The digital revolution is creating a hyperconnected society in an urban environment subject to economic and social influences. Within this context, Small and Medium Cities (PMC) face the greatest challenges to transform their development patterns and break with traditional models, creating ways of living and developing in the digital age.
A report published by the World Economic Forum based on research carried out in China, Japan, Brazil and Singapore proposes a reference model for digital transformation in PMCs.
According to the report, the main challenges for digital transformation are centered on the lack of talent; in insufficient funds and resources; lack of understanding of the application of digital technology; and in the incipient mechanisms of inter-municipal cooperation and interaction.
Digital transformation requires the correct perception of these challenges and the differences between PMCs and large metropolises.
To facilitate this understanding, it is proposed to divide the PMCs into seven functional areas: public sector and social services; industry and economy; governance; environment and carbon emissions; government effectiveness; infrastructure; and development guarantee.
In each of these areas, a specific proposal for digital transformation must be conceived and implemented. However, it must be structured in a model that integrates all functional areas in the digital field.
In assessing the differences between PMCs and large metropolises, it is important to consider that the departure of young people in search of opportunities in other regions causes the general aging of the population in the areas left behind and, thus, the acceptance of digital services is more difficult. .
In large cities, travel is more expensive and takes longer. Hence, residents are more inclined to use online services, while PMC residents are more inclined to visit a bank in person, for example. Furthermore, since young people tend to have a more natural mastery of digital technologies, technology-based business models thrive in large cities.
On the other hand, it is necessary to note that the digital transformation of PMCs differs from large cities in terms of the existing digital infrastructure, the complexity of urban governance, the focus of public services and the ways in which the information infrastructure is built and implemented. . These factors are extremely important in planning the actions to be developed.
Therefore, PMCs must adopt flexible urban digital technologies and resilient digital transformation models, because cities vary greatly in their resource endowments, development paths and goals.
They should also explore public-private partnerships in business models, and it is advisable to start the digital transformation process at specific entry points and move forward gradually.
In PMCs in particular, digital transformation must be centered on people’s needs. Building an inclusive digital framework is imperative to ensure the current and future needs of people in all settings, in a responsive and sustainable way.
Citizens can and should participate in the digital transformation of public and social services, providing feedback on their needs in relation to these services, participating in projects and evaluating their quality.
In addition, the public can track government work and the status of city operations through unified public service platforms and interactive data analysis tools. It is also possible to use digital tools and services to help them adopt differentiated lifestyles in a variety of areas, such as mobility, leisure, employment, education and health.
Digital transformation in PMCs is as important as in big cities.
The paths are different, and this perception must be quite clear, not only for the rulers of the PMCs, but also for the state and federal organisms, which must structure themselves to provide the necessary subsidies for the definitive engagement of the PMCs in a virtuous era of transformations. digital.