Please Share This Story!
- Promote deeper engagement with residents and businesses.Building a smarter city requires the trust and support of the people who live there. Although public trust in local governments remains high, the plummet in trust in the federal government over the past decade suggests that trust is never guaranteed. Active local engagement can ensure the public’s ideas and concerns are heard and addressed throughout any design and execution process. Engaging citizens not only has inherent value, but also helps garner trust and buy-in throughout the process. You can’t plan city and metropolitan futures in private office rooms; building a smart city requires engagement.
- Intentionally build strong, formal collaborations between public, private, and civic actors. If metro areas are collections of people, businesses, and institutions, we must recognize municipalities shouldn’t always run point. The city of Atlanta collaborates with the Metro Atlanta Chamber and its corporate partners, Georgia Tech, and other research and advocacy organizations to make good on commitments like SmartATL. Critically, Georgia Tech is pursuing statewide efforts to scale digitalization strategies, joining a small cohort of other states like Illinois that are exploring the same concepts. Metro areas must find ways to leverage local corporate, philanthropic, and nonprofit expertise to both inform long-term planning and establish sustainable efforts focused on digital tech.
- Modernize governments’ approach to data collection and use.Recent developments in technology have exponentially increased the private sector’s ability to collect, store, and analyze data, while the government lags further and further behind. Private companies like Google and AT&T better understand how people are using public infrastructure than the government itself, while computing models move to the cloud. However, the incentives for private-public data sharing may not align, procurement models are outdated, and public staffing capacities struggle to compete. This tide will only grow more intense as next-level technologies, including artificial intelligence, put new pressures on local governments. To better keep up, state and local governments will need to think creatively about how to more effectively build internal capacity.
- Establish new performance measures and goals based on collective outcomes. It is promising that some smart city actors now lead with long-term planning when designing local programs and investment strategies. But to deliver on what are often complex outcomes—promoting social inclusion, reducing environmental waste, and growing entrepreneurial ecosystems—the public sector and its partners need new sets of performance measures and data to reflect the challenges of today. Old measures like roadway congestion or metro-scale innovation are not enough. New measures should address questions such as: Why are people driving from a certain neighborhood at a certain time? Which neighborhoods struggle to build successful startup businesses, and which social communities are left out? Performance measurement must evolve with the times.