February 23, 2018

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City's smarts on world stage

Winnipeg a finalist on intelligent communities list

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES</p><p>Economic Development Winnipeg CEO Dayna Spiring says the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s work digitizing Indigenous stories is an example of important data work being done in the city.</p></p>

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Economic Development Winnipeg CEO Dayna Spiring says the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s work digitizing Indigenous stories is an example of important data work being done in the city.

Winnipeg has once again been named one of the seven finalists in the Intelligent Community of the Year program, the third time in the last five years it has been in the running.

It is the New York-based think tank’s 16th annual top seven list. Last year Melbourne, Australia, took top honour. Winnipeg has made it to the top 21 six times in the past 10 years.

The theme of this year’s process was to highlight the concept of humanizing data, which the Intelligent Communities Forum characterizes as exploring the “intersection between big data and open data, and the impacts of a data-driven economy on communities.”

The forum noted Winnipeg’s efforts in “pursuing economic growth by better connecting industry and education, while better equipping its large Aboriginal population for opportunity.”

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Winnipeg has once again been named one of the seven finalists in the Intelligent Community of the Year program, the third time in the last five years it has been in the running.

It is the New York-based think tank’s 16th annual top seven list. Last year Melbourne, Australia, took top honour. Winnipeg has made it to the top 21 six times in the past 10 years.

The theme of this year’s process was to highlight the concept of humanizing data, which the Intelligent Communities Forum characterizes as exploring the "intersection between big data and open data, and the impacts of a data-driven economy on communities."

The forum noted Winnipeg’s efforts in "pursuing economic growth by better connecting industry and education, while better equipping its large Aboriginal population for opportunity."

"Third time in five years," said Dayna Spiring, CEO of Economic Development Winnipeg. "How great is that? It is exciting. Everyone likes to be called intelligent."

The city’s large Indigenous community means opportunities and challenges. Spiring noted the fact that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is based here "is a feather in our cap."

"We have digitized lots of those stories," she said. "It is important work that is happening here in Winnipeg."

Spiring said the undertaking to produce the application means "we go out and turn over every rock to see what everyone is doing."

"It gives us great market intelligence," she said.

Spiring said she believes the more Winnipeggers — and outsiders — know about the successes occurring here, it will encourage more of the same.

"We all know about SkipTheDishes and Farmers Edge and the big data work at the city," she said. "We need to understand what our success stories are. I do believe that success breeds success."

The Intelligent Community of the Year will be announced at an event in London, England, on June 4.

Joining Winnipeg as the seven finalists are: Chiayi City, Taiwan; Espoo, Finland; Hamilton, Ont.; Ipswich, Australia; Tainan City, Taiwan; and Taoyuan, Taiwan.

Espoo, Hamilton and Tainan City are making their first appearances on the list. Along with Winnipeg, it is also Ipswich and Taoyuan’s third appearances among the final seven. It’s the second time Chiayi City has made it to the finals.

While some might raise their eyebrows at the frequency in which Winnipeg ranks highly in this program, Spiring said the city is fully prepared to keep raising its hand to get noticed.

"Some people say, ‘Winnipeg. Are you kidding?’" she said. "Well, we’re not kidding and we will keep sticking up our hand."

martin.cash@freepress.mb.ca

Read more by Martin Cash.

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Updated on Tuesday, February 13, 2018 at 8:33 AM CST: Adds photo

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