Smart Cities: Harnessing the Power of Technology in Local Government

The global economy is in constant turmoil, governments are challenged to provide levels of service that typically only private businesses can provide and disruptive technologies are transforming industry at a rapid pace. In this bold new era where change is unavoidable it is the innovative who are positioned to surely thrive.

In 2008, the global economy fell into recession; it was the most significant downturn since the Great Depression. Recovery has been a long and exasperating struggle; at times feeling like we are clinging to the edge of a cliff, desperately trying to hold on and weather-the-storm.

Some economists even predict we are on the verge of another global recession. Foreign and domestic factors are both significant contributors to the swelling pessimism; there is the unpredictability of Trump’s Tweets, the looming collapse of the Euro, the astonishingly low cost of crude oil, student loan debts suffocating young adults who are unable to contribute to economic growth and let’s not forget about the dreaded silver tsunami.

It’s fair to say the economic outlook for the United States and Canada is unsettling. As a result of financial uncertainty many government agencies across North America are seeing their budgets tightened, while expectations from constituents continue to rise. The public opinion towards government processes, civic services and budgetary spending has become progressively more volatile in recent years.

So, how does one do more with less? Well, when you consider that we live in a world where virtual reality, 3D printing, quadcopters, pocket-sized spectrometers, and self-driving cars are no longer simply things of science fiction, the answer may be staring us directly in the face.

There are a plethora of software solutions that assist with a wide range of government functions. The technologies available today disrupt the old ways of doing things; these are solutions that automate and streamline processes, compile and share information departmentally, increase citizen engagement and enable open governments.

Numerous communities across North America are seemingly transforming into smart cities overnight; governments are adopting innovative technologies as a means to become more efficient and generate new revenue. Even more uplifting is that these advancements in technology no longer simply cater to federal and state agencies, local governments are now consuming what has become repeatable and affordable technology solutions.

Optimism should not be confused with naivety. The challenges being confronted by governments are most certainly daunting and implementing change successfully warrants its own discussion, but regardless of these hurdles the solutions being developed out of necessity are truly inventive and inspiring. More and more government agencies seem eager to evolve, refusing to fear disruptive technology and instead utilizing it as an opportunity to prosper. Navigating through the complexities of this digital age is certainly no easy task, but in a world ripe for change to the innovative go the spoils.

Derek, an employee of the E-Government Consulting Firm zedIT Solutions, works in collaboration with colleagues and partners to weave through complexities of technology and help transform public sector clients into digitally enabled government agencies.