Thursday, June 4, 2015

Today meets the future at the Annual Meeting (with a little Jetsons humor thrown in)

Remember watching the old Jetsons cartoons? Many of their futuristic technologies are actually a normal part of our lives today – video phone calls, interactive watches, flat screen televisions and microwaves just to name a few. It’s funny to watch these old cartoons today and see how the Jetsons' creators 50 years ago envisioned the future.

Today, the future comes at us faster than ever before. Consider this…it took 30 years for electricity to gain a 10 percent reach of American households and 25 years for the telephone. Compare that to less than five years for the cellphone and tablet (Harvard Business Review).

Technology is changing the way everyone does business, and local governments are no different.  From self-driving cars to IT hacking and drones to the sharing economy, technology we would have deemed futuristic just years ago is rapidly becoming the norm.

The Association’s Annual Meeting in July will give attendees a glimpse of how cities need to be prepared to adopt a mindset for the future and accurately evaluate new technologies that are showing up daily.

The Annual Meeting’s keynote speaker is Rebecca Ryan, a noted “futurist” who has spent many years researching and teaching about how local leaders can be prepared for the future. From technology and demographics to transportation and policy development, Ryan’s talk will get local leaders thinking about the fact that the future really is here today.

Some of this technology will be at the forefront during Annual Meeting sessions. Attendees will learn about cybersecurity, broadband deployment, police body cameras, and the challenges and benefits of drones.

A technology guru formerly with the Florida League of Cities will lead a break-out session looking at how specific technologies will affect city operations and how residents interact with cities using technology. Read Frank Hagy’s book, The Future is Closer than You Think: Cities Take on Technology, to get a glimpse of what his session will cover.

The director of research at the National League of Cities will speak during a break-out session about the sharing economy and how companies like Uber and airbnb will affect municipal policy and finances. Learn more about the sharing economy in NLC’s recently released study and video.

So hop on the Jetson’s moving sidewalk and buckle yourself into George’s flying car and get ready to take a leap into the future at the Association’s Annual Meeting.

(And for quick shot of Jetson nostalgia, watch the program’s intro here)

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