Benefits of digital city services
Smart technologies bring substantial benefits to society, to government and to the economy.
Increased citizen engagement. The digital wave is transforming the relationship between governments and their customers. Governments can now engage much more deeply with citizens, actively involving them in planning and policymaking.
Digital technologies allow citizens to participate more conveniently and more fully in the planning and operation of their city. That participation may include online participation in surveys, budgeting, council meetings, and town hall meetings. It may also include ways for citizens to help the city, by reporting problems or by helping the police in their investigations. For example, Boston’s BOS:311 app lets citizens report things that need fixing, such as potholes or public lighting. Once fixed, the city worker snaps a photo of the repair and sends it to whoever reported the fault. Some even include a photo of the work crew.
Digital technologies also allow governments to listen to their constituents more conveniently, quickly and accurately. Citizens express their thoughts, beliefs, and needs in millions of digital conversations each day. The vast majority of those conversations are NOT direct communications with the city, but conversations with each other.
Cities can now apply advanced analytics to publicly posted information such as traditional print, social media, blogs, forums, message boards, wikis, online videos, even TV and radio. These analytics provide deeper insights into how city programs are received by constituents. And they allow cities to more easily spot issues and trends, so they can take more informed steps to address problems and opportunities.
Increased employee productivity. The same technologies that help citizens can also make City Hall leaner, faster and more effective. First, they make employees more efficient by giving them digital tools to do their jobs, even when they’re in the field. Second, they make employees smarter. Analytics can help governments identify pain points, plan more successfully and enforce more effectively (tax fraud, for instance).
Third, smart technologies make it easier for departments to collaborate. For instance, even if buses, metros, trams and trains don’t connect physically, a smart app can merge them into an integrated service. Likewise, infrastructure such as power, water, storm water, sewage, waste management and roads can be monitored digitally, creating new insights and solutions not possible when each component lives in its own silo. This cross-cutting collaboration also enhances service delivery for customers, who get a one-stop shop to meet their needs.
Going digital is far more than improving the "front end" of service delivery. It is essential to re-think and (in some cases) re-make the back end business processes.