Insight & Analysis

Press release: Future-proofing cities in a post-pandemic world

Published: Jul 2021

8th July 2021 – Deloitte are delighted to announce the launch of our latest report from the Deloitte Centre for Government Insights, Future-proofing cities in a post-pandemic world: Four capabilities to build resiliency in cities.

Newspaper press release

As the cross-cutting impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to unfold, cities globally are tested on their current state of preparedness as well as their ability to respond to future threats.

This article focuses on how cities can build resiliency in public health systems, government operations, and other city domains by focusing on four key capabilities: nimbleness, scalability, stability, and optionality. Our recommendations are informed by a global survey of 167 cities conducted by Deloitte and ESI ThoughtLab to identify challenges and track progress made by cities in each of the key capabilities of resiliency.

Key highlights

Four key capabilities found in resilient organisations can be used in the city context to understand the progress cities have made in evolving long-term resiliency:

  • Nearly 52% of surveyed cities cited complex policies, regulations, and procurement procedures as the biggest challenge in achieving their social, environmental, and economic goals.
  • Interestingly, cities that are more advanced on the smart maturity curve feel it’s an even bigger challenge than others, with 62% of smart city leaders surveyed calling it out as a challenge compared to 56% of intermediate and 39%.
  • Only 15% of surveyed cities cited limited digital infrastructure and inflexible legacy systems as a challenge in achieving their social, environmental, and economic goals.
  • Cloud is the top digital technology investment, with nearly 88% of cities surveyed making large cloud infrastructure investments today.
  • Nearly 40% of surveyed cities cited lack of timely access to data and advanced analytics to drive operations and decision-making as a big gap during the pandemic—and considered it as a crucial learning from COVID-19.
  • About 50% of cities stated that finding the right suppliers, partners, and consultants was one of the biggest challenges in achieving their smart city goals.
  • Nearly 50% of cities plan to prioritise partnerships with start-ups, consultants, and multilateral organisations.

Lessons on resiliency from Singapore’s experience

Singapore’s experience in responding to the pandemic provides some important lessons on resiliency:

  • One, it takes years of concerted efforts to build resiliency; it is primarily a capacity-building exercise with a strong focus on areas with the biggest gaps. In Singapore’s case, some of the initiatives that have paid off today were implemented and improved over a 20-year period.
  • Two, the efforts should be at scale and cover all city functions and domains. Singapore purposefully built capacity in public health systems, IT infrastructure, supply chain, and more, to build resiliency.

Download the report

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