2020 is projected to be a busy year for government – it’s an election year, citizens are increasingly engaging with their local governments and new technologies are continuously raising the public’s expectations of their government’s services. With this in mind, municipalities should be focused on preparing for the year ahead. Below are the three significant trends for local governments in the upcoming year:

Trend #1: The Rise of the Smart City

The age of pilot programs and test implementations are only just beginning as more and more cities and towns are eager to turn their communities into tech savvy hubs.  Government workforces are becoming more innovative than ever in hopes of attracting more businesses and citizens to their communities. Municipalities are becoming more technologically advanced as a result of more federal grant funding of smart city initiatives.

Among the new emerging technologies which smart cities will increasingly adopt is artificial intelligence (AI). When used in conjunction with smart city initiatives, like driverless cars and buses, AI can help solve challenging issues such as traffic congestion, energy usage and limited land use. For example, a driverless car can drop off passengers at a designated drop-off zone and proceed to park itself miles away outside of city limits, eliminating the need for parking lots and garages in crowded cities. By leveraging data analytics, energy efficient, driverless vehicles can transmit data about traffic flow to ease traffic congestion, cutting down on idling cars and vehicle accidents.  

Trend #2: The Strengthening of the Cloud

With the cloud making significant strides in becoming a fixture in technology upgrades in recent years, it is expected to continue as municipalities shift away from on-premise solutions. The cloud has proven itself to be invaluable to municipalities thanks to its mobility, ease of use and cost effectiveness. Plus, as privacy and data security become increasingly important to municipalities as a result of natural disasters and cyber threats, a move to the cloud makes sense in the long-term.  

The pros of joining the cloud versus keeping an on-premise solution are many. They include:

  • Cost Savings: Maintenance and software upgrades are managed by a third-party vendor, not a department’s IT staff, freeing up resources to focus on higher priority tasks. Municipalities also don’t have to buy additional or new software when their needs change or population grows.
  • Flexibility: Moving to the cloud offers municipalities flexibility thanks to the ease of scaling up or down to meet changing needs of the community or surges in demand for services.
  • Efficiency: Moving to the cloud makes municipalities more efficient because it encourages mobility. Personnel are not tethered to a desktop, as they can access critical information from a smartphone or tablet.  

Trend #3: The Importance of Integration

With an emphasis on new smart city initiatives and the adoption of the cloud, it will become equally important for municipalities to prioritize the integration. All of these new tools and systems will have to work in cohesion with one another if the investments in new technology are to be considered successful. Without this strong cohesion, more tedious work, more confusion and more headaches could result.

The benefits of integration include:

  • Increased transparency: End-to-end visibility provides increased transparency into different processes, groups of data and shared services. This not only facilities interdepartmental collaboration, but also reduces duplication of efforts across the organization.
  • Agility: Integration provides easier access to critical information and services, allowing a municipality to adapt quickly to changes and new developments.

Predicting 2020

New and emerging technologies will be setting a rapid pace for 2020. Local government municipalities should prepare their communities for the impact these technologies will have by investing in the trends outlined above. Citizens want to live in safer, smarter communities, which means cities must be more technologically advanced than ever before. 2020 is the year local governments should seek to implement strategies to achieve this goal.