Looking across the winners in this year’s Digital Cities Survey, it’s easy at first glance to perceive a fragmented technology landscape.
Tech initiatives among large and small municipalities ran the gamut from security enhancements to mobility efforts. Cities moved resources to the cloud, pushed for greater data transparency and looked at ways to leverage broadband assets.
All over the map? Perhaps so, but there are nonetheless some common themes that unite this year’s winners. Across the winning cities, IT leaders are looking at ways to make government more efficient, more effective and more responsive to citizen needs. They pursue technology not as an end in itself but as a means to an end.
L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti doesn’t want to talk about gizmos and apps. He wants to solve problems.
“A digital city is a city that doesn’t look at technology as an ‘issue area’ but as a fundamental value,” he said. “We in Los Angeles have tried to change the conversation about technology as being something limited, and discussed by the few and held by the elite, to being something that is truly democratized and expected of our leaders and our citizens.”
In practical terms, the city recently launched the Data Science Federation, a partnership with 12 local universities focusing on homelessness, among other issues. The city invested in a new chatbot project for citizen engagement and launched a cybersecurity training initiative aimed at local businesses.
“People want some fundamental things,” the mayor said. “They want government to deliver good services and to be open and trustworthy. Technology is the enabler of more democracy, more efficiency and better service.”
This view is fundamental to the city’s digital strategy. “If you approach it that way, rather than as cool gadgets and apps, you will find technological accelerators for everything you want to do in government.”
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