The past 25 years have brought a digital age, massive computing power, highspeed data access and mobile communication. More recently, we have seen the emergence of the cloud, bringing communication and information technologies together in a new, emerging ICT industry. Over the next 25 years, advances in technology and infrastructure performance will continue to change our world. ICT has the potential to help us meet some of our great societal challenges. We call this new emerging society – of which we have so far only seen the beginning – the Networked Society.
Assessing the effects and benefits of ICT maturity within a city framework brings several opportunities. Firstly, cities represent a more universally comparable context than the more commonly used nation- based frameworks. Comparing London and Shanghai makes more sense than comparing the UK and China. A city focus therefore provides opportunities for faster understanding and global best-practice sharing. Secondly, cities are already home to more than half the world’s population, with more than 50 percent of global GDP generated in the largest 600 cities. Trends suggest that more than 60 percent of all people will live in cities by 2030. Consequently cities will increasingly require effective ICT strategies to be implemented across a multitude of stakeholders in order to meet the needs of social, economic and environmental development. Finally, the city index framework provides city mayors, local authorities and decision-makers with a tool to measure and analyze their cities’ ICT maturity, as well as the triple-bottom-line results of their ICT investments.
The index itself covers two main dimensions. The first shows a city-centric view of ICT maturity in the cities studied. This aspect represents investments made in ICT and captures availability, performance and usage levels for ICT. Momentum in this direction is typically set by the ICT investment climate and direct economic output. The second dimension of the index shows a benefit-oriented view across all three parts of the triple bottom line. This represents the benefits in terms of city attractiveness, in aspects such as healthcare, education, economic output, city efficiency and environmental performance.
As maturity has increased, the stronger cities have gradually applied a more focused approach by targeting dedicated application areas such as health, education or intelligent traffic.
There is a strong connection between ICT maturity in cities and their triplebottom-
line development (as defined in the Networked Society City Index).
Return on investments in ICT, in terms of benefits to society, follows increased
Cities at different stages of ICT maturity should apply different strategies in
order to maximize ICT-driven advancement.
* High-scoring cities such as Singapore, Stockholm, Seoul, London and Paris
can gain traction by exploiting ICT to fulfill the overall city vision, achieve
targets within social, economic and environmental dimensions, and capitalize
on ICT to spur innovation and citizen involvement in city development.
* Medium-scoring cities such as Beijing, Sydney, Moscow, Buenos Aires and
São Paulo ought to cherry-pick key city challenges that can be addressed with
ICT-based solutions, and launch and coordinate focused initiatives.
* Low-scoring cities such as Manila, Johannesburg, Dhaka, Karachi and Lagos
can make progress by addressing the digital gap through digital access
initiatives, ICT literacy training for the underprivileged, and ensuring the
integration of ICT into public administration to improve efficiency.
* For every 10 percentage points increase in broadband penetration the isolated
economic effect on GDP growth is around 1% of GDP
* For every 1000 additional broadband users, roughly 80 new jobs are created
* Studies on government efficiency conclude that significant savings are made by
transforming offline governmental services into on-line services
This would seem to justify fiber to the home and wireless broadband expansion. Keeping pace with the leading efforts in South Korea
Increased energy efficiency
– E.g. Smart grid development for improved energy efficiency
and consumer awareness
Reduced greenhouse gas emissions, pollutants and traffic congestion
– E.g.intelligent traffic systems for congestion reduction
– Improved possibilities for telecommuting
* Improved pupil attainment and educational performance
* Increased political participation
* Increased social interaction and communication
* Improved health (e.g. reduced infant mortality in developing countries) transforming offline governmental services into on-line services
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.