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Manage urban services

Step 1

Clarify expectations to improve the supply of services


Integrate digital tools for improving, extending and integrating existing services, whether in the official utility network or private or alternative offers.

In the context of developing cities where urban services are partially insufficient or faulty, the arrival of ICT offers several possibilities for the local authorities.

  • Gravitate towards a rationale of collaborative public services driven by the local authority, with a multiplicity of stakeholders monitored thanks to ICT. The local authorities, their private or public delegates, can use digital technology to better control their network, but also for a better knowledge of third party supply. Inventory, mapping, alignment of price offers, monitoring system, can be more easily harmonised thanks to digital tools.
  • Encourage the “uberisation” of the services with caution: ICT facilitates the matching of a totally privatised supply and demand according to pure market rules without intermediary or regulation (development of services on demand via telephone, mobile payment). Digital technology can feed advanced commoditization of urban services, with the multiplication of offers of private services, whether formal or not, which escape the control of the public authorities and follow the market laws by responding to the demands of the solvent population. The risk is that the service providers focus on the profitable segments of the market, leaving aside the population or zones that are less interesting financially, without the local authorities being able to ensure equality or even guarantee a certain standard of quality and security of supply.
  • Encourage the development of proximity community services that complete the public service offer. From a more social perspective, NGOs and citizens can make use of ICT to improve the existing provision of informal services: by making it easier to provide on demand services, including in the most vulnerable neighbourhoods, by allowing the informal providers to make their actions more visible, by offering them possibilities of monitoring their activities, or by turning towards the offer of start-ups or stakeholders in the social economy who embrace digital technology to provide services to those who are excluded.

The local authority may be led to give precedence to certain orientations:

  • Boost the existing official provider of the service considered thanks to digital tools: improve technical performance, reorganisation of commercial offer, efficiency of internal management, etc.;
  • Use digital technology to facilitate recognition and collaboration with other service providers: identification and contractualisation of the informal sector, development of more flexible, or even on demand services, harmonisation of tariffs.

For mature networks with good coverage of the city, the authorities can encourage the utility provider to monitor comprehensive dashboards on service management. These indicators can provide a global image of the data on the network, how it operates, its weaknesses or insufficiencies. In the case of networks with partial coverage, full mapping (technical, commercial, management characteristics) of alternative offers would be the equivalent. More complex, because it has to incorporate a variety of stakeholders and data, this mapping can, in the long term, facilitate their integration into a coherent system on the territory.

Practical exercise

Make perfectly clear the expectations of digital technology for each urban service

Choose an orientation representing one of the main goals of the introduction of digital technology from among the following proposals

  • Digital technology contributes to improving the supply of urban services for better inclusion and sustainability.
  • Digital technology can facilitate and accompany the development of new private services.
  • Digital technology can be used to list the existing alternative service providers and have them cooperate.

Identify the population groups with little or poor service and make sure they benefit from the digitalization of the service

  • Who are the social groups or neighbourhoods with no access to the service concerned? To what extent can digital technology accentuate this exclusion?
  • Who are the informal service providers who could lose their business when the digital systems are introduced?

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