Cities, technology, the next generation of urban development, and the next administration, Part 2
[Commentary] The federal government should focus on how cities are likely to be the primary government jurisdictions on the leading edge of using new technology to transform the public sphere. The fall campaign should set an agenda for how the next administration can move the country forward by helping the cities that want to lead in this century’s city-led, global information economy. Some might argue that how cities use technology should not be a subject of a presidential election but rather be left to local campaigns. This argument is wrong for a number of reasons, including that the economic and social health of cities is the leading driver of the economic and social health of the nation. American leadership in many sectors requires world-class cities in which to work and live.
Further, cities face a subtle economic barrier to adoption of new technologies. The history of technology cost curves predicts these investments will eventually pay for themselves in service improvements. Cities, however, unlike businesses, have a limited first-user advantage for such new infrastructure, making it more difficult to obtain the critical mass of users that lowers costs in ways that accelerate adoption. If wealthier communities like Austin (TX) can figure out how to use technology to improve how it delivers education, health, transportation, and social services, those practices can be adopted by lower-income communities like Detroit (MI). The federal government has a vital interest in accelerating the improvement of municipal public services by all cities. The best way to drive such improvements is to seed early efforts that provide replicable examples.
[Levin is a nonresident senior fellow with the Metropolitan Policy Program. This is the second in a series of three blogs on cities, technology, the next generation of urban development, and the next administration.]
Cities, technology, the next generation of urban development, and the next administration, Part 2 Cities, technology, the next generation of urban development, and the next Administration, part 1 (Part 1)