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WGS highlights digital transformation being vital to addressing future cities’ challenges

19 January 2022


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As cities around the world are facing a range of new challenges, a recent report has highlighted factors that can help governments formulate resilient, agile plans for long-term growth.

The World Government Summit (WGS), in collaboration with KPMG Lower Gulf, recently published the report, "Future of Cities: Three Principles for Digital Transformation in Cities".

Launched to coincide with the Global Goals Week activities taking place at Expo 2020 Dubai, the report also evaluates how governments can prepare for future challenges by leveraging technology, according to a press release issued on Wednesday.

The global urban population is expected to increase by 68 percent by 2050, and continuing migration towards cities means their sizes are likely to double by 2070.

The World Economic Forum estimated that by 2040, the world is expected to face a US$15 trillion "infrastructure gap". Enhancing future readiness by accelerating digital transformation is imperative for "citizen- customers."

These principles comprise: adopting a mindset prioritising ‘citizen-customers’; establishing a foundation that enables ‘smart digitalisation’ through strong IT and cloud infrastructure, partnerships, focused leadership and continuous learning; and utilising ‘leapfrogging’ that enables acceleration of the development cycle via digitalisation and tech-enabled infrastructure.

The report also explores various initiatives, implemented by cities across ten countries that promote digital innovation and provide integrated community services for individuals.

It analyses how they were able to enhance their digital capabilities, as well as employ the latest technologies to achieve set goals, identify current needs and find corresponding innovative solutions.

For example, Dubai created an app designed to capture citizen-customer happiness data in a consolidated city dashboard. The goal was to allow private sector and government entities to evaluate citizen-customer experiences with live iterative data within industry sectors and geographic areas. It provided clear directions for service improvements.

Mohammed Yousef Al Sharhan, Deputy Managing Director of the World Government Summit Organisation, said, "WGS has established its position as a global platform for government knowledge in providing research and addressing future trends that enable officials and decision-makers to design new policies and develop plans that enhance the readiness of governments for the future."

He emphasised the importance of publishing the ‘Future of Cities’ report in conjunction with the Global Goals Week, adding that the report emphasises the need for strategic planning for governments seeking to leverage digitalisation to effectively solve their cities’ challenges and achieve the global goals.

Mazen Houalla, Partner, Head of Portfolio, Programme and Project Management, KPMG Lower Gulf, said, "Using examples of successful practices from around the world, our report provides practical solutions for city leaders, public administrators, and municipal stakeholders on how to build resiliency into their planning and how to prepare for – and meet – future challenges using technology.

"Cities can move to smart digitalisation by adopting rigorous analyses of tech solutions. Digitalisation, done ‘smartly’, can now be applied more quickly and more cost effectively than in the past."

The report underscores the importance of rapid decision-making, setting priorities, and fostering city identities, by potentially adopting three types of "vision". These include aspirational goals with long-term targets, focused ones directed towards specific, medium-term targets, and those that prioritise core functions in the short-term.

Another of the report’s recommendations is that cities would do well to embrace sustainability. Guiding their strategy should be the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), one of which is, "Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable."

For example, United for Smart Sustainable Cities (U4SSC) is a UN programme initiated by United Cities in 2016 by 17 UN entities. United Cities and the SDG Impact Fund established the United Cities Fund (UCF) to help cities with data management and reporting, digital solutions, finance, and capacity-building.

The first national U4SSC Implementation Programme was set up in Norway, a five-year scheme to support cities and stakeholders in the transition to smart, sustainable development.

This report is one of a series being released by the WGS Organisation, which recently announced the signing of eight new knowledge partnerships with a selection of the most prominent consulting companies and specialised global research institutions in the world.

The aim is to spearhead scientific reports and studies to address the world’s most pressing challenges, while analysing trends and identifying opportunities to enhance governments’ readiness for the future.

To view the "Future of Cities: Principles for Digital Transformation in Cities" report, please visit the following link:
https://www.worldgovernmentsummit.org/observer/reports/2022/detail/principles-for-digital.

WAM/Binsal AbdulKader/Amjad Saleh

Source: WAM