From Smart to Intelligent: Hilliard Wins Global RecognitionPosted June 21, 2023 in Development
The City of Hilliard has been named one of the world’s top seven intelligent communities in the world.
Hilliard and six other communities were given the prestigious award by the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF), a global network of cities and regions. The program recognizes communities that demonstrate best practices in broadband connectivity, workforce development, digital inclusion, innovation, community engagement, and sustainability.
The City was named a Smart21 community in February, a pre-requisite to this week’s announcement. ICF referred to Hilliard as “a model of small city innovation and growth on the technology foundation” at the Building Together: Top7 Communities of the Year Conference in Toronto June 20.
Hilliard City Manager Michelle Crandall said the City worked closely with community partners to develop the application. She attributes a significant part of the win to the local partnerships’ efforts in skilled workforce development and sustainability.
“The Intelligent7 award recognizes the significant accomplishments the City of Hilliard has achieved to promote economic development and lay a foundation for long-term prosperity, social transformation, and sustainability for our community,” said Crandall.
“The award recognizes that we are employing best practices that will attract and train a workforce that prepares Hilliard for future economic growth,” Crandall added. “We are building and using the kind of broadband infrastructure and digital tools that make us attractive to high-tech companies. And we are providing amenities that promote a high quality of life for current and future residents who will call our community home.”
Hilliard City Schools Superintendent Dave Stewart said the recognition “signifies our commitment to fostering a community that values innovation and embraces technological advancements.”
“By continued collaboration with the City, we can further enhance educational opportunities for students, ensuring they have access to the skills and knowledge necessary for success beyond our walls,” said Stewart. “Through initiatives like the Career from Here job fair and the Future Ready academic course, which is now a graduation requirement, students will have the chance to establish meaningful connections between the workforce and their pathways, ultimately preparing them to be Ready for Tomorrow.”
The recognition focuses on six factors of economic, social, and cultural growth:
Broadband Connectivity: The City’s fiber optic system, HiFiO, was launched in 2019. The carrier-neutral, 30-mile network provides businesses and residents with up to 100GB connectivity, ensuring schools, in-need remote students, City infrastructure, and the first responder radio tower, among others local assets, are connected.
Knowledge Work: Hilliard City Schools has worked with the City, other education institutions, and businesses to prepare the students for the skilled workforce with a variety of opportunities. Programs include the Future Ready class that guides students in making informed decisions about their futures, the Career from Here program that facilitates students interning and working at local companies, and the “Think Big Spaces” initiative with Amazon Web Services (AWS) that creates an educational environment combining Hilliard’s program with AWS’ cloud computing technology.
Innovation: Hilliard City Lab began in 2022 as a partnership between the City of Hilliard and Converge Technologies, a technology incubator. Hilliard City Lab turns the entire Hilliard community into a real-world lab where start-up technology firms and other companies can test and launch their products into commercialization. The City of Hilliard provides access to its infrastructure, expertise, data, existing technology, and funding opportunities. The success of this partnership inspired the City to create a working group of staff members who could serve as Innovation Ambassadors, identifying potential challenges and opportunities that Hilliard City Lab partners and processes could solve and benefit from.
Digital Inclusion: The City of Hilliard has worked with Hilliard City Schools to take significant strides in bridging the digital divide by providing broadband to students who previously lacked access. Additionally, Hilliard City Schools is a participant of the Hack-a-Thon, an event that invites high schoolers to spend time building familiarity with technology, learning from Ohio State University students, and making connections with professional mentors.
Sustainability: The City’s resident-led Environmental Sustainability Commission (ESC), with a grant from the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio (SWACO), purchased a Styrofoam densifier, making the City the first in central Ohio to own the equipment. The City has also finalized an update to the comprehensive plan, which includes preservation of the Big Darby Watershed. Additionally, Hilliard City Schools is using electric buses.
Community Engagement: In November 2021, Hilliard voters overwhelmingly passed a ballot issue to increase the income tax rate by 0.5 percent, resulting in an increased revenue stream to the City’s Recreation and Parks Department that launched the process of building a new community and wellness campus. The Path to Possibilities information campaign included outreach and meetings with several specific local audiences. The City broke ground on the construction of “The Well” in April 2023.
The entire list of communities named in the 2023 Top7 Intelligent include:
- Binh Duong Smart City, Vietnam
- Coral Gables, Florida, USA
- Curitiba, Parana, Brazil
- Durham Region, Ontario, Canada
- Greater Geelong, Victoria, Australia
- Hilliard, Ohio, USA
- Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia