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The Digital Transformation of Our Cities and Towns

Digital transformation of municipal services presents a wealth of opportunity for cities and towns of all sizes. And if done correctly, residents, visitors and employees will see tangible benefits.

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Digital transformation of municipal services presents a wealth of opportunity for cities and towns of all sizes. And if done correctly, residents, visitors and employees will see tangible benefits.

When examining the effect digital transformation has had on the world around us, people need look no further than the cities and towns in which they live and work. As with nearly every industry in the country today, state-of-the-art technology is transforming American municipalities 

These innovations are manifesting across many areas and we can expect them to continue advancing as time moves on. To build on the old adage: time stops for no one, and technology seldom slows down. 

Digital transformation enables municipalities to serve both residents and visitors more effectively, streamlining operations and the availability of information, which in turn should lead to more taxpayer savings. This speaks directly to the foremost question on the minds of municipal leaders—how can technological advancement allow us to run better while reducing costs? 

Digital transformation and the Internet of Things are changing the way towns approach transportation. Using artificial intelligence to process camera and sensor information helps municipalities learn more about real-time changes to traffic patterns and public transportation utilization. It goes without saying that few things are more important to city and town residents than the ability to get from Point A to Point B as seamlessly as possible. Municipal governments recognize this and are helping bring relief to citizens through real-time travel updates, usage trend analytics, smart traffic lights, and an integrated traffic incident system. 

The same applies to parking, trash collection, and recycling services. Through use of sensors connected to the Internet of Things, people can now find lower cost parking spacesand when they become available. This also helps with traffic management. If cities want to prevent event-related gridlock, they can encourage users to choose more plentiful, lower-cost parking, possibly even changing the parking rates in certain areas to make them attractive or unattractive options for drivers. Smart technologies applied to trash collection allow public works teams to identify when receptacles need emptying, rather than estimating the way they did in the past. This cuts down on collection runs, fuel usage and congestion, all thanks to municipalities having the foresight to ask the question, “How can we do this better?” 

Public safety is being greatly transformed as well. Emergency technology in the field has become more enhanced, with first responders able to compile relevant digital information about an incident from multiple sources before they even arrive. In cities such as Hartford and New Haven, ShotSpotter technology is used by police to identify, report, and examine possible gunshots before 911 is called, helping make communities safer for residentsOther citizen services have improved as well, via the introduction of apps that allow people to easily report and receive notifications about nearby incidents, which also helps first responders with case management. 

The boom in utilization of blockchain technology—a secure, reliable, and encrypted digital ledger for record-keeping and transactions of any kindis improving a variety of municipal services. Public records can now be kept and maintained with much greater security. Social services agencies are using blockchain to help provide services to those who need them. There is even talk of using blockchain to audit elections and provide confirmation that all votes are counted and recorded correctly. 

Digital transformation of municipal services presents a wealth of opportunity for cities and towns of all sizes. And if done correctly, residents, visitors and employees will see tangible benefits. 

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