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Innovation

4 innovative trends making city governments smarter

Despite the harsh fiscal situations that U.S. cities have faced this year, city governments are finding ways to reinvent themselves to run more efficiently and effectively. Find out how.
Written by Tyler Falk, Contributor on

Despite the harsh fiscal situations that U.S. cities have faced this year, city governments are finding ways to reinvent themselves to run more efficiently and effectively.

Out of these tough times, we're seeing more innovation in cities, says Stephen Goldsmith. The former Indianapolis mayor says in Governing Magazine that there are four smart trends playing out among city governments throughout the U.S.

1. Smarter government through analytics - Cities are using their stockpile of data to make more informed decisions on anything from policing to transit.

"Smarter government will capitalize on those trends to use data to prevent problems before they occur, provide insights across operating agencies and allow more targeted use of resources," Goldsmith said.

2. Crowdsourcing - The small fraction of citizens that show up to city meetings are not the only ones who have a vested interest in cities. Cities are looking to a broader citizen base for opinions and insights on the city from the ground level.

"Now, even the unassuming can contribute to the wisdom of the crowd, thanks to an array of new social-networking tools that make it far easier to gather information in a collaborative and dynamic manner rather than merely processing one-way complaints and requests for services," Goldsmith said.

3. Getting more done, with less - Cities are designing innovative programs that are helping cities deal with problems that have plagued them for years.

"Often, as with the issue of brownfields, onerous and costly remedies make action so expensive to urban taxpayers that nothing gets done," Goldsmith said. "Increasingly, however, innovators design programs that forge new partnerships and combine those with new technologies to produce much more for much less."

4. Public-private partnerships - Just because a city can't afford new infrastructure doesn't mean it isn't vital for the community. That's why city governments are partnering with private entities to invest in infrastructure. It saves cities and taxpayers money, not to mention quicker turnaround on projects.

Goldsmith pointed to his former city, Indianapolis, as an example. They took the approach of "combining several utilities under one umbrella, creating synergies among front- and back-office operations, and then inviting private managers to assist public employees," he said. "As a consequence, the city was able to put $200 million into much-needed infrastructure without new fees or taxes."

Let's just hope the innovation doesn't stop when times are more prosperous.

"Out of Desperation, Innovation" [Governing]

Photo: paul (dex)/Flickr

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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