The City of Markham took a big step toward being named the Intelligent Community of the Year.

Markham, which applied and was listed among the Smart21, was named by the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) as one of the Top7 Intelligent Communities of 2020.

The prestigious honour, which will be awarded at the annual ICF Global Summit in June, is based on progress in the areas of digital connectedness, work force, innovation, inclusion, stakeholder engagement and sustainability.

Markham, a leader in digital initiatives, is at the centre of Canada’s second-largest tech cluster and home to more than 1,500 high tech and life sciences companies.

The city is among the final seven global communities, which also include South Australia, Australia, Hamilton, Ontario, Hudson, Ohio, USA, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia, Tallinn, Estonia and Westerville, Ohio, USA.

“Markham’s participation in assessments such as the Intelligent Communities Forum helps us to benchmark ourselves against many other municipalities around the world,” said Nasir Kenea, the City of Markham’s Chief Information Officer. “It helps us to gauge our progress to become a more connected and intelligent community; use of technology and its eco system to enhance the economic opportunities, sustainability and social inclusion that overall improve quality of life. Being in the Top7 speaks to the achievements Markham has made so far in this regard.”

A total of 30 initiatives of Markham’s were assessed using six criteria: Connect (Broadband), Work (Knowledge Workforce), Innovate (Innovation), include (Digital Equality), Engage (Advocacy) and Sustain (Sustainability).

Markham’s highlights include:

– Online Voting Initiative: The largest lower-tier municipality in Canada to offer online voting, Markham leveraged exceptional broadband availability and adoption in the 2018 municipal election resulting in 91.3 per cent of voters choosing to vote online.

– STEAM Skills Program Through Markham Public Library: Digital literacy experts conduct engineering, circuit building and coding workshops to help an average of 325 students per month explore concepts, develop cooperation and access specialized tools and technology.

– ventureLAB: Collaborating with industry, academic, not-for-profit and government, this incubator supports more than 500 enterprises per year in hardware and enterprise software, health, advanced manufacturing and FinTech.

– Markham Public Library Makerspace Expansion: Residents can develop digital literacy and creative skills using suites of digital software and tools along with instructions to gain employment, develop entrepreneurship, supplement schooling, to socialize and to engage politically.

– Building Markham’s Future Together (BMFT) Strategic Plan 2020-2023 Community Consultation: A five-week community engagement and awareness program drove stakeholders to Your Voice Markham, the City’s new online public engagement platform, where they could get informed, access translations and provide feedback.

– Municipal Energy Plan – Getting to Zero: Lowering energy use and GHG emissions through community education and engagement, piloting home retrofits, leveraging cleaner fuels and developing Canada’s largest geo-exchange system and low carbon emissions community.

– ePLAN: Online submissions streamline and automate the entire building application and review process to save applicants and staff time, effectively track files and to save paper and storage costs.

– Markham Public Library Digital Literacy Programs: Ongoing learning programs, individual instruction, community events and curated online learning promotes digital inclusion by building knowledge and confidence while lowering barriers to access technology.

– Digital Markham Strategy: A digital roadmap lays out four areas of focus: to engage and serve the community, to become a digital differentiator for business, to establish a digital workplace and to enable Markham to become a platform for innovation.

The ICF is a global network that connects hundreds of cities and regions on five continents for collaboration on economic development and for exchange of expertise and information that drives progress.

Photo: Markham, a leader in digital initiatives, is at the centre of Canada’s second-largest tech cluster and home to more than 1,500 high tech and life sciences companies.

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