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Bloomberg partners with selected cities to build back better

Three-year grants will fund innovation teams, or “i-teams,” to help mayors leverage data and digital technologies to enhance public services and create new value for communities.

Reykjavik is one of the cities to benefit from the Bloomberg initiative

Reykjavik is one of the cities to benefit from the Bloomberg initiative

 

Six global cities are to share grants and technical assistance totalling $17m aimed at accelerating their digital transformation to help improve the lives of residents and boost recovery from the global pandemic.

The three-year investment from Bloomberg Philanthropies will fund innovation teams, or “i-teams”, to help mayors in each city leverage data and digital technologies to enhance public services and create new value for communities.

Innovation teams will be funded in six cities (mayors in brackets): Amsterdam, Netherlands (Femke Halsema); Bogotá, Colombia (Claudia López); Mexico City, Mexico (Claudia Sheinbaum); Reykjavík, Iceland (Dagur Eggertsson); San Francisco, California (London Breed); and Washington DC (Muriel Bowser).

Digitally inclusive

These six cities were selected as Bloomberg Philanthropies partners based on the success and ambition of their current digital efforts and their mayors’ commitment to creating more digitally inclusive and connected cities.

“These six cities are already raising the bar for innovation in the public sector,” said Michael Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies and 108th mayor of New York City.

“This investment will help supercharge their work to bring city services into the digital future, deliver better results for residents, and share lessons with other cities around the world.”

According to Bloomberg, City governments often struggle to boldly address issues such as sustainability and economic mobility because responsibility for these concerns spans multiple departments.

“Bogotá is radically changing the way it relates to its citizens and responds to their needs. We are determined to innovate to move towards a collaborative, agile and transparent government model that improves people’s quality of life”

Meanwhile, many city halls lack the staff and internal capacity to rigorously test and adopt new ideas. The i-teams programme was established in 2011 to drive change more effectively, and the teams work to spread a culture of creativity and risk-taking within local government.

This year’s i-team grants are the first to focus specifically on digital innovation, reflecting the important role data and digital services played as cities quickly reconfigured services during the pandemic, as well as the growing demand and interest in cities to build on these gains inclusively.

Each of the six cities will select a high priority challenge or issue for the i-team’s initial focus, such as transforming how residents receive public health services, reducing application times for city-run services, or digitising urban planning processes to increase resident participation.

“The effort to accelerate our digital transformation of public services in Reykjavik is intrinsically linked to our vision of the future as we continue to build a truly liveable city where all citizens have the ability to thrive,” said Dagur Eggertsson, mayor of Reykjavík.

“We are grateful to Bloomberg Philanthropies for this boost to our efforts and are looking forward to the next three years working with and learning from our colleagues in the other great i-teams cities.”

“The effort to accelerate our digital transformation of public services in Reykjavik is intrinsically linked to our vision of the future as we continue to build a truly liveable city where all citizens have the ability to thrive”

“Being one of the Bloomberg Cities i-teams is unprecedented news for Bogotá,” added Claudia López, mayor of Bogotá.

“This support will be fundamental for the digital transformation of our capital city and its consolidation as a smart territory. Bogotá is radically changing the way it relates to its citizens and responds to their needs. We are determined to innovate to move towards a collaborative, agile and transparent government model that improves people’s quality of life.”

Cities’ successes

Bloomberg Philanthropies plans to document and share the cities’ successes and lessons learned so that other cities’ digital innovation efforts can benefit, as well.

Bloomberg Philanthropies reports it has funded i-teams in more than 40 cities around the world to date. The Tel Aviv i-team spurred the creation of ‘Digitaf,’ a programme that expanded and streamlined resident access to early childhood services.

The team in Mobile, Alabama, reduced urban blight by 53 per cent. Meanwhile, teams in Seattle, Long Beach, and Baltimore played central roles in helping mayors respond to the Covid-19 pandemic by working with underserved residents to develop various testing, vaccination, and contact tracing efforts.

Source: Smart Cities World