The current COVID-19 pandemic has had unprecedented impacts on individuals and society as a whole. What was initially considered a China-specific outbreak spread quickly throughout the world, hospitalizing many and killing thousands. Until recently, most cases were found around major cities such as New York, London and Madrid, where the virus spread rapidly among dense, closely populated communities.
The fact that this pandemic has happened in the middle of a digital revolution hasn’t gone unnoticed. The hotspot cities represent not just melting pots of culture and connected communities, but they are also the ones at the forefront of innovation, relying on technology to combat many of their problems. When the pandemic arrived, however, questions arose over how well connected cities would respond.
As many predicted, this pandemic has caused a worldwide economic recession, slashing budgets for organizations in all sectors — government, business and academia. City budgets haven’t been spared, either, with the mayor of London’s Chief Digital Officer Theo Blackwell, acknowledging public-sector budgets will need to be reevaluated post-COVID. Transforming smart cities isn’t cheap, and governments are facing COVID-related budget cuts that could stop funding for tech innovation projects.