Self-driving cars and other emerging technologies are going to cut into municipal budgets nationwide, a panel of futurists says.
Imagine this brave new world:
• Autonomous cars that never speed, never run red lights — and owners who never get popped for drunken driving or pay a dime for traffic tickets.
• Robotic vehicles that deliver people and goods anywhere — and choke off income taxes from displaced taxi drivers and delivery-truck drivers.
The financial impact of driverless cars represents just one of many ways emerging technologies will disrupt local governments, according to the authors of a report published by the Brookings Institution, a non-profit public-policy organization based in Washington, D.C.
Technology already is affecting social behavior, the authors wrote.
Social media has enabled quick-forming communities of like-minded residents to lobby local leaders in a nearly unprecedented manner. The concept of municipal-level, flash-mob political movements hardly existed before Twitter.
Similarly, governments will have opportunities to brand their municipalities as centers for immigrants and the creative class who will hold jobs that survive — and benefit — from emerging technologies.
“In order to be a relevant and critical player in the future, local governments will need to rethink their design, strategy, operations and processes in fundamental ways,” the researchers wrote.
“We assert that changes on the not-too-distant horizon will require local governments to be agile, nimble and dynamic,” they wrote.
Local governments have until about 2035 to figure it out.
The ASU report says robotic vehicles could take jobs
The 27-page report was written by two Arizona State University professors and four students. The professors: Kevin Desouza, an associate dean in the College of Public Service and Community Solutions, and David Swindell, director of the Center for Urban Innovation.
The students: Kendra Smith, a postdoctoral student in public service and community solutions; Alison Sutherland, a doctoral student in liberal arts and sciences; Kena Fedorschak, a graduate student in business; and Carolina Coronel, a recent graduate in public service and community solutions.