August 21, 2009 By Wayne Hanson
A guidebook intended for helping the elderly select age-friendly communities in which to live, does an excellent job of pointing out community features that would appeal to young families, individuals and nearly any other demographic. Obviously, individuals have different ideas about what constitutes an ideal community: some prefer rural life, others want to live in a large metropolitan area. Some prefer plenty of open space, others want to live at the seashore or in a cosy cabin in the mountains. But personal preferences aside, this EPA guidebook Growing Smarter, Living Healthier: A Guide to Smart Growth and Active Aging is a good read for anyone interested in exploring the many different types of community settings in which they may choose to live.
Work has become less location bound -- driven by high-speed Internet, wireless connectivity, the proliferation of mobile devices and a concerted effort to reduce greenhouse gasses -- with 75 percent of the workforce estimated to be mobile or mobile-enabled in the next two years. So the organization one works for will not necessarily determine where one lives, and choices may be much broader than they were.
So what makes an ideal community? A recent San Jose, Calif., poll rated proximity to shops and restaurants highest, followed by proximity to parks, trails or open space, followed by public transportation, cultural events and attractive buildings and streets.
All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.