As mayors and city managers work to capture revenue from non-tax sources, strategic use of technology will become increasingly important. The mainstreaming of SmartCity technology is creating unprecedented opportunities for civic leaders to improve quality of life through cost effective initiatives in the areas of economic development, civic engagement and digital inclusion.
How do you define a ‘smart city’?
Fundamentally, smart cities use technology and process innovation to improve the quality of life for all stakeholders within a community. One could make the case that thanks to broad adoption of SmartPhone technology and broadband wireless, most cities are already ‘smart.’ However, so far, it is the private sector that is leading. City management is responding rather than proactively initiating a coherent strategy for harnessing smart technology in a way that improves quality of life for residents and visitors. It is an incredibly exciting time as a number of social, cultural, geo-political and technological factors are converging to drive a tremendous amount of innovation in this space.
What are some of the problems cities can solve by using digital technology?
Let’s start at the most fundamental level. In most cities, residents can usually tell you where their city hall is located. And yet, when it comes to online presence, the city is pretty much invisible. Most residents infrequently engage with their city’s website. In addition, when we visit other cities as tourists, do we use the city’s site for information? Probably not. We go to search engines and third-party sites. The time has come for that to change. The city should be as visible online as they are offline. The enabling technologies to provide a number of online consumer services such as e-commerce engines for dining, lodging, retail, business licensing and permitting are now available, increasingly mature and cost-effective.