing what human beings are very good at. They’re falling back on their social infrastructure like their communities. I like to say their tribes. They’re beginning to work from the ground back up again because that’s close to them, that’s home and they know they have a little more control over that. They’re beginning to see their own destiny. It also gives national leaders a new way to look at governance. “
The Intelligent Community of the Year is selected from the top seven Intelligent Communities picked at the beginning of the year. Information on the particular city is collected by ICF on the city’s broadband economy and its impact locally. ICF points out that the broadband economy “challenges us all, whether we live in a thriving metropolitan area or a poor rural region.”
“What I like about it is we’re able to tell their own story. I think it gives people hope and it also gives national leaders a new way to look at govenrance as technology begins to introduce itself,” said the 56-year-old Zacharilla. “The economy begins to shift dramatically. We change the way we’re learning. We change the way we’re producing jobs. And that gives them (leaders) a bit of cover as well.”
The first Intelligent Community was Singapore, named in 1999. The latest was Riverside, California, which received its award in 2012. It coincided with the release of the group’s book “Seizing Our Destiny” that offers mayors, municipal administrators and others a “playbook” on upgrading their cities’ technologies into the 21st Century. Cities on the 2013 list range from Winnipeg, Canada, to Prospect, South Australia, Australia.
And after Hurricane Sandy, or Super Storm Sandy, whatever we call it, Zacharilla has some advice.
“We’ve really got to pay more attention to our infrastructure. Because infrastructure is really important,” Zacharilla said. “Because we’re like that team in the fourth quarter. You know, America likes to get two or three touchdowns behind and then we roll back. And I think we will. I think we’re very good at it.”