Following a year-long evaluation by the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF), Espoo, Finland was chosen as 2018's Intelligent Community of the Year. The announcement was made at a ceremony in London on Wednesday evening.
ICF co-founder Lou Zacharilla said that it's unusual for a community to receive the honour the first time they enter the programme.
"ICF is about process improvement over time. But Espoo’s holistic philosophy of humanizing every aspect of its technology and teaching innovation as a way of life was extremely impressive. Espoo's citizen engagement rates are extremely high, which democracies need, and its economic output speaks for itself. The city is a hidden gem in Finland. Now they have been 'found out!'"
Espoo took first place this year, according to the think-tank, because of the technologies that have become a cornerstone of life and work in the city.
The group applauded the city's education and technology sectors, its public broadband services as well as its public-private training programmes for the unemployed.
ICF: Espoo is "sustainable to the core"
Espoo is -- and has been -- home to many tech firms like Nokia, Microsoft and Rovio, and for years has had an active startup community which sparked others.
"The term 'industrial city' usually describes a place where the needs of industry outweigh the needs of citizens for air they can breathe, water they can drink and a safe place to raise their children. Not so in Espoo. An international benchmark has named Espoo the most sustainable city in Europe," the think-tank stated in a press release issued Wednesday.
This year marked the first time that a Nordic city has received the award since 2009, when it went to Stockholm, Sweden, and the first time it went to a European community since 2011 when the Dutch city of Eindhoven was named the winner.
The ICF is an international, networked group headquartered in New York City "which researches how Intelligent Communities use information and communications technology to build inclusive prosperity, solve social problems and enrich their quality of life in our connected century," according to the release.