Experts: Smart City Work Should Stay the Course Amid Crisis

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The novel coronavirus pandemic will test cities long after it dissipates — especially where revenue is concerned. But for now, officials must choose between advancing efficiency and maintaining the status quo.

The smart city and sustainability projects that make communities more efficient and resilient are more necessary than ever, advocates argue, but other priorities are competing for the limited resources that could move them forward.

A number of cities are faced with not only new demands for services but also nearly unthinkable falloffs in revenue collections as the coronavirus pandemic has forced much of the nation into a second month of lockdowns. On Wednesday, the U.S. Commerce Department reported the gross domestic product (GDP) contracted 4.8 percent in the first quarter of 2020, the worst decline since the Great Recession in 2008.

The overall situation has put local and regional governments in a tight spot, forcing officials to choose between innovation and maintaining the status quo.

gradient-quote There’s a real tension and tradeoff between allocating resources to address the immediate needs that come with a crisis — like protective gear, testing or sheltering in place — and the investment needed to build a more resilient infrastructure. Cities are on the front lines of managing that tension. gradient-quote-right
Tripp Borstel, Head of Transformation Design at ENGIE Impact

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