In an age where citizens are operating at internet speeds, cities are being slowed down by unwieldy city government processes.
A city government exists to serve its community members, yet having to spend hours to even months waiting for things such as acquiring the proper permits or licenses, to getting approval to move forward with projects is a big damper on business.
Citizens’ needs and concerns, and the customer service they are provided needs to be addressed across the board, and many cities have begun stepping up to this challenge.
By having the mindset that citizens are customers, this forward-thinking mindset by city governments can really change communities for the better and allow them to flourish. Just look at Indianapolis, D.C., where parking apps have replaced meters, allowing customers to pay and add time remotely, and not worry about having enough loose change. And New York and Boston are looking at ways to deal with parking fines via smartphones.
In a progressive move, Anchorage will be updating its lighting, with over 4,000 lights using energy-efficient LED bulbs, and these lights can be controlled wirelessly. The next stage of this upgrade plan will be to use the light poles to monitor traffic and record air quality. These examples show urban vision that uses smart technology to make citizen mobility and quality of life better.
Private sector needs to step up?
Another company with this focus is Sidewalk Labs. They work with cities to find technology solutions to regularly occurring issues, such as commuting, social services and affordable housing problems
The U.S. Department of Transportation also promoted its “Smart City Challenge” this year, with the goal of improving urban transportation. Seven participants were selected from a group of 78 entrants for the $40 million award.
These examples are a great start in the right direction for improving cities and focusing on the well-being of citizens. Hopefully we can see more cities begin to follow suit.