The City of Markham has been named one of the world’s Smart21 Communities of 2021, joining a roster of communities recognized for leveraging technology to serve residents amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Each of the 21 communities named by the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) has applied the six principles of the ICF Method to begin building inclusive economic prosperity, social health and cultural richness.
Together, those principles make a community strong and resilient, according to the global network of cities and regions with a think tank at its centre. ICF’s mission is to help communities in the digital age find a new path to economic development and community growth – one that creates inclusive prosperity, tackles social challenges and enriches quality of life.
“Our city offers the connectivity, diversity and quality of life that our community and global technology companies value, and we invite them to choose Markham as we continue on our digital journey,” Mayor Frank Scarpitti says. The City was named a Smart21 Community in 2020.
The Smart21 list allows Markham to showcase and share its knowledge about online voting, supporting accelerator hubs, building partnerships with technology leaders and delivering digital services. That includes a Canadian first: the use of the artificial intelligence-driven virtual agent ‘IBM Watson Assistant for Citizens’ that offers 24-hour customer service for residents looking for COVID-19 information on any device.
Examples of questions that can be answered by Watson Assistant for Citizens include: “What are the symptoms of COVID-19?” and “Where can I get tested for COVID-19 in Markham?”
Next, the Smart21 will complete detailed questionnaires providing more information on their communities. Seven of them will advance to being named the Top7 Intelligent Communities of 2021, which will be announced during virtual conference taking place in June.
The Top7 will be the focus of the 2021 ICF Global Summit in October, where one will be named the Intelligent Community of the Year.