4 Questions Metropolis Leaders Ought to Ask Earlier than Adopting Tech

The pandemic accelerated the necessity for digital fairness and for cities to ship companies nearly….

  • The pandemic accelerated the necessity for digital fairness and for cities to ship companies nearly.
  • However earlier than continuing with digital transformation, metropolis leaders ought to ask a number of key questions.
  • Determine if the answer is resident-forward, if employees are outfitted, and if the dangers are value it.
  • This text is a part of a sequence targeted on American cities constructing a greater tomorrow known as “Advancing Cities.”

Digital transformation — adopting know-how and leveraging the information it generates — can allow metropolis leaders to supply extra environment friendly public companies, construct stronger relationships with residents, and discover options to frequent issues.

headshot of Jim Anderson

Jim Anderson.

Courtesy of Jim Anderson



“Digital transformation represents an unbelievable alternative for native governments to supply extra worth in individuals’s lives, oftentimes to do it extra effectively, and nearly all the time to do it in ways in which meet individuals the place they’re,” Jim Anderson, the pinnacle of presidency innovation applications at Bloomberg Philanthropies, instructed Insider.

Digital transformation for cities can embrace something from techniques to processing ticket funds to incorporating the web of issues in site visitors administration, mentioned Vanessa Frias-Martinez, an affiliate professor on the College of Maryland Faculty of Info Research.

headshot of Vanessa Frias-Martinez

Vanessa Frias-Martinez.

Courtesy of Vanessa Frias-Martinez



“It might additionally consult with techniques and infrastructure that may extra instantly enhance high quality of life, together with reasonably priced broadband service for digital fairness,” she mentioned. 

Many cities do not but have a powerful digital-transformation technique, Anderson mentioned, however the pandemic has accelerated the necessity for it and for municipalities to ship higher companies to older residents, the homeless, and different weak populations nearly.

For those who’re a metropolis chief contemplating placing plans in place to put money into tech, listed here are crucial inquiries to ask your self to be sure to see optimistic outcomes.

1. Is digital transformation really the reply to our issues?

Expertise is not the answer to each situation cities face.

“Will the communities affected by a given digital transformation embrace and profit from that resolution?” Frias-Martinez mentioned. “Typically, bettering neighborhood and group relations or streamlining decision-making processes may be extra useful than deploying new know-how.”

When Bloomberg Philanthropies works with cities to create digital methods that drive progress, Anderson mentioned it asks leaders to consider methods digital transformation aligns with a metropolis’s objectives and a group’s values.

“The place we see success is when mayors and group members are clear about the issue they need to resolve,” he mentioned. “They’re approaching that drawback with an innovator’s openness. Possibly know-how is a part of the answer, perhaps it isn’t.”

Phoenix, Arizona, for instance, is leveraging information assortment by launching the Metropolis Supervisor’s Efficiency Dashboard this yr to let the general public observe 130 metrics, together with public security, sustainability, and warmth response. The town additionally launched FUNDPHX to coach residents on the town’s budgeting course of and enhance transparency and entry to funding.

2. Are we partaking residents and specializing in their wants? 

Many cities have made incremental progress on innovation, however Anderson mentioned the pandemic confirmed cities that they should set extra bold objectives.

The pandemic has caused many societal modifications that require know-how,” Frias-Martinez added. “Distant work by metropolis staff or digital studying in public-school techniques can’t be carried out with out entry to reasonably priced, high quality broadband and to units to connect with the web.”

Residents needs to be concerned from day one. Involving the group helps metropolis leaders perceive what the wants of the members really are, and giving residents a say in how digital transformation is deployed and carried out will make adoption simpler, Frias-Martinez mentioned.

Kansas Metropolis, for instance, surveys residents every fiscal yr to know how glad or dissatisfied they’re with metropolis companies, similar to police security, airport companies, and metropolis communications, and find out about residents’ priorities. Survey outcomes are then displayed on a web-based public dashboard.

3. Are metropolis employees educated in information fluency and analytics?

Upskilling current workers on information fluency and guaranteeing that new hires have information abilities is essential as cities embrace digital transformation.

“If we’re making an attempt to construct native governments which can be in a position to make the most of information in day by day decision-making and to leverage information as a strategic asset, we have to have a workforce that may be the steward of that info and perceive the way it’s used,” Anderson mentioned, including that Bloomberg Philanthropies presents the “What Works Cities” certification, which supplies metropolis leaders with technical assist and coaching.

Public-private partnerships, similar to between cities and academia or group organizations, also can assist cities supply the infrastructure, individuals, and technical sources wanted for innovation, Frias-Martinez added, in addition to prepare and create new job alternatives for residents in communities affected by digital transformation. For instance, the Nationwide Science Basis Good and Related Communities initiative funds analysis to determine a group’s native challenges and develop and take a look at options for these issues.

4. Are cities ready for the dangers that include digital transformation? 

Digital transformation could also be essential for cities to satisfy residents’ calls for of the longer term, however the options “may come at a value — each financial and human,” Frias-Martinez mentioned. 

For instance, digitizing techniques will increase data-security dangers, which can require that cities make investments extra in cybersecurity. Some digital-transformation initiatives can negatively impression communities, like gunshot-detection techniques that improve stop-and-frisk situations.

Earlier than deploying digital-transformation initiatives, metropolis leaders ought to assume by way of any destructive impacts the know-how could have, which teams may be impacted, and the way they’re going to defend residents’ privateness, Frias-Martinez mentioned.

“Take into consideration the implications and trade-offs of deploying such know-how,” she mentioned.