Stephanie Miner is serious about finding inventive ways to tackle the challenges her city faces. In her two terms as mayor of Syracuse, New York, her bold leadership has helped the city gain the upper hand on its 500 miles of centuries-old water infrastructure. Through a partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Innovation Teams (i-teams) program, Syracuse has analyzed data from as far back as the 1800s to predict water-main failures and, with that insight, preemptively – and more efficiently – fix rapidly failing pipes. By using a new approach, Syracuse has experienced an 18 percent decline in water-main breaks and is saving more than $430,000 in annual repairs.
In the seven years since he took office, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu has proven the power of bold leadership, including an 18 percent drop in the murder rate, 16 percent decrease in unemployment among working-age African-American men, and numerous public-private partnerships that extended prosperity to new corners of the city. His city was also selected as one of five in the first cohort of the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Innovation Teams program and is currently participating in What Works Cities.
Rolled out last November, “CapeConnect” allows residents to identify a specific piece of road – either by parcel, street or cross streets – that need immediate attention from city crews. Cape Coral officials outlined their initial success with the app at the second annual What Works Cities Summit in New York City on March 27-28. Residents can also call an information hotline in addition to using the app.
Stockholm, Sweden celebrated the opening of an innovative new biochar facility that will work wonders in the city’s effort to fight climate change. A first-of-its-kind project, the facility turns plant waste from parks and homes – everything from grass clippings to trees and limbs – into carbon-capturing charcoal that residents can then use in their window boxes and gardens to promote plant growth. Biochar is a powerful soil conditioner, it decreases carbon-dioxide levels in the atmosphere and, through its production, it will even create enough energy to provide heat and hot water for more than 80 apartments in the city.
By James Anderson, Government Innovation at Bloomberg Philanthropies
Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Aspen Institute just concluded two inspiring days of discussion on cities and the transition to autonomous vehicles – a reality that’s no longer in the distant future. This convening, which brought together city officials with leading voices from the auto industry, tech and innovation sectors, social justice organizations and academia, was the first major step of the Bloomberg Aspen Initiative on Cities and Autonomous Vehicles. Through this year-long effort, we’ll work with 10 leading cities to help accelerate and strengthen their efforts to prepare for the challenges ahead, while also sharing what we learn with a broader community of cities across the globe. Our work is just starting, but I came away from our conversations with five key insights.
By Kathleen Carlson, Bloomberg Philanthropies Government Innovation program
Public service is – in my opinion – a job everyone should hold at least once in their lives. It offers the incredible opportunity to make real change where you live, impact the lives of millions of citizens, and turn the idea of “uninspired government bureaucrats” on its head.
By Anne Emig, Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Government Innovation program
Since 2013, hundreds of cities around the world have competed in Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge by proposing bold new ideas that solve urban challenges, improve city life – and have the potential to spread.
By Garnesha Crawford, Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Government Innovation team
Last week, Bloomberg Philanthropies convened 100 leaders from 20 city teams in Bogotá, Colombia to challenge the ideas they developed to improve city life in Latin America and the Caribbean. Each team is in the race for five awards as part of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge – an ideas competition that invites hundreds of cities within a region to define a serious problem within their city, and then develop a bold, new idea to solve it.
By Katie Appel Duda, Bloomberg Philanthropies Government Innovation team
How can City Halls go beyond business as usual? It can start with a conversation. Having frank discussions with cities facing similar challenges is one of the best ways local governments can share ideas and spread their most innovative practices.
Beth Blauer, Executive Director, Johns Hopkins University Center for Government Excellence
In 2003 I was working as a juvenile probation officer in suburban Washington, DC. I was an intake worker responsible for deciding if children who were accused of breaking the law should be referred for prosecution, should be detained in a detention facility, or could go home with their family while receiving services or awaiting trial. At the time, these decisions were based on a 30-minute interview with the family and a police report. I had no idea whether the child had been in school that day, whether there was a social worker involved in that family’s life, whether there was food in the house. The information was limited and if you tried to find more, you were faced with endless barriers and systemic excuses. It was an injustice that was deeply troubling and one that I would ultimately focus my career on unraveling.