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Procuring technology and innovation: why it is time for a rethink

Andrew Watkins, President and COO of, explains how city governments can make the procurement of technology both cheaper and more efficient

State and local government in the US have a difficult task. They are involved in a lot of sectors–transport, public safety, healthcare, construction and tourism to name but a few–but unlike private companies, they do not get to pick and choose which demographics or target market they serve. Governments must serve everyone and do so equitably.

But governments are not businesses; they don’t have profit goals though they do have to balance the books even if residents don’t expect financial returns. We do, however, expect high-quality, efficient services even when we sacrifice some of that for equity.

Innovation and technology can be a double-edged sword in this respect for governments. Mobile applications can save time when residents are waiting in line at city hall and sensors that tell you where potholes exist are more effective than municipal contractors driving around to locate them. On the flip side, technology raises the expectations of residents. The faster the innovation comes, the faster the gap between expectation and reality can grow. Which is why we need to make procurement of technology fit for purpose.

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