June 19, 2013 By Tod Newcombe
In his three terms as mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg has a lot of innovative accomplishments under his belt -- more than just about any big city mayor in America, or the world for that matter.
His 311 hotline revolutionized how citizens interact with government by merging new advances in technology with a level of customer service that is rare in the public sector. Bloomberg was the first big city mayor to ban smoking in restaurants and bars, sparking a trend that has swept through most large cities around the globe. He set up a competition to recruit a new applied science campus in the city, and led the way in making New York a leader in sustainability, improving New York's environment while nurturing economic growth. The list goes on.
But the Bloomberg era is drawing to a close as the city gears up to elect a new mayor for the first time since 2002. While many are wondering who the next mayor will be, a lot of academics, policymakers and city watchers are wondering if New York will lose its innovative edge without Bloomberg around.
To counter that problem, the Center for an Urban Future and New York University's Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service have jointly published a report that is designed to give the next mayor of America's largest city a set of innovative reforms that "have proven effective in other cities, that are scalable in New York and that the next mayor could implement."
Neil Kleiman, director of NYU's Wagner Innovation Lab and author of "Innovation and the City," pointed out in the report that Mayor Bloomberg drew inspiration for his innovations from cities around the world. The report follows the same, don't-reinvent-the-wheel approach by drawing on 15 proven reforms from such cities as Chicago, Denver, London and San Francisco.
All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.