Assessing The Fabric of Local Communities
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The performance of a local economy is conventionally described and measured by the employment,
productivity, investment and profitability of activities across all (vertical) sectors.
The scale of a local economy reflects
population demographics plus flows of people, goods and services – and the
consequential inward and outward flows of money.
Some local economies are more self-sufficient
simply by dint of greater local procurement whilst others are largely subject
to external forces.
of the local economy, however
precise, do not provide a full reading of the health or wellbeing of the local community. The community is more like a fabric with a
number of lateral threads woven through the vertical sectors – binding them
together. These threads are far less
easily measured and their relative priorities are more sensitive to local
all activity – whether vertical or lateral – is an infrastructure of basic
utilities: energy, transport, water, and the new enabler of digital
connectivity. Local connectivity not
only enables the economic sector activities but also has a huge role in the more-empowering
community fabric so described cannot be a complete picture – the realities are
far more complex and in a state of flux.
It does, however, provide a reference framework against which different
local communities may be assessed.
of the verticals – the economic sectors – provides a firm (observable)
grounding at least within regulated arenas and estimates can be made of any
additional untaxed activities.
of the contributions from the lateral threads are more subjective – particularly
as they are often experimental and interdependent. Local leadership of these collaborative
initiatives is hugely variable but global research over the past two decades
suggests that most of the threads (Figure 1, above) contribute significantly to
a cohesive sense of local wellbeing.
Large cities often invest heavily in ‘smart’ technologies to enable some of these impacts, but technology alone is often insufficient. Communities may be urban, rural, large or small, but with a strong citizen
perspective, we describe those communities that have a well-woven (close-knit)
fabric as ‘Intelligent Communities’.
governments are acutely aware that overall economic performance is the
aggregation of local endeavours. The
challenge for Local Leaders is to (a) assess their community’s real needs and
(b) find ways to strengthen the local fabric.
In that mission, the 2018 Global Summit will provide great opportunities
to share experiences and gain insights into how the priorities and solutions
are found in Intelligent Communities from around the world.