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New technology, particularly Big Data and the cloud are transforming how government works. And changes aren’t limited exclusively to federal and state governments. City governments now see technology as an opportunity to become more efficient and to improve the quality of life that they can offer their residents. The spending by cities on technology is part of a movement that is being called ‘Smart Government’.
City governments too are expected to spend upwards of $1.4 billion annually on ‘smart government’ initiatives by 2017. Pike Research, a part of Navigant’s Energy Practice, estimates that cumulatively cities will spend $4.8 billion on smart government technologies between 2011 and 2017.
Eric Woods, research director at Pike Research said that “Cloud-based computing, in particular, offers new options for cities that reduces capital expenditure, provides access to new skills and reduces time-to-deployment of new solutions. Cloud-based systems also enable cities to take advantage of the huge amounts of operational data they collect to improve efficiency and develop new services.”
The Pike Research report cites examples worldwide of cities that are executing on plans for building smart government. New York City and Manchester are building digital commerce tools. Denver, Copenhagen, and Amsterdam are mentioned for their efforts in innovating and developing municipal clean tech programs. Barcelona and Friedrichshafen have high technology programs in place. Singapore and Songdo are investing in technology to remain regional trading hubs.
‘Smart Government’ is closely linked to the idea of ‘smart cities‘, a term that Boyd Cohen of co.Exist defines as “cities which use information and communication technologies (ICT) to be more intelligent and efficient in the use of resources, resulting in cost and energy savings, improved service delivery and quality of life, and reduced environmental footprint–all supporting innovation and the low-carbon economy.” co.Exist ranks the top 10 ‘smart cities’. That list being topped by Vienna, Toronto, Paris and New York.
Bruce Katz, vice president and director of the Metropolitan Policy Program, wrote for the Brookings Institution, that the benefit of creating ‘smart cities’ is that these “cities and metropolitan areas will use technology to manage urban congestion, maximize energy efficiency, enhance public security, allocate scarce resources based on real time evidence, even educate their citizenry through remote learning.”