What are the trends that could prevail in the medium term in the digitalisation of local government? We’ve taken our crystal ball — and compiled the top 5 for you.
Trend 1: Automation
It doesn’t matter if it’s automatic notification of an impending need for a passport extension, or automatic payment of child benefit. Proactive services seem to be the future. Increasingly, administrations will be able to process and analyse citizen data and extract recommendations for action from it. In this way, the services offered can be tailored to the individual citizen, but it will also be possible to recognise trends: demographic developments, for example. All this requires intelligent management of large amounts of data — and thus the use of artificial intelligence or intelligent process automation.
Trend 2: Smart city solutions for lean management
To conserve resources. Who would be against that? Municipalities can save energy and above all act sustainably by controlling the lighting of car parks if necessary. Or by checking road salt consumption in snowy conditions. Street maintenance, green spaces or garbage collection — all these municipal services are increasingly supported by smart city and community solutions: sensors collect data and forward it to a central platform in the municipality. There they are evaluated and decisions are made on this basis. Specifically: if vehicles securing the streets in winter time digitally record the routes they have taken, duplicate journeys will be avoided. If sensors measure CO2 concentration, countermeasures can be taken quickly. And if a weak spot in the plumbing network is reported early, countermeasures can be taken before the damage becomes overwhelming. A curious side effect: The collected data can be made available to citizens if necessary, according to the principle of open data.
Trend 3: Cloud solutions
You save yourself the cost of keeping your own IT infrastructure up-to-date, you are protected against cyber-attacks and you have web access to software without installation. These are just some of the reasons why municipal administrations are increasingly deciding to outsource their IT systems to the cloud (Germany). As the increasing flow of data makes the management of municipal IT infrastructure more complex and risky, municipal authorities will turn to outsourcing offers. The provision of standardised online services by public authorities will be based on cloud technologies such as SaaS. In October 2021, Germany’s federal states demanded in a single written statement: ‘Modern public administration acts competently, quickly and accurately. It uses the latest technologies that facilitate the quick and easy analysis of available data to make the best possible decisions for citizens and uses appropriate high-end products for this. All this is not possible without cloud computing. We urgently need our own cloud for government needs with more secure supply chains.”
Trend 4: Open Source Software
Open source software is gaining popularity in Germany and Europe. In Germany, the federal government has also committed to the open source project. The hope: Less dependence on large IT companies, more digital sovereignty in Germany and Europe, faster innovation cycles, optimal reuse and greater compatibility with existing processes. Because open source solutions have open interfaces, data exchange is possible with less technical effort. The hope is that this will encourage competition between IT companies. To the benefit of local authorities — and to better serve citizens.
Trend 5: Digital twins
How is the winds of change shifting as new buildings are added to urban environments? How do we proceed with a bomb found in densely populated areas? How do you manage traffic flows to avoid congestion? Which buildings are inundated in a flood? Where do urban heat islands form and where is the greatest potential for solar energy harvesting? The answers to these questions are becoming increasingly important, especially in terms of climate protection and sustainable municipal development. For this, reliable forecasts are needed. And this is possible through accurate simulations. And so more and more digital twins of cities, but also of medium-sized municipalities, will be created to identify development potentials or assess hazards. The basis is 3D models of cities, through which decision-makers in municipalities will be able to carry out simulations and analyses.