Smart City Solutions for a Riskier World

April 12, 2021

In the pandemic era, ensuring a healthy, safe, and prosperous future for citizens has been a burning imperative for city leaders. But with city budgets under pressure, it also has been their biggest challenge. COVID-19 has served as a stress test for cities as businesses and services were shut down and medical facilities stretched to their limit. It also exposed weaknesses in digital infrastructure and resilience as disruptions emerged unexpectedly with far-reaching aftershocks. Simultaneously, cities are facing mounting pressures to address vulnerabilities related to cybersecurity and climate change.

Yet the pandemic also has been a catalyst for change. It is accelerating the reliance on technology, smart innovation, and e-commerce, while transforming citizen behaviors and expectations, and redefining how people work and live. It is also underscoring the role of collaboration among business, government, and academia to achieve social, environmental, and economic goals.

To succeed in the post-COVID world, urban leaders need access to evidence-based analysis showing the innovative technologies, solutions, and business models that will work best, particularly when the next disruption hits.

ESI ThoughtLab has collaborated with a global coalition of business, government, and academic leaders to provide city decision-makers with such an evidence-based roadmap. Called Smart City Solutions for a Riskier World, this research initiative explores how 167 cities—with diverse populations and economies—use smart innovation and public-private partnerships to drive results.

Our goal is to provide an evidence-based roadmap to urban resilience and sustainability and to open a valuable dialogue on the future of cities among government, business, and academic leaders.

Lou Celi, CEO
ESI ThoughtLab

“The challenges we faced with the pandemic—the need for a good health system, a good education system, less inequalities, and a more resilient economy—were already on the agenda. The pandemic just made us believe more in the agenda.”

Miquel Rodriguez Planas, 2030 Agenda Commissioner, Barcelona City Council

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About the Provider

ESI ThoughtLab
ESI ThoughtLab is an innovative thought leadership and economic research firm providing fresh ideas and evidence-based analysis to help business and government leaders cope with transformative change. We specialize in analyzing the impact of technological, economic, and demographic shifts on industries, cities, and companies. ESI ThoughtLab is the thought leadership arm of Econsult Solutions, a leading economic consultancy with links to the academic community.


COVID-19, Public sector innovation, Smart City