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From AI to public art: Big ideas from CityLab 2023

For 10 years, we’ve been having big conversations with mayors, innovators, experts, and activists at Bloomberg CityLab. This week at CityLab 2023 in Washington, D.C., those conversations took stock of a moment unlike anything local leaders have faced in the last decade.

Cities are growing at an unprecedented rate, with more people living in and moving to urban areas than ever before.

Despite — and in some cases because — of that growth, concerns about an inevitable “urban doom loop” are accelerating. Cities continue to confront post-pandemic challenges on everything from crime, housing, immigration, and education, to revitalizing retail and office spaces in urban cores. And they are on the front lines of the global fight against climate change.

Mayors at CityLab 2023, gathered on the roof of the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg Center at 555 Pennsylvania Avenue.

In short, the decisions mayors and their teams make in the years to come will have larger, and longer-lasting repercussions than ever before.

This Impact Newsletter looks back at the big stories from CityLab 2023, and the dozens of presentations and speakers who came to Washington to share their insights. The discussions covered extreme heat, AI, infrastructure, mobility, public art, and much more. There’s a lot to explore below, but a good place to start is our video looking back at 10 years of CityLab.

The Topline
Key data points from CityLab 2023

Helping local leaders share ideas can have a major impact on people’s lives. Just ask anyone who’s used a bike share, called 311, or enjoyed a meal in a smoke-free restaurant — solutions that have spread from city to city around the world in recent years. Over the last decade, bringing people together for CityLab gatherings has “helped change city-to-city dialogue from the exception to the rule,” says Mike, but more needs to be done for mayors to tackle long-standing challenges and manage innovations. To help cities share, test, and replicate proven solutions, we announced the Bloomberg Cities Idea Exchange on day one of CityLab 2023. With a $50 million investment, the Idea Exchange will turbocharge the sharing of solutions, and provide grants, technical assistance, and more to spread good ideas far and wide.

On day two of CityLab 2023, Bloomberg Philanthropies CEO Patti Harris announced the eight winning cities of the third Public Art Challenge. Each U.S. city will receive grants of up to $1 million for temporary public art projects that address an urgent civic issue, with winning projects focusing on challenges related to climate change, equity, food insecurity, gun violence, homelessness, public health, and revitalization. Each city will also receive technical support to execute their projects over the next two years. The eight winning projects come from: Atlanta, Georgia; Baltimore, Maryland; Honolulu, Hawaii; Houston, Texas; Orlando, Florida; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Phoenix, Arizona; and Salt Lake City, Utah.

Generative Artificial Intelligence has the potential to help cities work better. By analyzing vast amounts of data, it can improve emergency responses, mitigate the impact of severe weather events, enhance insights for targeting resources, and more. To maximize the potential and expand the availability of generative artificial intelligence learning for local governments, we launched City AI Connect at CityLab 2023. Cities can connect on the City AI Connect web-based platform to explore, develop, and test new applications for generative AI with peers in other cities.

Watch Panels from Bloomberg CityLab 2023


Welcome to Bloomberg CityLab 2023 | Bloomberg Philanthropies CEO Patti Harris Opening Remarks | A Message from Mike Bloomberg | Bridges to Somewhere: Mitch Landrieu, Senior Advisor and Infrastructure Coordinator at The White House | A Message from Mayors in Israel: Rotem Yadlin, Mayor of Gezer Regional Council and Alon Davidi, Mayor of Sderot | A Conversation with D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser | Will National Investments in Manufacturing Transform Struggling Regions? | Surge and the City: Facing the Ongoing Challenge and Opportunity of Migration, Locally | The Feeling City | African Century | A Conversation with Maryland Governor Wes Moore



Welcome Remarks from Patti Harris, CEO of Bloomberg Philanthropies | The Challenge: Ending Homelessness with Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass | Can Deregulation Help Solve the Housing Crisis? With San Francisco Mayor London Breed | Trust: How Cities Can Build It, Maintain It, and Repair It | City of Joy | The Bus: Mobility’s Unexpected Next Frontier | Making Peace: The Latest in Urban Violence Prevention | How Good Ideas Should Spread



Saviors & Scapegoats: Mayors Under the Microscope | City Leadership in the Era of Climate Extremes | Baltimore & the Squeegee Boys: A Case Study in Early Intervention | Bloomberg Associates CEO George Ferttita on 10 Years of Bloomberg Associates | Things Mayors Should Know: Learnings from a Decade of Consulting | When Extremism Comes to Town | What If Cities Built Their Own Digital Ecosystem? | Transforming Diplomacy, One City at Time | City of Awe



Remarks from U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg | The Infrastructure of Care | Lessons from the Frontier of Government Innovation | D.C. Spotlight: Public Space for the People | Inflection Point: A Conversation with Artist Brandon Hill | From Censored to Celebrated: The Relationship Between Cities and Hip Hop