Cities and regions that want to grow are embracing technology innovation. We see it all over the globe with local governments using newer technology to:

  • Better understand citizen needs and build services around those needs
  • Increase connectivity between people, places and things
  • Create flexible, adaptive and inclusive systems
  • Increase opportunities for collaboration

These kinds of activities help local governments provide fresh, new citizen services and become better-run cities, safer communities, economically prosperous regions, and environmentally responsible communities.

Achieving these goals requires the wise use of scarce public resources, particularly when budgets are constrained and governments face global competition to attract new businesses and workers. Therefore, local governments are consolidating and reducing where they can to free up resources for innovation.

Today, much technology innovation comes at very competitive pricing, and can provide immediate benefits to government in reducing costs in some areas while improving services in others. One specific example is the ability to put a sensor on a trash can so that a city knows when to empty the can instead of sending a truck out to empty it when it is hardly used. This reduces the expense of sending the truck and prevents a slow-moving vehicle from making multiple stops in the city, improving traffic flow. The city saves money and the citizens are happy that traffic is moving better. In this case, the solution may include small sensor chips placed in municipal trash cans, and a lightweight app to collect the sensor information and provide quick analytics and notifications.

Exposure to more open data, coupled with development of lightweight or mobile applications that can be hosted in cloud environments, provides a hotbed of innovation for cities and regions. The challenge for local leaders is to ensure that the innovation is managed appropriately. Similar to the 1990s and 2000s technology movement that created a “shadow IT” environment of un-governed databases and applications, today’s innovation explosion can lead to unmanaged technology sprawl that adds new challenges.

Today, the cloud offers so many easy avenues for employees to deploy new applications, many of which can add risks and not meet numerous agency standards or requirements. While such deployments may provide valuable operational capabilities and services, they also create multiple points of security vulnerability and may be inconsistent with a local government’s enterprise architecture and technology roadmap. All of this can eventually slow networks and services, hamper information sharing, and drive up IT management costs.

Local officials can say “yes” to innovation, but they also need to ensure there is management and governance of the innovation. At CGI, we developed CGI Unify360 as a way for these leaders to say “yes” with better confidence.

I invite you to read more on this topic in our new white paper, Managing Innovation to Sustain Growth and Prosperity: How local governments can spark technology innovation while mitigating risk.

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