Chattanooga was named Thursday to a list of the 21 most intelligent cities in the world, following a visit to the city in August by Robert Bell, co-founder of the Intelligent Community Forum.

Bell said at the time that Chattanooga's widespread broadband access and collaboration between public and private leaders had shown the city to be a leader in technology, and EPB announced the country's first gigabit Internet a few weeks later.

America's most intelligent cities

* Chattanooga

* Dakota County, Minn.

* Danville, Va.

* Dublin, Ohio

* Northeast Ohio

* Riverside, Calif.

Source: Intelligent Community Forum

Most intelligent communities outside the U.S.:

* Birmingham, United Kingdom

* Chongqing, China

* Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil

* Eindhoven, The Netherlands

* Ipswich, Queensland, Australia

* Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

* Jaipur, Rajasthan, India

* Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

* Shanghai, China

* Sopron, Hungary

* Stratford, Ontario, Canada

* Taoyuan County, Taiwan

* Trikala, Greece

* Windsor-Essex, Ontario, Canada

* Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Source: Intelligent Community Forum

Chris Daly, director of technology development and transfer at the Enterprise Center, said the recognition is a "validation of the progress we're making as a city."

"When we first talked to [Bell], we asked, 'What do you think of when you think of Chattanooga?'" Daly said, to which Bell responded, 'Honestly, nothing.'"

But after examining the city's efforts to expand business incubation and innovation, as well as its efforts in education, the New York broadband group named Chattanooga as one of six intelligent American cities.

"This year's Smart21 are using education networks and universities, both physical and virtual ones, in more innovative ways," said the forum's other co-founder, Louis Zacharilla, during the announcement ceremony in Suwon, South Korea.

Robert Phillips, executive director of the Chattanooga Technology Council, said that being the first city in the country with access to a gigabit of bandwidth "made a statement that we're serious about this as a community, and that we're going to do things not at a third-tier level, but at a first-tier level."

The Smart21 recognition serves as independent confirmation of the boardband achievements in Chattanooga, Mayor Ron Littlefield said.

"Chattanooga doesn't leap to mind as a technology leader," he said, "and yet, we've built the fastest and most comprehensive fiber-to-the-home network in America, and we're in the process of pioneering a smart grid that's light years ahead of what anyone else is doing."

Lynda Childress, president and CEO of Luken Holdings, said that she "agreed 100 percent" with the designation, calling Chattanooga "one of the top places to work and live."

The company is rolling out EPB fiber in the buildings it oversees, "making fiber an amenity in our buildings for our tenants," she said.

Local entrepreneur Bo Ferger said the recognition "makes complete sense."

"It's about time the rest of the world finds out about Chattanooga," Ferger said.