The world’s two greatest populations, China and India, will be the major contributors of an additional 2.9 billion people by 2050, according to The United Nations. With existing cosmopolitan cities getting increasingly populated, it is simply not feasible to just keep packing in the people without implementing some major changes.

Ovum, an analyst and consulting company, recently published a report titled ‘Is your city smart enough?’, and recommended that information technology be embedded as a crucial part of designing, building and operating cities more efficiently. Ovum also predicts that hundred of new cities will be built and expanded to accommodate this influx of population. The report suggested two strategies on how technology can improve city living – first with a Digital-City strategy, and next with Digital-Society initiatives.

Digital-City strategies include improving a city’s internal structures, from IP networks and e-government services to digitizing transport, healthcare and education. The aim is to enable cities to function more efficiently.

Digital-Society initiatives, on the other hand, involve encouraging societal self-help; strengthen social bonds and emerging digital use into every day communication life. An example would be social networking sites that enable city dwellers to connect and communicate. These initiatives will also help hold government bodies accountable with transparent communication. These new platforms will also enable easier and quicker communication between businesses and consumers.

Dr Steve Hodgkinson, research director of Ovum, says: “Together, formal Digital-City strategies and emergent Digital-Society initiatives offer the prospect of making cities more efficient and more livable even as they become more densely populated.”

Ovum also believes that digital technology will help cities become more sustainable and cope well with raising populations. “Urbanisation trends compel cities to innovate to prosper – sustainably accommodating a further 2.9 billion people in cities during the next 40 years can’t be done unless we change the way they are built and operated,” says Hodgkinson.  Cloud computing will also help drive global cities to use shared global technology and solution platforms, as opposed to each city having to build and reinvent their individual cities, thereby cutting cost and resources, and being able to tap into talents from across the world.

Digital technologies will continue to play an even more crucial role in both the daily lives of people and in the growth of city infrastructure. “Mayors and CEOs of municipal authorities should pay attention to leading Digital-City practices emerging around the world and assess the opportunities to leverage new ideas and share proven solutions. They should also note that global platforms are empowering citizens to create vibrant Digital-Society initiatives of their own. Technology is providing new low-cost tools to strengthen communities and new ways for communities to express their voice and to hold governments to account,” says Hodgkinson.