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Municipal government

As Nutter transitions out, City of Philadelphia tops annual Digital Cities Survey

The award from the Center for Digital Government recognizes the city's efforts in transparency and its 'infrastructure of innovation'

Jonathan Zwas Amar, head of growth and cofounder at remodelmate. (Photo by Koby Wexler)

In the lingering months of the Mayor Nutter’s two-term tenure, the City of Philadelphia has earned a pair of national awards related to its new approaches to civic engagement — a former city official once called it “civic fusion.”
The honors, both for digital inclusion and innovation programming, named as the city as a Leader in Digital Inclusion for its KEYSPOT program and gave the city top place in the Center for Digital Government (CDG) 2015 Digital Cities Survey.
The Nutter administration is no stranger to this annual survey— which recognizes how cities implement and use technology to better serve their communities —and has placed 2nd and 4th in previous years. Going out on top is a nice culmination for a Nutter administration that has put considerable public attention on its new approaches for outreach and engagement. The city was cited for its portfolio of maturing public-private partnerships and unique outreach efforts — think about its Innovation Lab, for instance.
That’s one reason why next week’s Rise conference on civic innovation makes sense to take place here.
“The reason we finished high and have for the last couple years, I think , is that [the surveying group CDG] recognized our ability to balance what we have to do,” said Andrew Buss, the city’s Director of Innovation Management at the Office of Innovation and Technology, “and what we have traditionally done for city departments, with new things which are geared more toward connecting technology and the public.”
Philadelphia programs like its efforts in open data and analytics, a citizen-focused website as well as it’s US2020 STEM mentoring program were all cited as key elements for this award in the city’s press release.
“To me, the award was a nice reflection of the overall organization’s progress.” said Buss
It’s the city’s focus on ensuring they have capacity to efficiently run their current programs that allows them room to continue expanding and developing new things, said Buss.
One of the things the Office of Innovation and Technology  is currently working on —  which according to Buss could have lasting potential— is around the idea of innovation consulting. The hope is to create a network of innovators within city government that could help with internal projects. Instead of bringing in outside companies, the plan would be to tap the city’s innovation Academy and bring that knowledge to the outside.
Want to hear more about the city’s innovation plans and how they do it? Come here Andrew Buss talk at  Rise Conference 2015, taking place next week. If you’re wondering if all of these efforts will stick with the mayoral transition, ask Mayor Elect Jim Kenney, who will also be there.

Companies: City of Philadelphia / Division of Technology
People: Andrew Buss / Michael Nutter

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