Gilbert Innovation Peers

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Gilbert Innovation Peers, Part 1

Some examples of American cities that are leaders in innovative civic engagement and the use of technology are San Diego, CA with 'Get It Done' and New Rochelle, NY with the augmented reality app. More information about the aforementioned cities' innovative programs is outlined below.

San Diego, CA

  • In 2016, the city of San Diego, California introduced a mobile app called 'Get It Done' that enables the townspeople to report non-emergency problems to the city of San Diego. The citizen may take a picture of the problem and upload it into the app to automatically update 'Get It Done' the problem report with the location information.
  • This city was acknowledged as the first-place winner in the Center for Digital Government's 19th annual Digital Cities Survey in 2019 for utilizing technology to serve citizens faster, more accurately, and more efficiently. The usage of the mobile app will ease the city government to work together with the townspeople to promote the security and quality of life within the community.
  • The citizen of San Diego can report various problems, ranging from potholes, graffiti, abandoned vehicles, illegal dumping, illegal encampments, to illegal electric scooters. The City Officials are planning to upgrade the mobile app to enable the residents to report complaints related to parks, such as broken fountains and dogs without leashes, as well as detailed reports.
  • Kevin Faulconer, the Mayor of San Diego, initially launched this innovative initiative to eliminate the urge to call the City Council just to report a problem and create an easy solution for the townspeople who wish to issue a complaint regarding the city.
  • This initiative targets all residents of San Diego. As the usage of the mobile app is rising, the City Officials prepare a Spanish version of 'Get It Done' for San Diego residents who prefer that language.
  • The mobile app has been downloaded more than 100,000 times with 12,500 active users each month. The number of the complaint filed has risen from 45,000 in 2016 to 144,000 in 2017, then to 201,000 in 2018 and 362,000 in 2019, which is equivalent to almost 1,000 per day.

New Rochelle, NY

  • In 2018, the officials of New Rochelle, NY introduced an open-source augmented reality app that allows the citizens and visitors of the city to "learn about new and ongoing projects and to participate in the development and approval processes." The citizens are allowed to see presentations about the proposed projects, vote on the proposals, and submit comments.
  • This city's initiative was acknowledged as one of the winners of Bloomberg Philanthropies' Mayors Challenge in 2018 for pursuing innovative ideas while enabling the residents to visualize the city projects and participate in choices about planning and development.
  • Ralph DiBart, the Executive Director of the New Rochelle Business Improvement District, proposed the idea of creating a public-facing virtual reality app due to the lack of access for citizens to visualize and interact with the city development projects. This app will also allow residents to give their feedback on the project.
  • During an event to test out the prototype augmented reality technology at the New Rochelle Grand Market, there were hundreds of people, ranging from young children, elderly, and disabled people, who were excited to interact with the technology. The augmented reality app also allows the users to see the imaginary park in real-time and add a virtual tree, swing set, bench, or other objects by touching the screen. Visitors may also "stroll" around the park and draw hearts on the area of the virtual park they like the most.
  • This program targets all residents of New Rochelle, NY, although visitors of the town also may try the augmented reality program.

Research Strategy

To collect information about the Gilbert Innovation Peers, we first browsed through media publications and news articles related to the innovative US cities that had won prestigious awards in the past two years, in which we successfully managed to find (1, 2). We carefully selected the cities that involved technology and civic engagement in their initiatives. In addition, although San Diego released the 'Get It Done' app in 2016, the innovative program was granted as the first-place winner of a respectable award in 2019 and the number of people using this app kept rising every year. Therefore, we assumed that San Diego's program was still considered relevant to be added to this list. While the LinkedIn profiles Kevin Faulconer and Ralph DiBart were unavailable, we attached the official website of Faulconer that provided his personal, educational, and career background, and New Rochelle's Local Planning Committee Members website page that showed DiBart's brief profile.
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Gilbert Innovation Peers, Part 2

Some examples of American cities that are leaders in innovative civic engagement and the use of technology are Raleigh, NC, Tulsa, and Louisville, KY.

1. Raleigh, N.C.

  • The city of Raleigh, N.C., is utilizing technology to advance civic engagement through InVision Raleigh, which is a web-based 3D tool that allows the locals to visualize and interact with the proposed changes in their city.
  • The city provides government staff and the public with location-based data that can be viewed online or downloaded as detailed custom maps, including buildings, parks and zoning.
  • Raleigh, N.C. was chosen for this list, as it has been a recipient of the Benton award for leadership and dedication in advancing digital equity.
  • The city chose to work with California-based mapping and geospatial analytics software company, Esri, to come up with a prototype that could bring urban planning to simulated life.
  • James Alberque, the Emerging Technology Manager at City of Raleigh, along with Perver Baran, PhD, Teaching Associate Professor at the Center for Geospatial Analytics at North Carolina State University, lead the initiative for the city.
  • As an informational civic technology application, the initiative targets the immediate community of Raleigh, including government staff and the public as well as commercial software developers.

2. Louisville, KY

  • One of its flagship initiative is a new type of community center known as The Gigabit Experience Center, which is located in the city’s long underserved West End, providing access to free high-speed internet.
  • Although approximately 94% of Americans have web access today, many low-and middle-income families have slow and unreliable connections.
  • The Gigabit Center helps to ease this often overlooked digital inequity as well as give locals an inviting place to congregate and share ideas about improving their community.
  • Grace Simrall, Louisville’s chief of civic innovation and technology at Louisville Metro Government, is leading the initiative for the city.
  • Louisville, KY was chosen for this list as it has been a recipient of the Engaged Cities Award, which focuses on government initiatives that aim to partner with their residents in the interest of improving communities.
  • The initiative targets low-and middle-income families who have no access to potentially life-altering opportunities online such as applying for jobs, acquiring new job skills, and earning a degree.
  • With the space, the city is also looking to leverage its local tech talent. At a civic hackathon last year, coders, designers, and urbanists tackled low voter registration and other problems.

3. Tulsa, Oklahoma

  • Tulsa, Oklahoma is another example of an American city that is a leader in innovative civic engagement and the use of technology.
  • One of its flagship programs is the Urban Data Pioneers program, which was geared towards encouraging city staffers and residents to use their skills in data visualization, coding and geographic information systems to help Tulsa tackle community challenges.
  • Tulsa, Oklahoma was chosen for this list, as it has been a recipient of the Engaged Cities Award for its Urban Data Pioneers program.
  • James Wagner, chief of Performance Strategy and Innovation, leads the Urban Data Pioneers program from within a unique city hall department whose mission is to harness data for civic innovation.
  • This initiative targets city staffers and residents in an effort to help them identify problems affecting the community and come up with visual analytic solutions.
  • Urban Data Pioneers’ goal is for teams to learn data analysis techniques and provide actionable information that can enable the mayor and city leaders to make policy decisions.
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Gilbert Innovation Peers, Part 3

Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Boston, Massachusetts, are some additional examples of American cities that are leaders in innovative civic engagement and the use of technology.

Ann Arbor, Michigan

  • In the year 2012, officials from Ann Arbor, Michigan, pursued a method for integrating public feedback into customer service and maintenance systems. The officials noticed that a platform such as SeeClickFix was capable of decreasing service costs to $2 for every issue, down from the regular price of $4.
  • SeeClickFix operates as a digital communications system business that runs a "smooth web and mobile app services" that help users in communicating non-emergency concerns to local governments.
  • Via SeeClickFix, Ann Arbor launched the A2 Fix It app which residents utilize to report a considerable amount of complaints to the city authority, including vandalism, potholes, snow/ice removal, unwanted graffiti, dead trees, trash on lawns, and streetlight outages.
  • In 2019, the city council entered a three-year deal with SeeClickFix, costing over $40,000.
  • According to data accumulated by SeeClickFix, the city serves as one of the ten "most engaged and responsive local governments." Among the most responsive local governments, it was ranked number eight, completing over 12,000 requests during 2018.
  • In 2018, residents of Ann Arbor submitted the ninth highest volume of requests per capita through the online service portal or mobile app.
  • Ann Arbor has set up a committee to draft proposals meant to enhance the quality of the app. The group aims to handle changes in data collection and to improve usage of the system by training workers.
  • The initiative targets residents of Ann Arbor, Michigan.
  • Individuals can attain the A2 Fix It App for mobile devices via either the Google Play Store or the Apple App​Store.

Boston, Massachusetts

  • Boston significantly invested in upgrading the city's work order management and 24-hour call center networks in late 2009.
  • The city was an early starter in crafting mobile applications to advance service delivery when it launched Citizens Connect, now called BOS:311, in 2009 through a partnership with Connected Bits, a local tech firm. Residents are able to submit complaints and photos to the city using the free Citizen Connect app to resolve concerns (e.g., vandalized property, potholes).
  • Citizen Connect uploads work requests into proper town employees' to-do lists in under a minute. Upon the completion of the job, the user is sent a text message. They can also observe a built-in map that exhibits their work request's status.
  • Users of the app can also "share their reports with other users and even tweet them from within the application."
  • Nigel Jacob and Kristopher Carter led the initiative. They co-chair the mayor’s office of new urban mechanics, which conducts research to create a network of civic innovation laboratories that spans the globe and enables the city to collaborate on the development of new types of civic technologies.
  • Nigel Jacob's LinkedIn is available here. Kristopher Carter's LinkedIn is available here.
  • According to Nigel Jacob, "the real goal of the app is to be where people are as they are moving through the city, and to partner with the city at the point of viewing whatever the issue is." The initiative targets residents of Boston, Massachusetts, as part of the plan to determine how the area was applying data to enhance the quality of services provided for them.
  • Since 2011, Citizen Connect has attained about 12,000 downloads, while the app has been accessed over 50,000 different times. Boston was crowned with the title of the "#1 Digital City in America" by
  • According to the Boston Globe, since 2010, service requests reaching the Ann Arbor's constituent service program have increased by 35%. This rise was primarily bolstered by a surge in requests submitted by the application's users.
  • The app has a 3.9 rating in the Google Play Store. The app has a rating of 2.9 out of 5 stars in the Apple Store.
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Gilbert Innovation Peers, Part 4

Chicago in Illinois and Philadelphia in Pennsylvania are additional examples of American cities that are leaders in innovative civic engagement and the use of technology. Details are presented below.

Chicago, Illinois

  • As the first US city to appoint a Chief Data Officer position in 2011, Chicago is a leader in open data and the development of an open data repository.
  • Bloomberg Philanthropies gave Chicago a $1 million grant for the development of an open-source, predictive analytics platform, the SmartData Platform. Its first tool to be developed is WindyGrid, a computer application program developed for city personnel, that makes Chicago’s big data easily and strategically accessible in one place.
  • WindyGrid incorporates data collected in over three dozen of systems within city departments such as health inspections, non-emergency 311 calls, 911 calls, and building permits. Then, these are integrated with data from other sources, such as weather data and tweets, to provide a holistic view of the city.
  • It provides the city staff with three main functions: situational awareness and tracking of events, historical data collection, and sophisticated real-time analytics.
  • The application can show in real-time where police, fire, and ambulance vehicles are and then plot reported potholes and status of each complaint. Its visualization tool plots food inspections on a map where users can click on each dot to read the results of each inspection and also filter by failed inspections.
  • According to Tom Schenk, former Chicago’s chief data officer, "We didn’t just want to create a fancy map, but use it to drive operations."
  • A new version of WindyGrid is released by the city every two to three months and consistently pushes out new features, such as the bubble maps, which are then added to OpenGrid.
  • Chicago's first Chief Data Officer, Brett Goldstein launched the initiative in 2012. His LinkedIn account can be accessed here.
  • WindyGrid has aided Chicago in the damage assessment process during storms and other environmental incidents by tracking downed trees and wires, storm and flood damage, and other crucial information.
  • The application has been used by city staff to monitor several major events including the 2012 NATO summit, Gay Pride Parade in 2012, Chicago’s annual events including the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Taste of Chicago, and Air and Water Show.
  • Chicago has been recognized by fDi Intelligence as a US City of the Future and was also recognized by InformationWeek Government as one of the Top 10 Government IT Innovators.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

  • The City of Philadelphia launched FastFWD, a partnership between the city, GoodCompany Ventures, and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Social Impact Initiative, in March 2013 after winning a $1 million implementation prize from the Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge.
  • The challenge is aimed to inspire American cities to generate innovative ideas that solve major challenges and improve city life.
  • Formerly known as the Philadelphia Social Enterprise Partnership, FastFWD is an initiative that is aimed at recruiting and supporting entrepreneurs in developing solutions to urban challenges. In its inaugural year, FastFWD focused on public safety.
  • Mayor Michael A. Nutter officially launched FastFWD. His LinkedIn account can be accessed here.
  • According to Mayor Michael Nutter, "Through [FastFWD], our goal is to explore innovative new approaches to issues affecting cities across the country and ultimately to improve the quality of life for our residents."
  • First-class startups for the FastFWD program were geared towards solutions for public safety and provided access to city data, its officials, and $10,000 to support projects based in Philadelphia.

Startups Selected For The Inaugural FastFWD
  • The 10 startups selected for the inaugural FastFWD cohort and its strategic urban development ventures were:
    • Safecity: It is an online crowd-mapping tool that collates personal stories of sexual harassment and abuse.
    • Village Defense: It provides a real-time Amber Alert-style system for neighborhoods. After calling 911, suspicious activity is reported to its 24/7 hotline. Its operators take the descriptions and alert the entire community simultaneously via text message, voice call, and email within seconds.
    • Jail Education Solutions: It aims to reduce recurrence and increase job opportunities for inmates through tablet technology that allows for self-driven education.
    • Other startups are Shift_Design, InLiquid, Algorhythm, Legal Science Partners, Media In Neighborhoods Group, Textizen, and D8A.
  • Philadelphia was recognized by the Public Technology Institute with a Technical Solutions Award for its outstanding application of information technology with the Philly311 app.
  • The city also won the GovFresh Award and Digital Cities award.
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Gilbert Innovation Peers, Part 5

Riverside, California, and Seattle, Washington, are additional examples of American cities that are leaders in innovative civic engagement and the use of technology.

Riverside, California

  • In the year 2014, Riverside, California, launched a brand-new website concentrating on citizen engagement and open data called Engage Riverside.
  • Riverside says that the site offers access to around 815,000 various records with 3.4 million pages of data sets and facts that people or journalists would like to know about.
  • According to Mayor Rusty Bailey, "EngageRiverside is neither the beginning nor the end of our ongoing effort to improve transparency, but it is an important step forward."
  • There are sections on the site for board and council meeting agendas/info, election results, city records, a fraud hotline, budget and finance, departmental results, general open data, maps.
  • There is a section titled "Share Your Ideas" that links visitors to a tool referred to as Mind Mixer, permitting "direct, two-way communication between residents and city officials."
  • Lea Dessing, the city's chief innovation officer, helped launch the initiative. She led a group of city administrative officials and developers collaborating on the project. Lea Deesing's LinkedIn is available here.
  • Its City Council approved an open data proclamation in 2017. This declaration formalized its devotion to a bill to proactively distribute open data and permit free public access.
  • The site attained nearly 83,000 page views in its first month and 400,000 in total from 2012 to 2014.
  • Riverside has been recognized by the Intelligent Community Forum "as an Intelligent Community of the Year," while the Center for Digital Government named it the "Best of the Web." It also received the Digital Cities award.

Seattle, Washington

  • Seattle utilizes data and technology in crime prevention with the development of a program by the Seattle Police Department called SeaStat, which applies community input and crime data to distribute resources.
  • The program's central concept is that police departments maintain a considerable volume of data gathered over the years for each block and neighborhood within a city. The use of this pre-existing information enables predictions to be made, and police cruisers are able to patrol sections that fit certain characteristics to help prevent crimes.
  • This program employs a multi-perspective strategy, where predictive analytics expands beyond pre-existing data and concentrates on forecasting future trends and probabilities by using observed occurrences.
  • Analysts use the SeaStat’s dashboard, which gathers, exhibits, and addresses data trends, to identify developments, "dig deeper into problem areas, and provide a forum for data-driven conversations with commanders in the precinct."
  • Kathleen M. O'Toole, the then chief of police for the Seattle Police Department (SPD) launched the initiative. Kathleen M. O'Toole's profile for Seattle University is available here.
  • She led the SPD in producing micro-community policing plans (MCPPs) that were crafted with the assistance of neighborhood leaders to establish priorities and goals unique to every community.
  • The 2016 budget speech of Mayor Murray outlined the work that the city completed with GovEx to develop its accountability structure and efficiency, along with his commitment towards improving transparency by bestowing the Seattle community and residents with more data.
  • Due to many elements that can be replicated, SeaStat produced and exhibited actual results in crime reduction almost instantly. To inform its analysis, it has gathered feedback and data from sources that are community-based and non-traditional, including social media (Facebook) and
  • Besides strengthening the quality of interactions, SeaStat has encouraged improvements in organizational culture. Its public dashboard empowers the program's sustainability by sharing progress and achievements with the community.
  • Car thefts decreased from 3,407 (August 2014) to 2,214 (August 2015), falling by 35% over the period. Also, the city has won the "Best of Web" recognition from the Center for Digital Government, while also winning the Digital Cities award.

Research Strategy:

To unearth the LinkedIn profile for Kathleen M. O'Toole, we tried to go through her CV and professional profile for Seattle University. There were other details about her professional career/life, but nothing concerning her social media handles profiles was available in the public domain.
We also searched for her other social media handles, including Twitter and Facebook, and we explored social media analytic platforms such as SimilarWeb and Klear to see if we could pull her LinkedIn profile. However, we mostly came across pseudo accounts on Twitter pretending to be Kathleen M. O'Toole with only a single follower. The account also did not have her Linkedin profile information.

We concluded that a popular figure such as herself would not have an account with only one follower. Also, we believed that as a former security personnel with the Seattle Police Department, she would not offer extensive information on her life via social media platforms.
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Gilbert Innovation Peers, Part 6

Columbus, Ohio, and Palm Coast, Florida are additional examples of American cities that are leaders in innovative civic engagement and the use of technology.

Columbus, Ohio

  • The City of Columbus is utilizing technology to enhance innovative civic engagement through the MYCOLUMBUS app. The app, which was launched in 2011, allows the locals and visitors to receive city services remotely on their mobile devices.
  • Residents can access the city's news feeds, access COTA bus schedules, and view health inspections of local restaurants, spas, pools, and tattoo parlors.
  • MYCOLUMBUS app includes 311 services through which citizens can report requests such as recycling, trash, fire hydrant repairs, potholes, graffiti, among others, and also can track the status of the city service requests.
  • App users do not only watch live government access channel — CTV, videos of city council meetings and others, but can also access other mayoral initiatives such as My Neighborhood, Get Active, and Get Green.
  • Mayor Michael B. Coleman led the MYCOLUMBUS app initiative for "improving city-to-resident communication" and also to enhance "the quality of life of the Columbus residents."
  • Mayor Michael B. Coleman's LinkedIn page is available here.
  • The mobile app is available through Google Play Store and Apple's App Store. The app has been downloaded more than 10,000 times through Google Play Store.
  • Since Launch, MYCOLUMBUS app received several awards and recognition, which include Honors Award Laureate by Computerworld magazine, CITE Award for Best Customer App, and the Most Intelligent Community in the World.

Palm Coast, Florida

  • In June 2019, The City of Palm Coast introduced the "Palm Coast Connect" website and app, which enables residents to report community-wide issues 24/7.
  • Through this app, users can take a picture of any issue they want to be addressed and upload it into the app to quickly get a response. They can also track the issue and communicate with city officials.
  • Palm Coast Connect website and app internally automate work orders and collaborate with multiple city department software and also provide real-time emerging trends through dashboard analytics.
  • Mayor Holland led the "Palm Coast Connect" community engagement initiative by partnering with Salesforce, the top customer engagement platform to "set a new standard for communication excellence" in Palm Coast.
  • Mayor Holland's LinkedIn page is available here.
  • The mobile app is available through the Google Play Store and Apple's App Store. This app has a 4.5 rating on App Store and 3.4 ratings on Google Play Store, with more than 500 downloads since 2019.

From Part 06
  • "This app is one piece of the foundation of a strategic mobile program for the City of Columbus. With smart phone use already at 50% for much of the US, the Columbus App was the obvious next-step in improving city-to-resident communication"
  • "Since its launch in 2011, the City of Columbus, Department of Technology has been recognized as a 2013 Honors Award Laureate by ComputerWorld magazine, won the 2014 CITE Award for Best Customer App, and the progress on the app helped Columbus win the title of The Most Intelligent Community in the World in June of 2015."
  • "The App puts City Services at the fingertips of residents and visitors, bringing to life many of Mayor Michael B. Coleman’s mayoral initiatives to improve the quality of life of the Columbus residents."
  • "Additionally, users can stream live video of City Council meetings, press conferences, and key City initiatives via government access channel CTV, Columbus Television."
  • ""We're focused on making City government more accessible to our growing community, and this makes us available to residents 24/7," said Palm Coast Mayor Milissa Holland. "
  • ""We are empowering residents to use Palm Coast Connect to be our eyes and ears in the community - let us know when you see an issue that needs to be addressed. This will help us respond more quickly and improve our customer service overall.""
  • "In a first-of-its-kind partnership in the State of Florida, the City of Palm Coast and well-respected national high tech firm Coastal Cloud have harnessed the power of Salesforce, the No. 1 Customer Engagement Platform in the world, to create Palm Coast Connect."