Non-profit policy research organisation, the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF), announced its World’s Smart 21 Communities of 2015 on October 21. This select group of communities will now be in contention for the prestigious designation of Intelligent Community of the Year in June 2015.

The smallest community on this year’s list is Mitchell, South Dakota, US, which has a population of just 15,000. Rio de Janeiro in Brazil is the largest, with a population of more than 6 million. 

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The Smart21 Communities of 2015 comprise five communities from the US, four from Australia, four from Taiwan, three from Canada, and one each from Brazil, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya and New Zealand. Not all are locations that are immediately thought of as ‘tech cities’.

“Tech is not all there is to a great community,” explained Louis Zacharilla, ICF's co-founder. “Some are aspirational, but all have launched programmes that are innovative, and will do something that most cities, towns and regions have been attempting since the broadband economy emerged: launch a successful and full-scale full revolt against brain drain and the creation of industries that will produce jobs.”

When asked what such diverse places located on so many different continents have in common, Robert Bell, co-founder of ICF, responded: “They share a vision of how to use information and communications technology to create prosperity, solve social problems and strengthen their culture. And, they offer many different models for getting it done.”           

This year, ICF introduced a 'revolutionary community' theme to the contest, which Mr Zacharilla said was “perfect for this group”.  The 'revolutionary community' focus is on the study of urban and regional planning and how it is impacting the way people live, work and create in their cities and towns. 

“Our honourees are places that have worked hard to get the benefits of the digital revolution instead of just experiencing its disruptions,” said Mr Bell.

In January, New York-based ICF will announce its top seven Intelligent Communities of the Year, and on June 11, 2015 in Toronto the organisation will announce the first place winner. Last year’s winner was Toronto, Ontario.