Two U.S. cities receive global Bloomberg Philanthropies innovation grant
Building on lessons learned during the pandemic, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, are among six international cities receiving $17 million from Bloomberg Philanthropies intended to help mayors better leverage data and emerging technology for their communities.
The other four cities are Amsterdam; Bogotá, Colombia; Mexico City; and Reykjavík, Iceland. The grant will be distributed among the six cities over the next three years to fund innovation teams, or “i-teams,” and is intended to accelerate “digital transformation to improve the lives of residents and boost recovery from the COVID-19 global pandemic,” according to a press statement released Tuesday.
The Bloomberg Philanthropies i-teams program 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.
Through the funding, the selected cities will be able to hire innovation specialists and access coaching and expertise. Reporting to the city mayor, the i-teams will work with people across city government and with residents to understand challenges faced by their city and develop solutions. Each city was chosen based on its current digital efforts and the mayors’ commitment to creating more digitally inclusive and connected cities.
“We are proud, with the support of Bloomberg Philanthropies, to launch an innovation team in the capital of inclusive innovation,” said Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser.
During the pandemic, Bowser said Washington, D.C.’s 37,000-member government “rose to incredible challenges to not only protect our community but continue providing world-class city services. Now, as we make our comeback, the i-team will help us recover stronger and deliver that better normal we know is possible.”
In responding to the COVID-19 crisis in San Francisco, Mayor London Breed said his city “experienced tremendous success by following the data and science to help protect public health. … Our data-driven approach helped us deliver better services and build trust at a very challenging time for our city.”
Breed said San Francisco will use the grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies to “build off the lessons learned from COVID and improve how San Francisco serves all of its residents, and create a more efficient, accessible and equitable government as we emerge from this pandemic.”
This year’s i-team grants are the first to focus specifically on digital innovation, reflecting the 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. Since the program’s inception, Bloomberg Philanthropies has funded i-teams in more than 40 cities around the world.
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 digitizing urban planning processes to increase resident participation. Bloomberg Philanthropies will document and share successes and lessons learned, so that other cities’ digital innovation efforts can benefit, as well.