Suwon, South Korea was named the Intelligent Community of the Year last Friday. They won over the other six finalists, including some of my favorites – Dublin, Ohio; Tallinn, Estonia; and Eindhoven, Netherlands. Stockholm, Sweden was the 2009 Intelligent Community of the Year. Suwon is just 15 miles from Seoul. South Korea has now produced three of the last five Intelligent Community winners.
What I find most fascinating about this competition and these communities is how it reveals the culture of the participating communities and countries. “Happy Suwon” is the marketing tagline for the winning community. “Fast-fast” is their operating style. They get input from the people, make decisions, do things, measure results, move on. Always fast-fast. Eindhoven and Tallinn are fiercely strategic and highly encouraging of collaboration and innovation. The US communities seem more haphazard and free-flowing. In the European and Asian communities, there seems less conflict about the proper government role in moving a community forward. They seem to talk more about what should be done rather than to argue the proper approach to getting it done.
All of these communities put a strong emphasis on world class infrastructure – telecommunications, transportation, and education systems. They are working hard to put these in place and to make use of them to increase their economic competitiveness.