Top Local Gov Tech Trends For 2015
Local governments are discovering increased savings and improvements to efficiency after investing in the latest technology innovations
Local governments are discovering increased savings and improvements to efficiency after investing in the latest technology innovations. These solutions work to simplify and streamline public agency operations to better serve employees and the community.
1. Cloud ComputingLocal governments nationwide are embracing cloud computing technology faster than ever. Not only does cloud computing make it easier for government agencies to work together and collaborate with the private sector, but it also helps cities save valuable time and money on projects of all sizes.
Because cloud computing has evolved into scalable solutions, municipalities of all sizes are making better use of their IT resources and budgets to improve performance while cutting back on maintenance and other extraneous costs.
California, for example, launched the CalCloud platform as part of its cloud-first policy. California expects to enjoy lower costs, accelerated processes and reduced risk while operating in the cloud. The IT investment is one of several the state has made to:
- Improve IT procurement
- Increase public sector cooperation and information sharing
- Reduce project risk
California officials expect the cloud platform to create a more flexible environment for bids and negotiations with private vendors on projects throughout the state.
2. Social EngagementSocial media is pervasive in society, and local governments are adopting new practices to leverage the communication platforms to enhance citizen engagement. Social media has become commonplace as more Americans report positive experiences and tangible benefits associated with social interactions. For Millennials using social media in particular, a Harris Poll found:
- 66 percent received advice on something to try
- 37 percent found a job opportunity
- 19 percent found a new apartment or house
Local governments are optimizing the social media boom by incorporating the platforms into everyday public services. Many municipalities are using online surveys and social sites to collect feedback, share information and test new policy ideas with the local community.
In Avondale, Arizona, for example, local citizens can post ideas on a forum regarding local government initiatives and other users can vote on the proposal. Williamsburg, Virginia, launched a smartphone app to help residents and businesses interact with the government by sending photos and messages directly to the appropriate department.
3. Data AnalyticsFurthermore, local governments are jumping on the big data bandwagon by collecting massive volumes of information on municipality activities and analyzing the results for real-time decision making support.
Most of the data being collected pertains to public agency operations and performance. The information can be used to identify areas of strengths and weaknesses so inefficiencies are eliminated and outcomes improve. This can be seen in Louisville’s LouieStat platform that focuses on the efficiency of operational workflow in the city’s various departments.
Cities are also investing in smart sensors that collect data on the municipality’s physical environment, infrastructure and happenings. These tools extend beyond public department operations and help officials gain insight into the daily hustle-and-bustle of local residents, businesses and visitors. These sensors not only provide detailed information to support innovative planning strategies, but also help developers construct more efficient infrastructure for long-term savings and sustainability.
4. Open DataFinally, local governments are using the latest technologies to increase transparency and accountability. By supporting open data platforms, cities are able to make information more accessible to residents and businesses in the community. The easier it is to find key information, the faster new projects can launch and economies can grow.
New York City leads the nation with its open data project that currently houses 1,200 datasets available to the public, followed closely behind by Chicago with more than 600 datasets. Furthermore, the U.S. Open Data Census recently named San Francisco as the best city in the country for open data use and accessibility.
To ensure investments in open data and other technologies are successful across all departments and initiatives, many local governments are creating IT-focused committees and policies. New York City, for example, recently relaunched a technology steering committee to oversee tech projects and policies. The committee will focus on expanding the role of technology with interdepartmental operations, as well as using the solutions to engage and collaborate with other organizations in the private sector.
Building Up TechGov1 has followed a variety of technology innovations at the local level that help agencies reduce costs, increase efficiency and better serve the community.