Thursday, June 14, 2012

Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Challenge to find and spread innovative local solutions to national problems.


New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is posting a nationwide challenge to city mayors in order to find and reward ideas that improve city life by addressing a major social or economic issue, improving the customer service experience for citizens or businesses, increasing government efficiency, and/or enhancing accountability, transparency, and public engagement.

The City of Dunwoody, GA started from scratch several years ago and our service delivery motto is really to put proven best practices and the latest technological innovations into place in order best serve the citizens and the businesses within our jurisdiction at the lowest possible cost without jeopardizing the overall level of service.

I can think of so many things that we as a city have done right...
  • Breaking apart our service contracts to various vendors in order to maximize service and minimize price was a risky way to start a city but it worked well and has now been copied by others.
  • We hired and equipped a top notch police force in 90 days.
  • We hire the best and brightest employees and hopefully then get out of their way to do the job.  Along with that goes the responsibility of making sure that that the employees are well served, cared for, compensated and appreciated for the quality service they are expected to provide.
  • As there were no legacy computer systems in place, we decided to invest in a cutting edge back end computer infrastructure that integrates everything from accounting, community development, public works and GIS; whereby man hours are cut and efficiency improved.
  • Having a paperless police and court system where traffic tickets can be uploaded to the servers via a wireless transfer and then be able to be paid online just hours after being issued, 
  • Transparency has been pushed from the city's infancy whereby financial reports with the check register are now published monthly, crime and police calls are published daily, and we have a police department that is pushing more information to social networks than most teenagers with an unlimited data plan would ever dream of doing
We are by no means perfect but I believe we have done many things right, and it is through introspective reflection by always looking to see what could be improved is what I now strive for the City of Dunwoody.  It is  by applying to opportunities like this or the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge or even the Google Fiber Contest that we can stretch our minds to find ways to better serve you the citizens. 

I am not sure if the City will actually take the time to complete the application but it will be reviewed by staff for consideration and then we should circle back in October when the winners are announced to see what best practices others have come up with.  It appears by this job announcement that the City of Atlanta has already focused their efforts in data collection and analysis in order to reduce homelessness and improve employment. 

What could the City of Dunwoody offer up that we have done that others should replicate on a national scale?
Washington Post - New York City’s billionaire mayor is using his personal fortune to try to spark innovation in the nation’s cities — inviting 1,300 mayors to compete for millions of dollars in funding for new programs meant to solve urban challenges and enhance city life.

The mayors of U.S. municipalities with at least 30,000 residents will be asked to join the Mayors Challenge, being launched Wednesday by Bloomberg Philanthropies, which is offering a grand prize of $5 million and four smaller prizes of $1 million. The foundation is asking the mayors to focus on initiatives that could be replicated elsewhere if successful.

Bloomberg, who has said that he plans to focus full-time on his philanthropy after his third term ends in 2013, argued that mayors are better positioned than community organizations, governors and even presidents to make a difference when it comes to delivering services.
“Governors and presidents redistribute and work at a different level, a policy level. Mayors have to get stuff done,” Bloomberg said. “Organizations tend to talk a lot, and some do some things. Mayors don’t have that option. Mayors, if you don’t deliver something, you are out of office pretty quickly.”

The challenge is part of the philanthropy’s Mayors Project, which has already paid to install teams in Atlanta, Chicago, Louisville, Memphis and New Orleans to work on initiatives in areas including small-business growth and crime reduction. Under the $24 million initiative, the teams report directly to the mayors of those cities.

Applications for the Mayors Challenge will be due Sept. 14, and winners will be announced in May after teams from finalist cities attend an “Ideas Camp” at which they can refine their proposals.

Under the contest rules, cities must propose ideas that improve “city life by addressing a major social or economic issue, improving the customer service experience for citizens or businesses, increasing government efficiency, and/or enhancing accountability, transparency, and public engagement,” according to the foundation.

3 comments:

Andy said...

Nice gesture on Bloomberg's part, but I would bot accept a penny from him. He is anti-gun and wants to restrict law abiding citizens from owning guns. For every dollar awarded by Bloomberg, expect an equal number of rules and restrictions on how it is spent. Keep your money Bloomberg, the people of Dunwoody are not for sale.

Andy said...

Nice gesture on Bloomberg's part, but I would not accept a penny from him. He is anti-gun and wants to restrict law abiding citizens from owning guns. For every dollar awarded by Bloomberg, expect an equal number of rules and restrictions on how it is spent. Keep your money Bloomberg, the people of Dunwoody are not for sale.

GaryRayBetz said...

Mr. Heneghan,

Thank-you for posting this information as well your well-considered and principled vote in council.

gary ray betz