In a new data decade, constituent experience reigns
Over the years, humans have predicted fantastical feats would be achieved by 2020, from robot servants to public space travel. Now that 2020 is here, some of the accomplishments are different—but still grand. In the decade ahead, transformational technologies that better meet constituent needs will define the missions of local government leaders. Advancements in 5G, artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT) and multi-cloud operations will expand community experiences and digital government possibilities.
It’s a new era for data: a time to catalyze streamlined IT, flexible consumption and operations, multi-cloud options and an evolution of the network edge. Sustainable innovation and modernization will bolster how we live, work and play. As CIOs and IT leaders prepare their departments for new ways to serve their constituents, here are the biggest technology changes that are impacting them—and important considerations for each.
Multi-cloud strategy evolves
The importance of cloud strategy is reflected in the Public Technology Institute’s City and County Technology and Workforce Trends survey, which reflects that cloud services remain a top technology priority for government CIOs over the next two years. But when it comes to the understanding of cloud and its value, IT leaders are in a much different place now than they were five years ago. They have come to realize that cloud is not a destination but rather an operating model.
As local government cloud strategies mature, a multi-cloud approach that encompasses a combination of solutions hosted on premises, in public clouds and at the edge will become more critical. Considering a multi-cloud strategy offers increased security, as well as greater flexibility, transparency and scalability.
To make the most effective cloud investments, local governments should plan ahead and think about their IT infrastructure holistically. Leaders should consider the various workloads they manage and keep their constituents—and the services made available to them—at the forefront of decision-making. For example, a workload that deals with a resident’s personally identifiable information will require heightened security; an application designed to share traffic information with the public has fewer security concerns, but requires a high level of scalability. To move forward with their cloud strategy, local-government IT leaders need the ability to plan on a workload-by-workload basis. This requires the flexibility of multi-cloud.
5G becomes mainstream
This year, 5G will go mainstream for cities across the country. The next-gen network is not simply an evolution of 4G; it requires massive transformation, demanding new distributed architectures using software-defined infrastructure.
High-speed connectivity will lay the groundwork for “always-on,” interconnected services that define smart cities. But local governments are still searching for answers to learn how 5G will apply to their specific departments and constituents.
Getting started with 5G will require a dedicated effort to support advancements in IoT technologies. More devices and sensors will accelerate transmission of data. A report released in November 2019 by the World Economic Forum shows that the impact of 5G cuts across markets, opening the door to capabilities such as self-driving cars and automated drones for public sector organizations. From health care to energy, transportation to public safety and local communities to businesses large and small, the high-speed network involves innovative IoT applications.
Deploying 5G will also bring a viable, more affordable high-speed connection to many citizens for the first time, bridging an economic divide in accessibility and resources. Cities like San Jose are already making strides in this goal, recently launching a Digital Inclusion Fund to ensure the deployment of 5G touches every community. With broad implementation of 5G, less affluent neighborhoods in cities across the country will stand on a more level playing field.
More cities will benefit from deep learning and AI
5G enables higher volumes and faster transmission of data, promising new use cases for digital communities. First, innovation within deep learning and analytics will transform transportation initiatives. Think of cameras and sensors with the ability to count cars, bicycles and pedestrians to improve traffic flow and safety on city streets.
For example, the City of Las Vegas recently implemented a new IoT framework that employs edge analytics to decrease traffic accidents and facilitate more-efficient emergency response services. This technology, leveraging an expanding 5G network, will allow the city to deploy sensors in more locations and amplify the city’s ability to transmit relevant traffic data quickly and more securely.
AI will continue to transform public safety capabilities. Cities will also continue to leverage automation to build more-accurate models of traffic patterns, leading to a safer and more-efficient world. Incidents will be easier to map and predict, helping residents get out of harm’s way. Even everyday interactions with government can be supplemented by AI such as chatbots and personal assistant devices, making government departments more effective and citizen interactions more efficient.
The technologies that help local governments behind the scenes, and the leaders at the forefront of IT strategy, are at the core of mission success. As we launch into the next data decade, municipalities will continue to transform the ways communities engage services and interact with their government.
Through digital transformation initiatives, municipal and county leaders can take advantage of the rollout of 5G to bring new levels of high-speed connectivity and institute digital inclusion in cities. AI will help leaders make sense of the wealth of data at their fingertips for better decision-making and citizen safety. Multi-cloud strategies will optimize how we store and access information for greater efficiency, cost savings, and capability. Take advantage of these now to mold the community’s digital future—but keep constituent experiences as the guiding factor in the new data decade.
Rob Silverberg is CTO, Digital Communities at Dell Technologies.