Looking back at recent innovations in technology, from broadband to social media to cloud computing, each one inevitably brought its own risks. For all their benefits, there were always those who ran into trouble. Even now, the implementation of these technologies requires careful consideration.
The same applies for the wave of new technologies which are emerging today. Virtual reality, robotics and 3D printing all have the potential to transform how local authorities work. In the search for greater efficiency, it makes sense to utilise new technology.
However, all new technologies bring a unique blend of risks and challenges of which councils must be aware. By disrupting traditional procedures, new technologies can generate new and unexpected problems. Audiences, who might have preferred the old way of doing things could be upset. Councils may find themselves exposed to new threats, or unprepared for new demands.
Connected devices - also known as the internet of things - provide a useful contrast in the benefits and drawbacks. Devices that can respond to one another can bring efficiency savings - demand-sensitive parking meters, streetlights that can detect approaching vehicles, intelligent CCTV cameras - which have the power to transform local communities.
On the other hand, experts have identified connected devices as a potential weak spot, which could prove an irresistible target for hackers. Should the council’s property or infrastructure be compromised, it could bring about disastrous consequences, damaging the relationship between the council and its citizens.
This doesn’t mean that local authorities should simply stay away. Instead, they should conduct thorough risk assessments before progressing with new technology, embedding an awareness of the risks from the very beginning.
Given the power of the latest wave of innovative technology to revolutionise our communities, caution is understandable. After all, disruption usually involves some pain. But with the right mindset, councils can adopt new technologies with greater confidence, whilst being aware of the associated risks.
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Readers should not act upon (or refrain from acting upon) information in this article and related document links without first taking further specialist or professional advice.
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Risk Management Partners Limited is authorised and regulated
by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Registered office: The Walbrook Building 25 Walbrook, London EC4N 8AW.
Registered in England and Wales. Company no. 2989025.