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The Smart Mobility Summit kicked off in Amsterdam today. Highlighted on the agenda is a designated track for topics relating to smart cities. Sean O’Brien, vice president for Future Cities and Public Security, SAP, spoke at the event today on the topic of Digital Citizen Engagement. I recently had the fortune of sitting down with Sean to ask for his views on best practices for applying digital technology to solve the challenges of the world’s future cities.

Below is an excerpt from that interview, in which Sean provided three inspiring examples of how digital technology is being used to make a tangible impact in cities and improve the quality of life for citizens.

You can read the full interview with Sean on the SAP News Center at Digital Citizen Engagement: Redesigning Local Government Services in a Digital Framework.

“SAP News: What are SAP’s priorities for its Future Cities agenda? How do these technology priorities align with real-world trends we are seeing in the public sector?

Sean O’Brien: When we think about the Future Cities challenge, three themes emerge: resiliency, digital transformation, and economic prosperity. In terms of resiliency, a good example is the city of Buenos Aires, which has been prone to serious flooding. One of their challenges was that when it rains the drains can’t take the water away fast enough and the drains get blocked. By putting sensors in the drains, they were able to analyze where they needed to deploy their resources in real time to fix the drains and stop the consequential flooding. It’s been very successful.

In terms of digital transformation, a good example is the state of Indiana. They wanted to reduce the rates of child infant mortality. To do that, they really needed to get all the data sets across the state and analyze those in a very scientific way. They brought the business people who deal with child infant affairs into that discussion to work on teams with the decision makers, program makers, and policy makers. Data allowed them to understand, plan, prioritize, and target risk groups. There is a program in place now to target risk mothers and digital media will play a role in reaching out to those groups.

In terms of economic prosperity, the city of Nanjing in China, for example, is using digital technology along with the ability to engage citizens and the service providers to understand where traffic and taxis are concentrated and where the flows of traffic are moving. They are able then to communicate that information to the citizens, so they can make better choices about their transport options. You can use digital technology across the whole network of activities to improve an outcome: reducing flood risks, reducing child infant mortality, and improving transport. All those things have a real impact on the city and the quality of life of the citizens themselves.”

To learn more, read the SAP white paper: Frictionless Government

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