Key categories of digital city services
This section reviews the different kinds of city services to give you a sense of the possible. In general, these applications automate service delivery and transactions. Many of them also push essential information to individuals so they can make better decisions and better use of city assets.
Before you rush off to implement one or more of these great ideas, be sure to skim the best practices section below. And be sure to review the chapter on Foundational Principles for a Successful Smart City.
Although some of these categories are primarily for the use of city employees, we include them here. First, providing electronic tools for employees is one important aspect of efficient e-government. Second, employee apps increasingly include ways for citizens to provide input (e.g. report graffiti) or to get updates (e.g. to notify them that the graffiti has been removed).
For a more exhaustive list of city services, European cities may want to consult the ESD Toolkit, which attempts to document the full range of services – digital or otherwise – offered by European cities.
Asset health and management. Provide workers the tools to monitor and repair assets such as pumps, transformers, roadways and buildings. Remotely monitor conditions to spot problems as soon as they occur. Use analytics to predict which assets are most likely to have issues next. Show locations on a map, including the locations of nearby repair crews. Even optimize the use of fleet vehicles, using software to determine how many vehicles are needed, where they need to be, and which route to take to minimize the traffic congestion.
Often interfaces with issue reporting, with mobile workforce management and with citizen relationship management.
Customer relationship management. A central repository to track and assist with citizen interactions. Some CRM software relates only to one aspect of the city-citizen relationship (as with the issue reporting and case management solutions described separately below). But full-scale CRM tracks and manages all aspects of all relationships, whether with citizens, employees, partners or suppliers. Ideally, those people can speak to a city service rep who can see their full record and guide them to a resolution.
As of 2016, 90% of U.S cities and 70% of U.S. counties were using or planning to use CRM, according to the Digital Cities Survey.
Since CRM is intended as a central storehouse for interactions, it is integrated with many other applications, including city call centers, online portals, asset management software, contracts management, payments and mobile workforce management. In other cases, those applications are built into the CRM. Done right, CRM can transform how cities operate by enabling (and enforcing) collaboration between departments.
Advanced versions often include features such as a unified city portal; analytics to spot trends and emerging problems; and a knowledgebase that city employees can use to find answers.