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01/31/2005 - Spokane Ranks High in Worldwide Intelligent Community Competition

On January 19, 2005 in Honolulu Hawaii, the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) of New York City announced its top Intelligent Communities of the World. Spokane ranked in the top ten, as it had in 2003- 2004, and was again the highest ranking U. S. City.

According to the Intelligent Community Forum, an Intelligent Community has a combination of
· Significant deployment of broadband communications
· Effective education that builds a labor force for “knowledge work.”
· Government and private-sector programs that promote digital democracy.
· Innovation, innovation, and innovation
· Effective economic development marketing.

The greater Spokane area has well over 300 miles of optical fiber – reaching from Cheney, Washington to Newport, Washington, and from the West Plains to Hayden, Idaho. The city has the 100-block public/private downtown SpokaneHotZonesm. Spokane’s Educational Metropolitan Area Networks (EMAN) connect all of the schools within District 81, the Mead School District, and the school district in Coeur d’Alene. Spokane is connected.

With seven universities and colleges in the Spokane area, along with INTEC, trade schools, and the Biotechnology Academy, Spokane has no lack of “knowledge workers.”

Digital Democracy is exemplified by TINCAN (The Inland Northwest Community Access Network). Funded primarily by grants, TINCAN makes connectivity, Internet, and technology resources available to rural areas and to lower income individuals. TINCAN’s clients include school children through high school, community centers, and budding entrepreneurs in rural areas.

SafeDesk Solutions helps digital democracy as a private enterprise company through their work with Indian Tribes. Working with the tribes, Camas Institute, and Spokane’s Museum of Arts and Culture, the company’s software allows the Native American tribes to use multimedia to capture images of artifacts, photographs, and oral histories. Working with the Kalispel tribe, they have developed technology to teach and, therefore, preserve the Salish language through text, phonetic text, sound, and graphic example.

There is also an active Fiber-to-the-Home organization in Spokane whose mission is to bring optical fiber connectivity to every home at every economic level.

The amount of innovation in just the past year and a half is staggering. In that time, VPnet was completed and had five projects in progress. The SpokaneHotZonesm was deployed and is being used both by the public and for emergency response by police, fire, and Electronic Municipal Operations Support (EMOS.) Inland Northwest Health Services (INHS) increased TeleHealth offerings with “EMS Live @ Nite” classes for distant and rural emergency response volunteers, emergency medicine consultation programs between Deaconess Medical Center and rural clinics – even to the ski patrol hut on Mount Spokane – and expanded their TelePharmacy program. St. Anne’s Family Center pioneered fiber-to-the-nursery, so parents anywhere can watch their children in real time over the Internet. The University District advanced. INTEC developed a new program called Connect Northwest. The Terabyte Triangle census found 147 technology companies within its fuzzy boundaries. All of that, and more, have happened since June, 2003.

Spokane’s nomination, called “Terabyte Tapestry Reloaded,” was the work of many community participants. The tri-chairs overseeing the nomination were: Kim Pearman-Gillman, Avista Development Senior Vice President, Tom Reese, City of Spokane economic development, and Steve Simmons, PhD EWU computer science. Other committee members included Robin Toth, City of Spokane and Spokane Economic Development Council, Marla Nunberg, Downtown Spokane Partnership, and Bill Kalivas, INTEC. The nomination document was written by Billie Moreland, Billie Moreland and Associates, and the nomination Video was produced by ILF Media.

Equally important were the community sponsors who provided both cash and in-kind support. The sponsors included: Avista Corporation, Billie Moreland and Associates, City of Spokane, Columbia Fiber Solutions, Connect Northwest, Downtown Spokane Partnership, Eastern Washington University School of Computing & Engineering Sciences, Fernwell Building and Executive Suites, greggreen.com/One Eighty Networks, ILF Media Productions, Inland Northwest Health Services, INTEC, PNNL, SIRTI, Spokane Public Schools, Steam Plant Square, Time Warner Telecom, TINCAN, University District, Vivato, and VPnet.

Only those named in the top seven Intelligent Communities will advance toward ICF’s “worlds top Intelligent Community” designation in June. The top seven Intelligent Communities included Issy-les-Moulineaux, France (a suburb of Paris); Mitaka, Japan (a suburb of Tokyo); Pirai, Brazil; Singapore; Sunderland, United Kingdom; Tianjin, China; and Toronto, Canada. No U. S. cities were among the 2005 top seven.

The largest difference between the “Intelligence” of these communities and Spokane is that in all seven cases the Intelligent Community design had been ‘top down’, instigated by a government entity, then funded and put into place by the government. Spokane’s Intelligent Community is largely a grass roots initiative, planned and paid for by private enterprise. Local public funding, although important, was a lesser factor.

To read more about the Intelligent Community Forum and about the top seven, visit

Billie Moreland
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