For Immediate Release: What are the Next Big Things Facing Local Government?

ARTICLE | Sep 24, 2015

Access The Next Big Things here.

The Alliance for Innovation, a network of 350 progressive city and county governments who are inspiring innovation to advance communities, has released a new report, “The Next Big Things: The Next 20 Years in Local Government.” It highlights 44 trends in four categories —Resources, Technology, Demographics and Governance —that they believe will have deep impact on how local government operates for the next generation.

“Some say we are entering ‘the city century’ when local communities, not the federal or state governments, will set priorities and be leaders in government innovation. The Next Big Things will fuel those efforts by helping local governments focus on the right things, and offering tools to help them prioritize and take action,” said Karen Thoreson, President of the Alliance for Innovation.

The 44 trends were gathered from a national and international panel of experts, plus an exhaustive literature scan. The 44 trends are:

1. Climate Change

2. Food Insecurity

3. Water Shortages & Access

4. Energy Grid Disruption

5. Mining

6. The “NORC” Shift

7. Digital Citizens

8. Sharing Economy

9. Education Reform

10. Open Innovation

11. Behavioral Insights

12. Unmanning

13. Decentralized Manufacturing & 3-D Printing

14. Global, Digital Currency

15. Carless Cities

16. Infrastructure Overhaul

17. New Financial Partnerships

18. Microgrids

19. Off-Gridding

20. Electric Vehicles

21. Water Recycling

22. Desalinization

23. Nanotechnology

24. Tech-Enabled Health Care

25. Biomimicry

26. Tribalism & Identity Politics

27. Structural (Youth) Unemployment

28. Civil Rights Spring

29. Mass Migration

30. Middle Class Map

31. Elder Expense

32. Urbanization: Mega & Mid-Sized

33. Rural v. Urban

34. Smart Citizens

35. Nomadic Workforce

36. Hyper-Localization

37. Declining Federal Government

38. Trust in Government

39. City-to-City Collaboration

40. VUCA Leadership

41. Citizen Engagement

42. Direct Democracy

43. Corporate and Special Interest Influence

44. Fiscal Uncertainty

Rebecca Ryan, the principal author of the report and the Alliance’s resident futurist says, “Not all of these 44 trends will impact every community, but this research gives communities a strong starting spot, and a process to prioritize and take action.”

About the Alliance for Innovation:  The Alliance for Innovation is inspiring innovation to advance communities.  As the premier resource for emerging practices in local government, the Alliance is building cultures of innovation and connecting thought leaders in the profession with the help of our partners ICMA and ASU.  We are accessible and valuable to all levels of an organization. For more information visit 

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