Management Insights

How the Internet of Things Could Transform Public Services

Cars that can communicate with each other to avoid collisions. Thermostats that can be controlled from thousands of miles away with a smartphone. Industrial machinery that alerts its operators when maintenance is needed. Coffeepots that talk to alarm clocks. All of these make one thing clear: The definition of a computer is changing, again.

The continued evolution toward cheaper processors and faster networks has enabled a shift from desktop workstations to mobile phones and, now, to everyday objects, inspiring the term "Internet of Things" (IoT). Almost any device can be Internet-enabled, linking it to additional computing power and analytic capabilities that make it "smart." READ MORE

The Uberizing of the Government Workforce

More and more, state and local governments are turning to temporary and contract employees in the wake of the Great Recession, which left their workforces shrunken by some 600,000 workers. Forty-two percent of human-resources managers surveyed this year by the Center for State and Local Government Excellence (SLGE) reported that they were hiring temporary or contract employees.

It's not hard to see why this is happening in government, just as it is in the private sector. One city manager put it this way: "Hiring contract employees is less risky if we have to downsize again -- and we don't have to cover their benefits." But governments have traditionally relied on high-quality benefits to attract and retain the stable workforces they need for the long haul. "If we're all Uberized, where do I get my benefits?" AFSCME's Steve Kreisberg asked at SLGE's recent Retirement Security Summit. READ MORE

The Long, Long Haul of Civic Progress

In March, Mayor Bob Buckhorn dedicated the latest section of Tampa's Riverwalk, which now stretches nearly two miles down a river and along a channel leading to Tampa Bay. As he cut the ribbon, Buckhorn said something that must have puzzled some in the audience: "This is a day that we have waited for for decades."

For decades? Actually, yes. You see, the Tampa Riverwalk was proposed in 1975 by then-Mayor Bill Poe -- as a Bicentennial project. The celebration of the American Bicentennial was in 1976. The Riverwalk has, well, taken longer than expected. READ MORE

Why Evidence-Based Policymaking Is Just the Beginning

State legislatures are turning to evidence-based policymaking as a way to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent efficiently and effectively. This is a very important development. For example, many states -- in response to research confirming that the early years of childhood affect learning, behavior and health for a lifetime -- have invested in family support and coaching programs.

These programs, often referred to as "home visiting," focus on strengthening vulnerable families during the critical period before age 5. Evidence shows that families that participate in visiting programs are often more stable and self-sufficient and are better able to handle stress. At the same time, parents who benefit from family support and coaching programs frequently raise their children with greater skill and confidence, leaving the children safer, healthier and better prepared to learn and grow. READ MORE

The Role of the Customer Experience in the Value of Government

We pay an inordinate amount of attention to the price or cost of government. It's time to transition the discussion to the value of government. Governments that provide the consumers of their services--their citizens, businesses and residents--with a satisfying consumer experience also go a long way toward creating a sense of place, that all-important feeling of connection and belonging so central to a community's well-being.

As democratic institutions, governments are responsible for delivering services and programs in an equitable manner and for creating social goods--public safety, infrastructure, education--that individuals otherwise would be unable to achieve on their own. But progressive leaders also recognize that ours is increasingly an experience-based economy. READ MORE