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U.S.: Tech and the City - New York's Future
Source: informationweek.com
Source Date: Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Focus: Electronic and Mobile Government, ICT for MDGs
Country: United States
Created: Dec 17, 2012

How could better IT planning and implementation help New York and other cities of the future? Check out this snapshot of the results of our survey of 198 IT pros in municipal government.

New Yorkers are living three years longer than they did a decade ago, Mayor Michael Bloomberg revealed Tuesday. Going forward, New Yorkers could enjoy better quality of life as well, if City Hall pursues technology policies geared to urban transformation.

That's one conclusion to be drawn from a new survey by InformationWeek on "future cities," the technology-enabled urban centers of tomorrow. The survey, completed in October by 198 IT pros in municipal government, gauged the potential benefits of effective IT planning and implementation by city governments. Thirty-six percent of survey respondents cited "better quality of life" as a potential outcome of such initiatives.

New York serves as good example of the challenges faced in future cities planning. The city's subways, roads, water system, and other infrastructure are more than a century old in places, and some communications networks and systems go back to the early days of the Bell Telephone system.

The Bloomberg administration has been investing in a gradual transformation of those old systems. The city has introduced new public services, including Wi-Fi in subways and parks and, recently, a citywide surveillance system for crime prevention and security. Last week, city officials launched a competition to "reinvent the payphone," an icon of city life that has been rendered obsolete by the smartphone. They're calling on urban designers, technologists and policy experts to come up with ideas to transform the payphone into a modern, services-oriented communications hub.

While slightly more than half of respondents to the InformationWeek survey report some progress with their Future Cities efforts, hospitals and other healthcare systems are not at the top of their priority lists. Only 11% say hospitals are an area of initial focus. The top three areas of Future Cities activity are government operations, public safety and communications infrastructure.

New York officials attributed the increase in life expectancy (to 80.9 years) for city residents to programs aimed at smoking prevention and HIV testing. "These statistics show that New York City is increasingly a healthy place in which to live, work and raise a family," said Health Commissioner Thomas Farley.

Effective municipal IT investment and implementation have the potential to benefit the public and local businesses in New York and other cities in a variety of ways. They include more efficient public services, cited by 66% of survey respondents, and improved municipal infrastructure, mentioned by 44%. There are also these hopeful outcomes: 14% of survey respondents see improved traffic flow as a potential benefit, and 13% envision a lower crime rate.

(By John Foley)
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