How Tech Can Help Lead Cities Back to Recovery
The shift to remote work in many cities has scrambled investment priorities. Compared with the beginning of the year, mayors have significantly accelerated many of their priorities around improving city services and economic development, with 90 percent of respondents saying that they are expanding the delivery of virtual or online city services.
According to the survey, the vast majority of mayors (84 percent) think that as residents continue to work remotely, it is more important to dedicate financial resources to technologies such as 5G wireless networks and universal Wi-Fi rather than to commercial buildings.
However, the survey also found that 9 in 10 mayors agree that “investment in technology to reimagine, rework, change, or adapt how commercial buildings are being used is necessary for the future of their city (97 percent) and that investment in buildings/facilities is still necessary for their city despite some tasks being conducted online during the COVID-19 pandemic (94 percent).”
Notably, 89 percent of respondents say that cities need to implement smart technologies “to help employees return to work with confidence.” Those include technologies that “connect systems and buildings to enable automated energy distribution, contactless body temperature measurement, improved air quality, bacteria reduction via ultraviolet technology or occupancy density monitoring for safe distancing,” the report found.
“Mayors know that few things can revitalize an economy and a city like investments in modern infrastructure and technology,” USCM President and Louisville, Ky., Mayor Greg Fischer said in a statement.
According to the survey, 60 percent say their city is “accelerating the implementation of smart technologies to help them quickly respond and advance healthy and safe workplaces.”
However, 89 percent say their city needs federal resources to put in place smart technologies to the degree needed to recover from the pandemic. The report also notably finds that while these initiatives may be accelerated, “actual implementation is still fairly low.”
A majority of mayors (56 percent) say they are interested in implementing sensor technologies for social distancing, the report finds, “though many who express interest are unsure when they could implement it (48 percent).”
Interestingly, all mayors report that corporations will have a role to play in helping to rebuild or revitalize their city’s economy. They see their role as supporting capital investments (69 percent), startup and small business funding/incubators (61 percent) and job training (56 percent).