Taking the Equity Approach to Inclusive Cities
Continuing the momentum of collaboration in 2021
Central Park in springtime, New York city, USA
Over the past year, cities continued to face new obstacles and challenges to manage response and recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. Facing budget constraints as a result of shutdowns, city programs often didn’t have the resources required to ensure their programs reached those in need and lacked the technology infrastructure to deliver solutions at scale.
To address the challenge, city leaders leaned on private-public partnerships – demonstrating the strength of collaboration during a period of turmoil. This year alone, Mastercard partnered with over 200+ cities across the U.S. to enable digital financial aid disbursements, provide data science expertise to help channel investments to underserved communities, provide cybersecurity and fraud assistance, and increase access to vital city programs.
Local governments have had to accelerate their digital agendas to support recovery efforts. As the pandemic spread, cities partnered with universities, advocacy groups, private industry and each other to develop or deploy digital engagement tools, move services and schools online, and utilize technology to understand the economic impact of the pandemic and inform response strategies.
It accelerated a technological transformation that has been slowly gaining momentum over the past decade.
The shift to digital suddenly was no longer a “nice to have” but became critical to remain operational and interconnected. It’s not a blip on the radar. New technologies will continue to reshape how governments operate and interact with their constituents in ways that will live beyond the pandemic.
But the rapid deployment of new technologies has posed the poignant question – how do we ensure these innovations are implemented equitably for the advancement of more inclusive communities?
As we begin to digitize government services, it is in the business interest of the private sector and our social responsibility to ensure that people and organizations have access to the networks, tools and solutions that can help them reach their potential and achieve financial security. We need to infuse inclusion into how we develop technology and which challenges we focus on solving, ensuring that everyone has access. The key will be rolling out these new innovations in a way that’s inclusive, and satisfies the needs of those who aren’t typically part of the digital ecosystem.
This is not just about delivering government services, but more concretely – opening pathways that promote economic mobility and sustainable wealth creation for all residents. If the public is digitally literate and resources more accessible, they will be able to access jobs, training, upskilling, and education opportunities that can set residents on the pathway to success. We have to remember that people are the heart of every city, and any solution created should be made with them at the center. That means we play an important role in connecting the digital dots for governments across the globe.
Inclusion is at the core of everything we do at Mastercard and it’s our job to help governments maintain and build off the momentum of the progress made this year. If we expand on this extended trust to build new models of collaboration, then there is a real path to creating more inclusive communities over the long term, where everyone has an opportunity to thrive.