Improve City Services with Innovation, Technology

(excerpt from:  Using Innovation and Technology to Improve City Services)

Cities are increasingly becoming the public sector service delivery engines in the United States. They have heard a call to action: residents expect cities to find ways to improve services.  And cities are gearing up to do so. City governments, residents, and interest groups are actively seeking methods for better service delivery. This report examines how cities are using innovative policies, governance structures and technologies to improve city services.  The report explores a variety of success factors associated with effective service delivery at the local level, including:

  • The policies, platforms, and applications that cities use for different purposes, such as public engagement, streamlining the issuance of permits, and emergency response
  • How cities can successfully partner with third parties, such as nonprofits, foundations, universities, and private businesses to improve service delivery using technology
  • The types of business cases that can be presented to mayors and city councils to support various changes proposed by innovators in city government

Professor Greenberg identifies a series of trends that drive cities to undertake innovations, such as the increased use of mobile devices by residents. Based on cities’ responses to these trends, she offers a set of findings and specific actions that city officials can act upon to create innovation agendas for their communities. Her report also presents case studies for each of the dozen cities in her review. These cases provide a real-world context, which will allow interested leaders in other cities to see how their own communities might approach similar innovation initiatives.

TRENDS in Local Government:

  • Cities are using new policies and governance structures to eliminate departmental silos and to include the public in policy making and implementation for better city service provision.
  • Cities are using more inclusive governance structures to improve services.
  • Cities are using digital and mobile technologies to improve city services.
  • Cities are using numerous internal and external technology development methods.
  • Cities are using technology as one method for improving service delivery by increasing public engagement and collaboration.
  • Residents are now expecting transparency, accountability, collaboration, and civic engagement with technology from service providers, including easily accessible, exportable data sets with context.
  • Many cities’ constituents are now online and increasingly mobile. The report presents five findings as to how cities are now implementing innovation and new technologies:

FINDINGS of Report on Improving City Services:

  1. Cities need new governing structures for innovation.
  2. Cities need new funding and partnering arrangements.
  3. Cities are leveraging existing technology initiatives to make data more accessible.
  4. Cities are increasing public engagement.
  5. Cities are making performance data accessible.
  6. Cities are enhancing services to residents

 ACTIONS that Enhance Innovative Capabilities:

  1. Look for targets of opportunity
  2. Build capacity “Using Innovation and Technology to Improve City Services“ suggestions; Asset Stewardship suggestions.
  3. Seek internal and external champions
  4. Develop a compelling business case
  5. Formalize new practices with concrete laws and strategies
  6. Foster a culture of creativity and collaboration

 TOP 12 Municipal Models Of Digital Innovation:

  • Austin, Texas;
  • Boston, Massachusetts;
  • Chicago, Illinois;
  • Kansas City, Missouri;
  • Louisville, Kentucky;
  • New York City, New York;
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania;
  • Riverside, California;
  • Salt Lake City, Utah;
  • San Francisco, California;
  • Seattle, Washington;
  • Washington, D.C.
 This post summarizes the 57 page report authored by Sherri R. Greenberg, MSc ,  a Clinical Professor in Public Policy Practice and Fellow of the Max Sherman Chair in State and Local Government at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.  The report was commissioned by IBM Center for the Business of Government.


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