The Mayor’s Challenge is a contest run by Bloomberg Philanthropies to find the best ideas bubbling out of our cities–from data mining to turning foreclosed houses into urban farms.
It’s a theme that we’ve touched on over and over at Co.Exist: Cities are in a better position to enact real change than a stagnant federal government. Across the U.S., cities are coming up with replicable ideas that can change the way we all live for the better.
Bloomberg Philanthropies, a philanthropic organization created by New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg, is fueling 20 of the best ideas with the Mayor’s Challenge, a competition for local governments to improve the way their cities work by taking on social and economic problems, improving customer service, enhancing accountability to the public, and making make government work more effectively.
The competition, which was open to all U.S. cities with at least 30,000 residents, saw 305 applications pour in. ” We wanted to see ideas that were bold and visionary, had a meaningful implementation plan, the potential for breadth or depth of impact, replicability, and were responsive to issues many cities face,” explains James Anderson, the head of the Government Innovation program at Bloomberg Philanthropies. The 20 finalists that were ultimately chosen came from cities as diverse as Houston, Texas; Phoenix, Arizona; and Santa Monica, California.
Chicago’s Bloomberg-worthy idea: creating an open-source analytics program for the city’s numerous data sources. “At a real high-level, the idea is that the city has enormous amounts of data, and lots of systems ranging from 311 to licensing to 911. Historically they have remained quite siloed. What we’ve been doing over the past year is starting to bring all this data together,” says Brett Goldstein, Chicago’s first Chief Data Officer.
That sounds at first blush like what a lot of cities are trying to do with their data. But Chicago’s open-source idea has a twist–it will be the first system that can conduct real-time pattern detection using data that comes in from disparate data sources. Most municipalities have all sorts of different legacy systems (like 911 and 311), and typically, governments try to standardize them across the enterprise. That’s a pricey way to go, though. Instead, says Goldstein, Chicago is taking a big data platform, putting it in the middle of all these legacy systems, and extracting data rapidly from the different sources. “It’s the idea of creating a platform with data of all shapes and sizes,” explains Goldstein.
via FastCoExist – Ariel Schwartz
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