Governments Increase Smart City Investments to Mitigate Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic

Author photo: Larry O'Brien
ByLarry O'Brien
ARC Report Abstract


Despite decreased tax revenues and reduced workforces, ARC Advisory Group research indicates that technology is increasingly being deployed around the world at all levels of government to help combat the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Despite the obvious headwinds, many cities, states, and – indeed – entire countries are forging ahead with large increases in technology investment, both to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and reignite economic growth.

While ARC expects many smart cities-related markets to decline in 2020, this increased investment in technology will provide an impetus for growth and quick recovery.  Here are some examples of what leading governments around the world are doing right now. 

Singapore Increases Technology Investment by 30 Percent

Singapore remains one of the world’s leading smart cities.  Rather than cut back on technology investment in the wake of COVID-19, the Government of Singapore announced in June of 2020 that it had decided to increase its investment in information technology by 30 percent.  The Singapore Government Technology Agency (GovTech) announced that it would spend around $3.5 billion in 2020, up from $2.7 billion in FY 2019.  Development of new technology tools to fight COVID-19 was cited as a major reason for the increased investment. 

China Reignites Smart City Investments and Technology Initiatives

China launched a “new infrastructure initiative” in 2018, but has really rejuvenated the program in the wake of COVID-19, using increased investment in smart city technologies to spur innovation and the economy and advance its attempt to leapfrog the US as a technology leader.  China has announced that it will dramatically increase investments in 5G, smart grids, data centers, and other smart city-related areas.  Aggregating sources of data across cities has already been called out as a major part of the initiative and will lead to significant growth in smart city platforms. 

New Orleans and other US Cities Invest in Data Management and Analysis Tools

Many cities have established open data initiatives.  For example, the city of New Orleans in Louisiana is using tools like Power BI to set up dashboards to track key trends related to the pandemic.  These dashboards utilize data from both the city and state levels.  Testing results, fatalities, and other types of data are overlaid with geographical data to determine which areas require more attention. 

Smart City Investments

Unlike in many other world regions, municipalities in North America are very diverse in size.  This represents opportunities for smart cities technology suppliers.  While the US and Canada have many of the world’s largest cities, a huge number of medium size and smaller cities are investing in smart city projects.  These smaller-to-medium-size cities will also face the biggest challenges when it comes to dealing with the many workforce issues created by the COVID-19 pandemic, including increased demand for remote monitoring and operations.  Smaller, rural communities are especially challenged and need better coordination with and help from the state level to adapt to the new set of challenges posed by the post-COVID world. 


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Keywords: Smart City Platforms, COVID-19, Smart Cities, ARC Advisory Group.

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