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Local government 2035: Strategic trends and implications of new technologies

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Technological change is increasingly disruptive and destabilizing. In order to maintain effective governance systems, public sector entities must overcome stagnant tendencies and take a proactive stance—acting in the face of impending technological innovations. Future government entities must evolve into lean, responsive, and adaptive organizations capable of rapid response to societal shifts.

In this paper, authors Kevin C. Desouza, David Swindell, Kendra L. Smith, Alison Sutherland, Kena Fedorschak, and Carolina Coronel illustrate how technological advancements, such as the proliferation of drone technologies, artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, and peer-2-peer services, will introduce data privatization challenges and destabilize existing governance systems. In order to maintain effective service delivery, public sector entities must increasingly consider the ramifications technology will have on income inequality, fragile and conflict states, and immigration—just to name a few.

They conclude by urging policymakers and government managers to chart out trends based on data, model the interactions within complex systems, and study the pathways towards outcomes to unearth intended and unintended consequences of strategic choices. The authors argue that designing a path forward for local governments will require deliberate collaboration among diverse stakeholders, an immersive engagement with the data and scenarios that will shape local communities, and employment of decision-tools to model and simulate alternatives.


David Swindell

Director of the Center for Urban Innovation and Associate Professor - School of Public Affairs at Arizona State University


Kendra L. Smith

Kendra L. Smith is a doctoral candidate in the School of Community Resources and Development within the College of Public Programs at Arizona State University.


Kena Fedorschak

He engages on policy driven research efforts at Arizona State University's Decision Theater Network. He is also pursuing his MBA at the W.P. Carey School of Business. Kena can be reached at

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