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Smartest Cities in America

Updated on November 27, 2016
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Ms. Inglish has 30 years of successful experience in medicine, psychology, STEM courses, and aerospace education (CAP).

Smart Cities Are Inventive

"Nuclear light bulb" spacecraft engine. Smart Cities are home to new industries and new transportation modes in the world.
"Nuclear light bulb" spacecraft engine. Smart Cities are home to new industries and new transportation modes in the world.


The Smart6 Cities are the American members of the Smart21 Cities named annually.

The American winners in the Smart21 Cities designation by Intelligent Community for 2010 are listed below in alphabetical order. As in 2009, North America is home to 10 Smart21 Cities; but unlike 2009, the list contains different names. Albany and Westchester Counties in New York and Ashland, Oregon are no longer on the list.

Dublin, Ohio – the fastest growing place in the state – is now a Smart21 City for three years running.

Just what defines a Smart City for this survey performed and presented by Intelligent Community each year?

The cities and town on the Smart21 list are college towns full of colleges and universities that produce large numbers of graduates and that partner with business and local/federal governments to create new high-tech, new-tech, and clean-tech jobs.

How many of these new graduates stay in the cities in which they complete their academic degrees? If it is Ohio's Dublin, then perhaps not a large percentage, since Ohio in the 2000s and 2010s is losing gradates to other states in which employment and business incentives are more attractive. How smart is that?

On the other hand, Dublin is the fastest-growing place in Ohio; people are moving in faster than graduates are moving out. Something smart is going on there.

Smart21 for 2013 and 2017

The chosen communties around the world considered the Smart21 for 2013 are in the following list. Three are located in the USA and several are in Canada.

  1. Ballarat, Victoria, Australia
  2. Castelo de Vide, Portugal
  3. Columbus, Ohio, USA: Awarded the honor in 2013 and 2014.
  4. Heraklion, Crete, Greece
  5. Hsinchu City, Taiwan
  6. Jiading New City, China
  7. Kingston, Ontario, Canada
  8. Mitchell, South Dakota, USA
  9. Oulu, Finland
  10. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
  11. Prospect, So. Australia, Australia
  12. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  13. Stratford, Ontario, Canada
  14. Taichung City, Taiwan
  15. Tallinn, Estonia
  16. Taoyuan County, Taiwan
  17. Tirana, Albania
  18. Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  19. Wanganui, New Zealand
  20. Whittlesea, Victoria, Australia
  21. Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

American Additions to the Smart21

Three US cities were added in 2014: Arlington County VA (also in 2013 and 2015), Mitchell SD (also in 2013 and 2015), Walla Walla WA.

Three US cities joined the list in 2015: Arlington County VA, Aurora IL, Dubuque IA,

Two US cities were added in 2016: Marlborough MA, San Diego CA.

One US city was added in 2017: Rochester NY.

Smart21 Cities of 2017

  1. Astana, Kazakhstan
  2. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  3. Chiayi City, Taiwan
  4. Pickering, Ontario, Canada
  5. Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  6. Prospect, South Australia, Australia
  7. Grey County, Ontario, Canada
  8. Rochester, New York, US
  9. AIpswich, Queensland, Australia
  10. Sarnia-Lambton, Ontario, Canada
  11. Keelung City, Taiwan
  12. Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia
  13. Knowle West,Bristol, United Kingdom
  14. Tainan City, Taiwan
  15. Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  16. Taoyuan, Taiwan
  17. Moscow, Russia
  18. Whanganui, New ZealandNelson,
  19. British Columbia, Canada
  20. Yilan County, Taiwan
  21. New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada

American Smart21 Cities

Arlington National Cemetery | Smart6 for 2010

Arlington County, Virginia

A markerArlington County, Virginia -
Arlington County, VA, USA
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Arlington County, Virginia

2010 Population 210,000

This is smallest self-governing county in nation, thriving thus beside Washington DC and its tradition of community involvement with government, private sector, and universities.  In the 1970s, a planning commission created zoning system to group business and residential developments around bus and train stops in the DC Metro catchment. 

In addition, Arlington County developed additional open space; bike-hike paths, public transit and Employment & Training opportunities. As a result, broadband, distance education, and STEM careers as well as entrepreneurship have influenced the region’s youth to succeed.  Residents overall possess advance degrees, move in from 125 other nations, and speak 100 languages; but are united in business and community groups for positive change. 

Bristol, Virginia/Tennessee

A markerBristol, Virginia -
Bristol, VA, USA
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Bristol, Virginia

2010 population 17,500

Bristol is a rural community in a low-income region that long depended on tobacco and coal production. With these industries on the downswing, others have become necessary to keep the city and its population solvent. The Digital Divide needed to be bridged in a new technologically-driven effort and Bristol seized that opportunity. It has been a Smart21 City for two years.

Bristol moved into the 21st Century in the late 1990s, when it began pursuing its own fiber network, which it achieved and named OptiNet. Its first deployment was in serving local government entities and school systems, followed by business use and residential applications. It then grew to service four entire Virginia counties.

OptiNet saved its customers over $10 million in the 2000s alone, while drawing $50 million in private investments from new technology companies. The high tech advancement also worked to improve education and healthcare through digital communications and tools for work. Further economic development is expected through partnerships more easily formed digitally, among government at the federal, state, county, and local levels; higher education, and business. This is a winning combination in one of America's Fastest Growing Places and Best Cities for Work and Business.

Dublin (Columbus Suburb), Ohio

A markerDublin, Ohio -
Dublin, OH, USA
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Dublin, Ohio

2010 Population 40,000

Dublin has been a Smart21 city for three years in 2008, 2009, 2010. It has a city-wide Wi-Fi system that helps make it the fastest growing place in the State of Ohio. Communication and transportation are high class and easy and the city is headquarters for Fortune 500 companies that include Wendy’s, Ashland, and Cardinal Health. Companies such as OhioHealth and the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC), are also happy to take advantage of the Dublin technologies of Wi-Fi and dark fiber.

It is difficult to believe that in the mid-1800s, Dublin and Muirfield Golf Course (hosting the Memorial Day Tournament) was once the Wild West with muddy streets, saloons, and prospectors. In the 2000s, it became the hub of a supercomputer-linked network of K-12 schools, colleges, universities, and hospitals. This is the difference between Gun Smoke and Sir Arthur Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey. Now, 80% of the population has an earned college degree.

Dublin leaders thought "telecom." They took a risk and engaged partners and constructed a system of underground conduits for future fiber-optics networking. This is a far cry from the muddy streets of the Wild West and a single telegraph office. The network emerged and became DubLink, partnered by the Ohio Supercomputer Center to create the Central Ohio Research Network or CORN, reflected by Dublin's famous concrete corn field art installation (see the link below for a view).

By 2009, Dublin had completed a total Wi-Fi network encompassing all city offices/installations and leaving enough to support wifi service provides room on the platform to reach private customers as well. Dark fiber is used to support and connect OhioHealth and the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) and to promote growth revenues of approximately 20 Dublin-area commercial companies.

Dakota County, Minnesota

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Dakota County, MN, USA
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Dakota County, Minnesota

2010 Population 398,500
Just south of Minneapolis-St. Paul is Dakota County, which extends into rural Midwestern Minnesota made famous by Garrison Keillor and the weekly Prairie Home Companion radio show over many decades.

The county is supported by diversified economies: manufacturing, IT, food, clean energy, chemical plants and real estate. During the 2008 – 2009 Recession, the county pushed ahead with partnerships among community colleges, businesses, and government to increase business and jobs. Entrepreneurs bloomed and made use of the enhanced Education and Training programs and schools available.

There is practically no Digital Divide in Dakota County and the few remaining of Dakota Nation for which it is named enjoy the same Wi-Fi as Big Business. IT is a healthy economic base, supplemented by medical devices, logistics, and new industries emerging from partnerships mentioned above.

Jobs have increased considerably, with new ICT jobs equal in number to 8% of the total population. The impressively strong development nonprofit, Dakota Future, is leading toward even more sustainable growth at

Danville, Virginia

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Danville, VA, USA
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Declining Industries Replaced In Danville VA

In 1911, young girls rolled cigarettes in the Danville Cigarette Factory.
In 1911, young girls rolled cigarettes in the Danville Cigarette Factory.

Danville, Virginia

2010 Population 49,000

In 1970 Disco America, Danville was the economic stronghold in Central Virginia. Its leading industries lost power in declining textiles and such, so Danville pursues Information Technology into the 21st Century with gusto.

The nDanville open-access fiber network exploded in connectivity for business, government, and residential applications. The fiber infrastructure is self-sustaining and impressive at 125 miles of fiber that serves private and public sectors equally well. In addition, the city and county governments collaborated in a Business Incubator operated with Virginia Tech for a new research entity that investigates ways to create new jobs through innovations in healthcare, aerospace, manufacturing, and many other sectors. It is a winning project.

New employers emerge from the Incubator to become quickly self-sustainable. This attracts other commerce, such as the Danville Ikea plant, the company’s first North American manufacturing plant.

Riverside, California

A markerRiverside, California -
Riverside, CA, USA
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Riverside, California

2010 Population 291,000
Riverside is a college town, which is usually a good sign that recession does not hinder its development of business and jobs. It is also a growing suburb of Los Angeles and Palm Springs, as well as a warehousing and logistics center and citrus hub. Millions of square feet of commercial and industrial space have been added. These five characteristics make Riverside smart.

Strong population growth was not matched by income growth in 2009, but 2010 brought change. New leadership set the goal of making Riverside a high-tech city with increasing numbers of jobs. It partnered with its universities and created technology parks, business incubators, business accelerators and internship/mentoring programs.

The turnaround was quick. AT&T deployed a citywide Wi-Fi network, Riverside became an anchor tenant and AT&T began offering free low-speed access, with higher tiers available for a fee. A new fiber network slashed costs. In 2010, wireless networks reach 80% of the city and the Digital Divide is almost closed.

Any family that successfully completes training receives a free PC refurbished by ex-gang members. This green program makes Smart Riverside the primate collector of “e-waste” in the region.

© 2010 Patty Inglish


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    • acts38-39 profile image

      acts38-39 7 years ago

      Hi Patty!

      Great Hub, very nice. And very informative.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you, Patty, for writing such a wonderful hub for me to read and full of information.

    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 7 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      Nice to see the smartest cities here.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 7 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Thank, Everyone. I'm closest to Dublin and can say that even the highway interchanges are works of art and landscaping attractions. It's all absolutely packed during the Memorial Tourament, which is coming up shortly. The architecture of the large churches is also interesting, but the city-wide Wi-Fi network is one of the biggest accomplishments. One other suburb has Wi-Fi, but only in 4 square blocks and it is inconsistent connectivity. Dublin is successful with consistent connections.

    • alekhouse profile image

      Nancy Hinchliff 7 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Both informative and interesting, Patty. You write so well. Thanks.

    • Enlydia Listener profile image

      Enlydia Listener 7 years ago from trailer in the country


    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 7 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      That's great, samsons1. Bristol is certainly on the move - probably in Tennessee as well.

    • samsons1 profile image

      Sam 7 years ago from Tennessee

      Thanks Patty for the well written and interesting article. I was born in Bristol Virginia, and raised across town in Bristol Tennessee, now residing about 25 miles from there. Will make sure to publicize this article locally.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 7 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Thanks, Deborah - I'll have a look at Evaston and see what's up. It might rate a City Review!

    • Deborah Demander profile image

      Deborah Demander 7 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      That was a very informative hub. I'm surprised not to see Evanston Wyoming on that list.

      I'm from Boulder, Colorado, and will google that list to see if Boulder has ever made it.