As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to sweep our nation, more and more budget cuts are being enforced throughout the country. Over several months of the pandemic, the unemployment rate has grown faster than in the crisis of 2008, the consumption of consumer goods — which supports 70% of the economy — has fallen dramatically, and customer behavior has switched to a mode of prudence.

HOW HAS COVID-19 AFFECTED STATE AND LOCAL BUDGETS?

Many bars, restaurants, malls, and local retail remain closed, as only a few of them are allowed to re-open with reduced hours and limited capacity. This leads to a dramatic reduction in sales taxes which will directly have an impact on state budgets. If we look at the aggregate revenues from taxes and fees on hotels, tolls, and airports – the travel industry is in deep trouble. According to Brookings Papers, sales taxes are expected to decline by $49 billion this year, to $45 billion next year, and to $46 billion in 2022, reflecting lower price levels and an overall decline in consumer goods purchasing.

At the same time, the emergence of unexpected expenditures has strained the budgets of City and State administrators. This due to the need to purchase personal protective equipment and for contracting disinfecting services. And lastly, for increased benefit costs due to the rise in unemployment.

As a result, state and local governments are under tremendous financial pressure. Municipal planners and administrators are faced with difficult decisions regarding supporting services and public spaces.

According to the National League of Cities, a staggering 65% of cities were forced to delay or to completely cancel capital expenditures and infrastructure projects. 24% made significant cuts to community and economic development programs. And more than 13% cut expenses to code inspection, planning, permitting, delaying re-opening, and local businesses’ growth.

Social distancing sign with empty playground.
Photo by Jordan Hopkins

Watching the growing number of COVID-19 infections in Europe and around the world, which might lead to new lockdown measures, we could ask ourselves: What is next? How can local administrations in the US reduce the budget spending and continue to deliver essential services and goods to ensure a certain comfort level of life for their citizens?

Which parks should they close next? Where can they cut back on garbage collection? Which roads should be repaired in which priority? Which public areas need to be staffed? These are just a few examples of the questions being asked to curb spending.

And, are there opportunities? If airlines reduce number of flights, does this open up a window of opportunity for public ground transportation? Can the travel patterns from/to reveal untapped potential?

Location Analytics for Efficient Local Budget Management

AirSage uses mobile signals to track movement patterns and to predict their development based on different variables, like weather, local events, public services, and more. These insights prove to be vital to local governments to make the right, informed decisions. I.e., Visit Penn State uses AirSage data successfully. And many other municipalities and cities are to follow. Because geolocation data helps analyze where their citizens are going, how long they stay, how often, and from where, and what next.

As another example, a local municipal government in the western United States uses spatial data to identify the amenities used in each public parks. With this insight, they know which resting spots, trails, campgrounds, etc. can remain unmanned.

In short, our mobile location intelligence is being used to optimize their budget spending. This same logic can be applied to almost every municipality. Spatial data has changed efficiency for the better, and we would love to show you how.