The concept of digital transformation has been resounding in the private and public sector leaders’ minds for the last couple years. While this is not a new idea, the conversation around it and the initiative on how to apply digital technology for human society’s benefit is gaining momentum. Throughout the public sector, technology has created not only the opportunity to provide a more efficient and interactive service for constituents, but also the challenge of how to sustain the escalating demand of an increasing population.
Today, more than 80-percent of the US population lives in urban areas. It is estimated that by the year 2050, 70-percent of the world’s population will reside in urban centers. When there is a fast growth rate in population, there becomes a greater need to supply all kind of resources. This includes everything from the reliability of energy and power, the quality of the air, and the flow of traffic. City government’s idea of digital transformation has evolved into a trendy concept: “Smart Cities.” Local government transformation pivots around sustainability development, flexibility and finding innovative ways to meet citizen’s expectations.
Cities have realized they need to become “smarter” in order to attract investments, new businesses and talent. Creative, entrepreneurial and data-oriented companies will relocate to cities with an innovative technology strategy to create new socio-economic opportunities in both the private and public sector. As a result of the implementation of new technologies, citizens will benefit from improved management of resources and cost-efficient tactics that will translate into a higher quality of life.
In the next 20 years, cities in the United States will invest around $41 trillion dollars to upgrade their technological infrastructure. Last September, the White House launched the Smart Cities Initiative to make it easier for cities, federal agencies, universities and the private sector to work together to research, develop and test new technologies that can help make cities more inhabitable, cleaner and more equitable. As part of this initiative, the government will invest in federal research to create new technology collaborations and help local communities tackle challenges including traffic, crime and economic growth.
Evolving into a Smart City brings multiple benefits for local governments. Once a smart initiative has been implemented, the city will see the return on its investment by realizing a significant reduction in operating costs. For example, investing in wireless sensors will reduce energy costs by managing city and traffic lights more efficiently. Major cities that install smart transport systems will realize savings of about $800 billion annually from 2030 onwards. Also, cities can deploy technology to improve service delivery to its residents. A good example would be water supply systems fitted with sensors to measure water pressure, chemical composition and flow. When undesirable changes occur, relevant authorities can take corrective measures immediately aided by real-time data.
By 2025, the world will have an estimate of 88 smart cities. The United States already has 21 cities committed to invest in smart technologies to help emergency responders, firefighters, law enforcement officers, traffic control workers and utility providers to become more efficient and to improve the management of city resources.