When one of the largest California wildfires on record broke out in 2013, raging for more than two months and threatening San Francisco's water supply coming from Yosemite, firefighters used drones to get aerial shots of the blaze and determine the best points of entry. Now those drones have come down from the mountains and into the city.
In Los Angeles the city's firefighters and sewer managers are using drones to perform dangerous work.
No matter the problem, local governments are increasingly turning to technology for the solution.
LA traffic planners analyzed data on pedestrian and cyclist fatalities to pinpoint the most dangerous intersections and then added bike lanes and posted officers there during rush hour.
To combat gun violence, the city of Boston installed a sensor-based gunfire detection system that can alert officers to precise crime scenes within seconds.
Across the United States and the globe, a push to innovate and build smart, technologically advanced cities has transformed the way governments approach public service. It's also transforming their budget and hiring priorities.
"We want more people who are drone operators, interested in robotics and understand data analytics and visualization," said Jeanne Holm, who this past summer was appointed to the position of senior technology advisor to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. "We are in a hiring mode and recruiting heavily," Holm told CNBC.