Do You Live in Stressville or Digitopolis?

May 28, 2015 4:00 pm PST | Effective Governing, Open Data

In Government Technology’s recent article, Closing America’s Good Government Divide, Paul Blanchet, the VP of Customer Success and Operations at iCompass Technologies, tells a tale of two very different cities emerging in modern America. The Good Government Divide — a wide gulf between the “haves” (Digitopolis) and the “have-nots” (Stressville) in resources, funds, and technology — is more prominent than ever.

Sound familiar? He explains, “The Good Government Divide has nothing to do with intentions — the elected officials and staff members in both Digitopolis and Stressville want to govern well on behalf of their citizens. Instead, the divide has to do with resources.” Many governments feel the pain of limited finances.

Digitopolis

Digitopolis is a large urban city with daily operations enabled by technology and open data exemplified by cities like Boston, Massachusetts and Redmond, Washington. According to Blanchet, these cities have “the core belief that technology is a crucial asset and a critical new way for government to address a host of pressing issues, including citizen participation, transparency and operational efficiency.” These cities have prompted a fundamental shift by making data a highest priority, conducting their research, and investing time in data-driven initiatives.

Additionally, these cities have “invested in next-generation technology infrastructure that encompasses cloud data management systems, open data platforms, mobile applications, predictive analysis models and consumer-friendly visualization techniques.”

Stressville

You may have visited Stressville before —  a small and resource-constrained city operating daily operations through manual processes.  Stressville has, “a handful of employees working in city hall; it has no IT department or budget and it still uses manual processes to manage many day-to-day functions.” Employees are working hard and are doing many different jobs that could be streamlined by technology, but there’s a belief that, “they don’t have the budgets to harness state-of-the-art technology that would foster greater and much-needed efficiency and transparency for residents.”

Solutions

The conundrum is that what these governments view as a large financial investment is the very thing that will ultimately save them money and effort. In the article, Blanchet references three case studies, “that reveal the significant financial benefits that kick in when governments adopt new cloud-based technology initiatives. A recent McKinsey analysis – indicates capturing the full potential of government digitization around the world could free up to $1 trillion annually in economic value through improved cost and operational performance.”

Blanchet recognizes that implementing these solutions are worthwhile, but still a challenge. He is “not suggesting small- and medium-sized governments like Stressville can just implement cloud-based software solutions and expect to save millions of dollars a year.” What he does suggest is that the the vast differences between these data adoption scenarios are still very apparent around the country, and that “too many rural cities are missing out on the upside benefits of the efficiency-driven technology revolution” and its unparalleled return on investment for their organization and their citizens.

Tweet us your cities Digitopolis or Stressville stories at @Socrata.


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May 28, 2015