Just about every local government resource we see today mentions the idealistic “smart city” (a city that finds the right balance of technology and governance) and why it’s important. Unfortunately, as urbanization has been on the rise, many smaller local governments have fallen behind both in efficiency and technological progress. The Route Fifty article “Is Good Government Beyond the Reach of Small Government?” addresses the technological issue, noting that some governments have neither the budget nor staffing to migrate to digital mediums, and certain communities, especially rural governments, have limited broadband ability. This “digital divide” frequently discourages millennials from participating in local government-related activities.
The pressure is on small local governments to “go digital” and, fortunately, the marketplace is responding. For example, iCompass has developed a new, free software program for local governments called AgendaFree, which streamlines much of the time-consuming processes associated with preparing and distributing agendas. By eliminating this one stumbling block, the program significantly reduces the amount of effort exerted by administrative officials, cuts paper usage by 85 percent, and decreases time spent making calls seeking information and clarification. Technology improvements of this sort are expected to help communities engage citizens of all ages in the public policy agenda.
If you’re interested in learning more about bridging the digital divide and becoming a smarter city, these Knowledge Network resources below may be helpful:
- The June issue of ICMA’s PM Public Management magazine featured an article about improving digital literacy in senior citizens.
- This case study on the city of Boerne, Texas, and its technological initiatives was nominated for ICMA’s Annual Awards Program in 2012.
- In this Knowledge Network article, see how the city of Madison, Wisconsin, addresses the digital divide by providing young people in the community with technological education resources.
How is your community working to bridge the digital divide? Share your comments below.
Knowledge Network Intern