Urban Innovation

Tech in the City

December 15, 2018  • Institute Staff

“How are cities changing, who benefits, and how can we make sure that the most people benefit?” Washington, DC, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Brian Kenner asked at an event hosted by the Institute’s Center for Urban Innovation that explored how digitalization and automation encourages new approaches to city governance. The center’s director, Jennifer Bradley, invited Kenner along with Scott Kratz, the director of the 11th Street Bridge Park, and Stephen Goldsmith, a Harvard professor and the former mayor of Indianapolis, to discuss the opportunities and challenges that tech-enabled city governments face. This new form of urban governance upends traditional bureaucracies and puts citizens at the center of operations, focusing on outcomes and changing the way public employees work. Goldsmith stressed the predictive abilities city governments now have at their disposal and how modeling can advance data-driven policymaking. Kratz emphasized the need for city leaders to listen to communities and build trust. New digital tech can help governments reach and empower underserved communities, but leaders will need to be deliberate in how they use these tools. Otherwise, innovation just might widen equity gaps instead of bridging them.