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May 10, 2017
Building tomorrow's Digital city hall
By: Simon Giles

Cities are the engines of economic growth, innovation and the crucibles of social change. As the digital technologies become more prevalent, cities need to make sure that what and how they deliver matches citizens’ rising expectations.

But cities have also seen significant changes to their role as provider of services to keep the city functioning and prospering. They are no longer solely responsible for end-to-end delivery of the services that citizens and businesses expect. Instead, they are coordinating a complex web of other providers (public agencies and the private sector contracts) and allocating resources to services that benefit citizens and businesses. The existing model that cities have worked with over the years is no longer fit for purpose given this new role.

A new approach is needed, to look at familiar problems with a fresh perspective and develop new solutions. The change in service delivery strategy demands a new operating model, that is smarter, digitally-driven and designed to support the new capabilities that the city hall of the 21st Century must possess.

To help cities achieve that, we have created a framework that draws on our experience of working with more than 80 cities around the world (Read more here). The framework embraces a number of key principles:

  • Simplicity – making interactions between citizen and city more intuitive and cost effective, echoing the near frictionless experience that they receive from other digital services

  • Integration –a cohesive and joined up view of infrastructure and assets

  • Common data –shared across different service providers so that services can be built around citizens’ needs, and prevent the repeated reinvention of the wheel and eliminate costly duplication

  • Evidence-based- with performance feedback loops that enable cities to learn from what works (and what doesn’t) and keep improving

These principles inform the development of a new city operating model, with the people, processes, technology and culture that city leaders will need to transform and deliver services to citizens and businesses.

Accenture High Performing City Operating Model

Of course, no two cities are identical. Each has its own distinct character and aspirations. That is why the model is inherently flexible and reflects global variation in how different cities choose to retain operational control of some services or work with partners to deliver others.

By enabling all providers to plug into the same model, it is possible to foster cross-agency collaboration and gain a clear and thorough understanding of performance. It also positions the city to more effectively identify opportunities for improvement and establish where building new skills and developing the workforce will have the greatest impact.

It is an approach that is already bearing fruit for cities such as, New York where the model was applied to identify and implement the tools, processes and organisational structure that will help meet New Yorkers’ rising expectations.

One operating model brings a city’s many moving parts together, enables information to be shared consistently between different functions and helps align a single sense of purpose and strategic direction. And while the ultimate aim of a new operating model is transformation, not every city has to start at that scale to start reaping the benefits. Focusing on a single department or even process can be a great place to start. Testing and trialling new approaches with an agile, ‘fail fast’ mind set means lessons from one initiative can be applied and scaled to other areas.

Knowing where to start is less important than simply getting started. The challenges and opportunities facing all cities as they progress in an increasingly digital and dynamic global economy demand new responses. Maintaining the status quo is not an option.

You can read the full point of view on our High Performing City Operating Model here.

To learn more about building the smart cities of tomorrow visit us here, and follow me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

See this post on LinkedIn: Building Tomorrow's Digital City Hall


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