How governments are updating ‘operational technologies,’ including AI, and the challenges that remain: survey

State and local governments often struggle with staffing and budgeting issues that act as barriers to innovation. Most of these agencies need better technology solutions to drive project and worker efficiency when updating highways, utilities and other regional infrastructure.

State and local agencies are increasingly investing in “operational technologies” that allow them to better manage infrastructure, vehicle fleets, machinery and facilities, according to a national survey of 100 state and local government leaders released Tuesday by the Center for Digital Government and Samsara, a cloud-computing company focused on physical operations.

Nearly three-quarters of state and local officials said their organization has invested in technology to modernize physical operations but needs more improvements. Over half of the survey respondents reported their agency plans to upgrade systems by 2025, with 49% reporting that their agency has adopted or aims to adopt emerging technologies such as AI and automation. 

Additionally, 72% of state and local officials said their agency invested in digital technology to improve operational efficiency, with half citing cost savings. Another 41% of survey respondents said their organization sought to improve resilience and operational continuity, as the effects of climate change loom large.

Suyog Deshpande, head of product and partner marketing at Samsara, said in an email, “The scale of influence severe weather and climate disasters have had on technology interest was eye-opening. We’re seeing more government leaders turn to data and insights to navigate disruptions caused by unexpected events.”

While 59% of state and local government officials said they struggle to fund modernization projects, CDG estimates that total state and local IT spending will grow 3% to 5% in 2023, totaling $137 billion. The survey says that figure could rise as funding from the 2021 infrastructure law begins to roll out. 

In addition, more than half of survey respondents said their organizations lacked the staffing and skills to implement such projects, and nearly a third said outdated technologies were a barrier to modernization.

CDG found regional differences in state and local plans to invest in operational technologies, with survey respondents in the Western U.S. most likely to have upgrade plans and those from the Midwest least likely to. The report did not explain why that may be.


This article was written by Michael Brady from Smart Cities Dive and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive Content Marketplace. Please direct all licensing questions to