The City of Markham is one of just six Canadian municipalities to be named one of the world’s Smart 21 Communities of 2022, all of which have “remarkably” continued their digital transformation amid the pandemic.
The Smart21 list recognizes Markham’s leadership and vision in leveraging information and communications technology to build an inclusive, prosperous and healthy community.
In 2020, Markham was the first municipality in Canada to use the artificial intelligence-driven virtual ‘IBM Watson Assistant for Citizens’ to offer 24-hour customer service for residents looking for COVID-19 information, anytime, anywhere and on any device. In 2021, the service was expanded to address resident inquiries on more than 100 different topics.
Smart21 Communities are selected by the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF). The global movement of 190 cities, metro regions and counties studies and promotes the best practices of the world’s Intelligent Communities as they adapt to the new demands and seize the opportunities presented by information and communications technology.
“The City of Markham is proud to be recognized for its commitment to innovation for the third year in a row,” Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti says. “We foster a culture of innovation and always seek new ways to leverage technology to offer the connectivity, diversity and quality of life that our community and global technology companies value.
“We will continue to showcase Markham as a leader in city building and a living lab for digital advancement and service excellence.”
Smart21 Communities are selected by the ICF based on quantitative and qualitative data related to the ICF Method, which provides the conceptual framework for understanding the factors that determine a community’s competitiveness in economic, social and cultural terms. Those indicators are connectivity, knowledge workforce, digital inclusion, sustainability, engagement (engage) and innovation.
“Despite the pandemic and the epidemic of anger and contempt that has spread to parts of the globe, most Intelligent Communities remained focused on working through COVID, identifying what they need to know to continue their digital transformation and applying many of the innovations that have come from it,” says ICF Co-Founder Lou Zacharilla, “Remarkably, these 21 all share the quality of staying on course on behalf of citizens and continue to use the ICF Method.”
Communities from nine countries, including Greece, Vietnam, Northern Island, Australia and New Zealand, were named to this year’s list.
Photo of the IBM Watson Assistant for Citizens courtesy of IBM.