Do you remember the Wizard of Oz?
One of my favourite thoughts around the Wizard of Oz story was the illusion created by the all-mighty Wizard himself. He had a big, booming voice, made loud noises and used his grand persona to hide the truth – that he was really just a small man hiding behind a curtain.
Some municipal governments believe they are too small to be the Wizard of Oz, but today’s reality is that there are so many technology options available, they can make even the smallest of towns and cities seem comparable to the largest of them all. As more cloud-based technology options are presented, the little guys are looking bigger than ever. This means that you can compete with the big boys to win new businesses, attract more visitors and entice new residents.
Some of the shiniest towns and cities out there are affectionately called Intelligent Communities (close cousins to Smart Cities). They gain this distinction by simply ‘doing things better’ by integrating new technology. One of these initiatives is an innovation cohort in the U.S. called Small Cities, Big Ideas. Simply stated, the program makes it easier for small governments to pilot new technologies.
The innovation cohort makes it possible for municipalities to do small sample tests to see which technologies are best suited for their situation. In some places, a simple task like automating the way a water meter is read means there is no need to hire a meter reader to do a thankless task. In the innovation cohort, there is the ability to test several of the same types of technology side by side, (with a willing vendor that will do a pilot project), and decide the best one for your organization and situation. Some examples could include best ways to send out electronic bills to customers or make it easier for their citizens to book facilities or services online.
What does it all mean for municipalities?
It means that the municipal employees of the future will need to be more tech savvy than ever before. It also means
- that as the costs of developing technology continues to scale,
- bigger ticket technology purchases will continue to shrink as more and
- more data and systems will continue to be cloud-based
Additionally, it reveals that it will take some real wizardry to develop and embrace these new technologies in the municipal space. Like it or not, you’ll be joining the next wave of a technological revolution, and you won’t need a curtain to hide behind, even if you are in Kansas.
About the author
Paul Salvatore, CLGM is the VP of Member Relations of BoxOfDocs, a municipal software solution that municipalities use to find best practices as they craft new policies and approaches to do better work for their organizations and the people that they serve. His award-winning experience spans 20 years in government service delivery.