illustration of a futuristic future-ready, technology enabled city
By Kristi Colmenero

Your roadmap to building a future-ready city

All around the world, cities of varying sizes and populations face unprecedented changes. The climate crisis and public push for sustainable, equitable, tech-forward policies that create real impacts for residents—combined with the COVID-19 pandemic—have proven challenging for urban and city leaders.

People are demanding more access to public services, especially digital access. They want better infrastructure, more intelligent real estate, mass transit and mobility, better public health services, affordable housing, and public safety. In short, they want their local governments to work for everyone now and in the future.

Tackling these challenges is no easy task. Budgetary constraints, regulatory and bureaucratic issues, and a dearth of tech-skilled workers have left many locales scrambling to keep up. City leaders need a clear blueprint for how to lead their towns into the future.

JLL Technologies, in partnership with ThoughtLab, teamed up with Hatch Urban Solutions and a coalition of business, governmental, and academic leaders to conduct groundbreaking research into how to make cities and towns future-ready. The result is our ebook, Building a Future-Ready City.

Overview of cities in this study

This in-depth study includes benchmarks from 200 cities across 67 nations, which contain more than 385 million people—nearly 5% of the world’s population. These municipalities vary by size, location, and level of economic development. More than half the locales in this study have fewer than one million inhabitants, while 44% are above the one million mark. Researchers also interviewed 2,000 residents from 20 cities, as well as urban leaders and decision-makers. Economic, social, regional, and population diversity were key to developing a well-rounded picture of what leaders are doing now and how they plan to invest in technologies over the next five years.

What leaders and residents are worried about

Large or small, there was nearly unanimous (94%) consensus among cities that climate change is the biggest crisis they’re facing right now. Considering recent climate-related disasters and increased public and governmental scrutiny, this was an unsurprising result. Public health, including mental health and addiction, was cited by 61% of those surveyed as a critical challenge. The citizens interviewed are deeply concerned about affordable housing, homelessness, income inequality, and infrastructure. Those in smaller towns were also more likely to express a desire for safer cities.

We have learned from the war that any unrealistic scenario can become realistic."

—Victoria Itskovych, the deputy CIO of the City of Kyiv

How to make your city future-ready—and why

“We have learned from the war that any unrealistic scenario can become realistic and that you must take this into account in your disaster recovery planning,” said Victoria Itskovych, the deputy CIO of the City of Kyiv, about the war in Ukraine.

Wars, natural disasters, a global pandemic—these last few years have proven that anything can happen, and our study shows that future-ready cities face fewer headwinds than those that are less prepared. But towns around the world are making giant strides to be more resilient, prepared, and prosperous. Different cities face different obstacles to making this happen. Those in emerging markets struggle with poorer infrastructure, weaker economic conditions, and wider talent gaps than their larger counterparts. Large metropolises grapple more with traffic congestion, ineffective public transportation, cyberattacks, crime, and homelessness.

What will future cities look like? Big or small, you can prepare your municipality by modeling what others with similar cultural, economic, and population conditions have done to leverage resources, invest in technologies, improve sustainability, and create more equitable, safe societies for their residents.

Download the ebook to learn how.