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Building cities for the digital citizen

In this Technology Vision 2014 report, learn how cities and digital government can better serve their citizens by adopting a human-centered design approach.


While cities have been catching up and investing in new technology, we believe the focus has been geared too much towards the technology products and solutions, and not enough on the end users – the citizens, local entrepreneurs, city workers, tourists and other parts of the community.

We believe that cities and digital government need to adopt a more human-centered design approach in order to better serve their citizens, and enable more agile and responsive city institutions - delivering public service for the future.

This report takes a closer look at four of the six trends identified in the Accenture Technology Vision 2014, to understand how they are affecting cities and their citizens. For each of the trends highlighted in this report, we provide an illustrative example from people in leading cities around the world, before explaining how the technology actually works, and profiling the specific technology trend underpinning this particular shift.


Digital-Physical Blur

The physical and digital worlds are becoming increasingly intertwined as the emergence of smart objects, devices and machines gives us greater awareness and control over our environment. This trend is readily apparent in cities, where embedded sensors are helping city workers monitor performance, establishing real-time connections to the physical world, allowing them to react faster and more intelligently to changing circumstances.

From Workforce to Crowdsource

Cloud, social and other collaboration technologies are allowing cities to tap into vast pools of human resource, by reaching out to people who are motivated to solve community problems. Known as crowdsourcing, this phenomenon provides cities with access to new ideas, an expanded and cost-effective workforce, and a wide range of skillsets. Often, this workforce can be put into action at little or no cost, as it consists of citizens who are passionate about helping to improve the areas where they live.

Data Supply Chain

The technology to collect and analyze large amounts of data is becoming ever more sophisticated, generating a stream of new innovation opportunities for those able to harness it. Many cities however, are yet to realize the true value of their data. One of the main problems is that most city governments – similar to a lot of large private enterprises – hold data in many different formats across a range of individual departments, creating a set of data silos. This makes the data difficult to access and therefore hard to extract value from.

Business of Applications

The way we build software is changing. Mimicking the shift in the consumer world, organizations are rapidly moving from enterprise applications – big, complex software systems – to simpler, more modular, and more customized apps. Modern citizens expect to be able to interact with organizations, including digital government through digital technology and apps. And city employees are looking for consumer-grade experiences too. They want user-friendly systems that enable them to be productive anytime and anywhere.


Cities are evolving quickly as they battle for investment and talent in a global economy that is reorienting itself around digital. New technologies are changing the way that private and public organizations interact with consumers and citizens. The key for cities is to understand that people must be at the heart of this change, and that their digital future must be built upon this cornerstone. By following the steps outlined in this paper, city leaders can prepare their cities for the digital age - delivering public service for the future.

Building the foundation
Rather than continuing efforts in the same way as the last 10 years, plan for the future by building a scalable technical infrastructure and an organizational structure that lends itself to a digital future, including freeing up digital resources to citizens.

Innovate and adapt
Improve analytical abilities to support new modes of stakeholder engagement and personalized service delivery that offer citizens seamless user experiences.

Lead as a model digital city
The outstanding cities of the future will harness digital technology to improve engagement between stakeholders and city leaders, to manage their assets in a smarter way, and to create further innovative solutions to improve the lives of citizens.

Find out recommendations for each trend highlighted in this report by downloading the pdf.