Ubiquity. City employees are no longer constrained to stay in the office to communicate. Field workers – from public safety personnel to transit operators – typically carry smartphones, tablets or laptops on the job. As valuable as these tools can be, they raise security issues if privileged information on them gets in the wrong hands.
Convergence. Urban consumers now have much more than music and pictures on their smartphones – they may also have payment instruments and loyalty cards. Because they connect to the Internet from multiple devices, they cannot store and use local data. Instead, that data needs to follow them around. To allow that “follow me everywhere” capability, payment systems must provide secure and convenient solutions based on cloud computing.
Transparency and control. Many new services allow citizens to make better choices – for instance, by delivering price comparisons or nutrition tips. And this also applies to public institutions. Citizens increasingly expect full visibility into public expenditures and return on investment.
Personalization. People want applications, offers and services tailored to their individual needs and delivered at just the right time – for example at the point of sale while shopping. As they become accustomed to personalization, they will expect it from their city government too.
The inclusion challenges cities can’t ignore
In many parts of the world, smartphones, and tablets seem ubiquitous. But a large portion of the global population does not yet have access to digital technology.
Similarly, the World Bank reported in 2014 that 2 billion adults worldwide are unbanked. But the situation is improving. According to a Gallup report, “The number of adults worldwide who report having an account at a formal financial institution or through a mobile device grew by an estimated 700 million between 2011 and 2014. Now, 62% of the world’s adult population has an account, which is up from 51% in 2011.”
Also, given the migratory nature of society today, many cities are seeing increasingly large segments of their populations who do not speak the native language.
All of these circumstances – lack of Internet access, digital technologies, banking services and language barriers – present challenges to cities, especially in financial services. Citizens without Internet access still need a way to take advantage of city services. Those who don’t use traditional banking still need a way to submit and receive payments. Those who don’t speak the native language still need a way to understand things like city tax and permitting requirements.