Report: Local Governments Turning to Digital Transformation to Combat Climate Change update from May 2023

Four out of five organizations have some sort of sustainability goal, with more than two-thirds saying digitization will play a key role in meeting it.

"climate" written on a beach

The push toward digital transformation in local government is synonymous with the rising needs brought on by climate change. Beyond convenience, streamlining efficiencies through automation and artificial intelligence is a step element that, increasingly, administrators and public officials are ensuring their organizations take.

A national survey of 100 state and local government leaders by the Center for Digital Government shows that most agencies have already digitized their systems to improve safety, efficiency, and resilience within their physical operations—and more investments are planned. More than half of respondents said they intended "to further upgrade operational technologies in the next three years," according to the report, "Government Agencies are Transforming Physical Operations to Gain Efficiency and Resilience," which was published in collaboration with the tech company Samsara.

Related: An Enterprise Guide to Digital Transformation

"AI and automation are top of mind: Nearly half (49%) are currently implementing or planning to implement by 2025. These technology investments will drive workforce enablement and productivity: As the demands of the workforce evolve, respondents cite a need to invest in communication and collaboration tools (52%), mobile devices or apps to support remote work (48%), and expanded access to data and analytics (43%)," reads a brief from Samsara about the findings.

Broadly, the increase in technology adoption correlates to rising extreme weather events and the emerging climate crisis. Eighty-four percent of those surveyed noted their organization has some sort of sustainability goal, and 67% said digitization will play a key role in meeting it. The report notes that connected infrastructure and systems are more resilient during a natural disaster, and when supply chains are disrupted. And as communities try to better understand what the future will look like, data is playing a more important role than ever in just about every aspect of local government—the only way to collect this information is through technology.

About half of respondents cited climate change as a primary reason for technological investment, which includes electric fleets and the elimination of paper waste via digitized records systems.

Constituent concerns about energy efficiency and a desire to decrease their community’s environmental impact is also pushing tech adoption forward (cited by 39% of respondents), along with expectations for improved reliability (66%) and the ability to provide real-time updates (55%).

Read the rest of this article on American City & County.

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