Smart Cities Can Succeed After the Pandemic

Over the past year, with the impacts of the pandemic and the economic fallout taking center stage, ongoing operations and ultimately recovery, has shifted to targeted programming, offering solutions on energy, mobility, infrastructure, and other core smart city priorities.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every facet of government operations, particularly city budgets. As a result, governments have reconsidered their smart city initiatives, with global numbers for smart city projects dropping enormously in the past year.

Smart Cities Must Choose Goals Carefully in Today’s Environment
Smart energy projects are a clear example of core initiatives that smart city technology can successfully scale. These types of projects are an easy sell because of the concerted push cities have made to achieve sustainability goals. With the United States rejoining the Paris Agreement there is a stronger imperative at all levels of government to meet broad-based climate goals and smart energy projects bringing short-term payoffs on investment compared with other smart city projects. For success, partnerships are critical, with the right partners helping to make informed decisions.

Officials Should Talk to the Community About Smart City Projects
Community input is another critical component to driving positive outcomes with public feedback on large-scale city solutions. Making the community’s voice heard from the very beginning is crucial for cities to successfully implement smart cities programs, ensuring that they are not simply assuming the needs of their residents but instead are providing solutions to problems residents actually face.

Smart City Officials Must Carefully Plan for the Future
To successfully implement smart city policies, cities should focus specifically on the outcomes they want to achieve, and partner not only with the private sector but with universities and nonprofit organizations to leverage expanded opportunities. Cities should have a clear vision of the future and then find solutions that help to achieve that vision.

This as a critical time to reimagine what it means to integrate technology and data into governance and governing. This means thinking about things like digital inclusion and how the use of smart technologies impacts marginalized residents. It is an opportune time to center some of the big systemic problems that have been thrust to the forefront during the confluence of the pandemic, its economic fallout, and civil rights movement in the technology conversation.

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