Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Predictions for the Not-So-Distant Future of Tech and Cities

We sat down earlier this year with LMC’s new chief information officer, Melissa “Mel” Reeder to get her big-picture predictions for the not-so-distant future of tech and cities. We had a few “huh?” moments, but Mel is a pretty down-to-earth talker and was happy to translate her tech-speak into the following visions of what could lie ahead. Prepare to be inspired: 

Prediction 1

Open data: Cities will branch out into the role of providing the public a platform to access and mine public data. By thoughtfully structuring data in a standardized way, cities can make large sets of information usable and relevant to users. This allows users the freedom and flexibility to reference the data for their own creative applications—and could get cities out of the app-making business (doesn’t that sound nice?). In addition, centralized data will allow for more de-siloing of information and activity. When geographic data “borders” disappear, cross-jurisdiction collaboration follows.

Prediction 2
Personalization: Cities will continue providing more personalized services, allowing residents to register or opt-in to receiving tailored information, whether it’s about traffic or the hours of a neighborhood park. More and more, citizens will receive convenient texts or email notices when they need to renew a permit or pay a traffic ticket. Using pictures as well as text, public employees will be able to respond directly to requests, telling citizens when and how they resolved their issues. How’s that for service?

Prediction 3
Predictive analytics (Wait! Wait! Don’t glaze over yet!): By layering different types of seemingly unrelated data to see how different systems may be interacting, cities can address these intersections before they turn into big problems or missed chances. Example: comparing data from apps that crowd-source popular running routes to your city’s plans for where to locate trail amenities or zoning for pedestrian-friendly commercial. These “preemptive interventions” could be in any department or combo of departments’ purviews—infrastructure, public health, public safety, you name it. By better pairing intervention with need, these analytics will create new efficiencies in many city services.

Bonus prediction: Mel is fascinated by “Hyperloop” technology—individual transport capsules capable of traveling up to 800 miles an hour by magnet, which could theoretically allow you to get from the tippy top of the state to the southern border of Minnesota in about 45 minutes. Hey, a CIO can dream.


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