How can city governments incorporate digitalization when building urban resilience?

Date: 5 Jul 2023

An analysis through a resilience lens makes it possible to identify the many ways in which digitalization can accelerate urban resilience. Using the City Resilience Framework, we can identify the intersections between digitalization and greater adaptability in urban environments.

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City Resilience Framework

The City Resilience Framework (CRF) is a conceptual framework, offering a common reference point for understanding what we mean when we talk about cities’ resilience. It was developed alongside Arup in 2014 on the back of extensive research looking at the existing literature, at case studies, and from fieldwork. It offers an evidence-based, holistic articulation of city resilience structured around four categories: Health and wellbeing of individuals (people), Urban systems and society (organization), Economy and society (organization), and Leadership and strategy (knowledge). The framework identifies 12 key indicators that describe the fundamental attributes of a resilient system, whose relative importance is context dependent. It also outlines the seven qualities of resilient systems.


Governments can take advantage of the shift toward digitalization to strengthen cities’ democratic governance. The opportunities for managing information and communication improves communication between authorities and residents, promoting resident participation and accountability to help strategic planning, inclusion, the integration of systems and the robustness of city management systems.

What can cities do?

  • Develop open-government digital platforms
  • Create methods to consult and communicate with the population
  • Incorporate digital solutions in planning strategies
  • Implement systems and digital infrastructure to manage public services
  • Use results-driven planning systems


The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have proven that digitalization can help keep essential services operating for city populations’ health and well-being. Capitalizing on this initiative and making digitalization more universal and inclusive opens up opportunities for social innovation related to facilitating access to education services, health, mobility, employment, culture and so on.

What can cities do?

  • Use information and communication technologies (ICTs) to transform education.
  • Develop universal digital connectivity, concentrating on peripheral and vulnerable areas.
  • Implement strategies for digital inclusion, digital citizenship and smart cities through a gender approach or by focusing on vulnerable demographic groups such as young people, migrants and senior citizens.
  • Digitalize essential public services such as healthcare, social security, care systems, etc.
  • Compile and analyze data to inform public policies, especially service provision.


The digitalization of production chains and commerce increases the efficiency of economic processes, optimizes resources and expands markets. The economy’s digitalization, when planned from the perspective of protecting and creating jobs, also has the potential to increase social inclusion, add value and maximize human talent, aiming to ensure that vulnerable populations are not excluded.

What can cities do?

  • Boost the digitalization of businesses by incorporating technology into production processes, using online tax registration and filings.
  • Increase e-commerce and digital payment mechanisms to strengthen local businesses.
  • Implement labor-mobility and employee relocation strategies to protect employment and increase the economic, social and/or environmental value of work.
  • Develop digital economies and the technological innovation sector with a qualified workforce ready to join this sector.


Digital inclusion strategies help strengthen urban infrastructure by adding a critical layer of urban assets (everything from expanding energy and communications services to broadband networks and IT systems) that enable cities to become more resilient. This infrastructure also optimizes resources to minimize urban systems’ environmental impacts and to adapt to climate change. 

What can cities do?

  • Launch strategies to make digital infrastructure universal through “neutral networks” with a focus on peripheral and vulnerable areas.
  • Use systems to optimize the management of natural resources and the functioning of related public services.
  • Develop climate-monitoring and risk-management systems.
  • Establish digital strategies to reduce waste and develop the circular management of raw materials.


Why should cities make digitalization more inclusive?

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