Trends in Technology: What Are Others Saying?

In this series we will provide snippets and links to secondary sources that focus on the trends highlighted in the Next Big Things report. Take a look at what other people are talking about when it come to some of the major trends in technology and their impact on local government.

ARTICLE | Jul 28, 2016


What are the Next Big Things facing local government? The Alliance for Innovation's the Next Big Things report highlights 44 trends within four forces -- Resource, Technology, Demographics, and Governance -- that could impact how local government operates in the next generation. Relying on the expertise of primary author Rebecca Ryan, engaging in an exhaustive literatary scan, and a delphi panel of subject matter experts, the report provides detailed information on the four forces and 44 trends (view the trends slide deck), challenging us to look beyond the horizon and imagine our communities one generation from now.

As you read through the report (visit the NBT page to download the free version and get the premium version), how do you envision using the Next Big Things? What trends are already impacting your community or have you started actively planning for? Tell us in the comment section below, by joining the Next Big Things KN Group, tweeting @transformgov using #NBT, or emailing us at

Periodically we will be providing resources from people and organizations unaffiliated with the Alliance or the Next Big Things project. Last, we looked at what others are saying about trends in the Resource force. This time, we will be looking at a few of the trends in Technology -- a force that is on the top of mind of many people in local government. While the articles below only scratch the surface of certain trends, they do reinforce the realities and tangible repercussions each trend could have and hopefully serve as another spark to help your community think about how to become #futureready as you explore the Next Big Things. Have you come across anything recently that you think others would benefit from? Let us know in the comments below! 



Drones and the "Wild West" of Regulatory Experimentation

Alliance Board Members and Arizona State University Professors Kevin Desouza and David Swindell along with New York attorney Sandra P.K. Glimcher, wrote an article for Brookings on the regulatory environment for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs): "As noted in our recent Brookings Institution report, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly referred to as drones, are an emerging technology that requires the attention of local governments. Unfortunately, regulations governing their usage are significantly lagging the pace of innovation. Individual citizens who do not want these devices flying over (or even near) their property due to privacy or safety concerns have limited options. You can stay in your home and turn the music up until it goes away. Or you can go about your business and ignore the possibility that the drone has a camera to see inside your home. Others might prefer a more active response. In fact, there have been several recent instances where residents have taken it upon themselves to remove these drones from the skies…by force." Read the full article... and if you are looking for more even information, checkout our webinar about drones with David Swindell.

Global, Digital Currencies

Swiss City to Accept Bitcoin Payments for Government Services

"The city of Zug, Switzerland, has announced it will pilot a bitcoin payments project that will allow local citizens to pay for public services using digital currency.

Zug, a well-known Swiss financial hub long associated with the country’s tax haven reputation, kicked off the initiative during a local government hearing on 3rd May. Payments will go live on 1st July and run through the rest of the year, the city said in a statement.

The move was announced on the city’s official website, which characterized the initiative as a means to assess the efficacy of accepting bitcoin for public obligations that cost 200 francs (roughly 0.44 BTC at press time) or less." Read the entire article...

Decentralized Manufacturing and 3D Printing

3D printing has increasingly become an important technology, both at the consumer and for small businesses. As interest in them has grown, combined with the changing landscape of public, local libraries, many libraries have decided to offer 3D printing as a core or novelty service. Some examples include:

City of Seattle, WA

City of Virginia Beach, VA

City of Oak Lawn, IL

Beyond libraries offering 3D printing to residents and customers, though, there is a growing belief that the application will expand and become something that local governments can leverage for a wide range of things. Among their potential uses, SlateTech says that 3D printers are able to aid in the process of city plannning.

Exploring All the Angles of 3D Printing

"Two decades in the making, 3D printing has revolutionized the way industry produces objects ranging from toys, tools and food to airplanes, automobiles and body parts. The technology has also shown promise in government for urban planning and economic development.

For example, the cities of Louisville, Ky., and San Francisco worked with industry partners to develop 3D models of buildings. Urban planners can use 3D models to visualize traffic patterns, demographics and energy consumption. This data provides a better understanding of the way new buildings and infrastructure will affect the urban landscape and the residents who live and work there." Read the full article...


The Growing Role of Energy Storage in Microgrids

Wondering what California local governments are moving forward with microgrids? Check out the microgrid at Santa Rita Jail (which is putting its microgrid to work for resiliency and demand response), or the work underway to develop microgrids at Fremont fire stations. Find more on microgrids available here. Check out the source...

In the next installment of Proof is in the Pages, we will highlight articles, reports, and more focusing on some more of the trends within the Technology force.

In the meantime, we really do want to hear from you: send us any articles on the trends you have come across, let us know what trends are affecting or going to affect your community, or how you are becoming future ready! Drop us a line in the comment section below, by joining the Next Big Things KN Group, tweeting @transformgov using #NBT, or emailing us at

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