Andy Berke

Mayor

Chattanooga, TN

Born and raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Andy Berke served as the 10th District State Senator from 2007 to 2012 before becoming the 65th Mayor of Chattanooga in 2013. As Mayor, Andy Berke established Chattanooga's Innovation District and works to ensure digital equity through initiatives like Netbridge, which provides public school students access to access to high speed Internet at home for the lowest price permitted by state law, as well as the nationally-recognized program, Tech Goes Home. Andy Berke has made early childhood development a priority, establishing the first Office of Early Learning in Chattanooga City government and launching a Baby University to create more opportunities for children between the ages of 0 and 5 years old. Because of these initiatives as well as his focus on safer streets, growing middle class jobs, strengthening neighborhoods and more, Andy Berke was named 2015's Municipal Leader of the Year by American City & County Magazine.

Pro-Growth Progressive Ideas Shared

Problem

By providing access to information, connecting people to businesses, and opening up new markets, the internet is changing the economy and supporting economic development. Yet nearly 30 percent of American households do not have Internet access, according to a recent report by the U.S. Census Bureau. Those Americans with no online connectivity are disproportionately old, black or Hispanic, poorly educated, and low income. In order for cities to remain competitive in the increasingly digital world, the internet must be accessible to all residents, not just those who live in digital gated communities.

Solution

Through a coordinated approach, Mayor Andy Berke is leading an initiative to connect more people to high speed broadband to unlock the potential of all Chattanoogans. In April 2015, Mayor Berke announced that the City’s municipally owned electric utility, EPB, would offer low-cost, ultra high speed broadband to low-income families. In addition to increasing access to the internet, the City partnered with a local nonprofit to offer classes around the community aimed at increasing online usage and digital literacy. Participants in the program receive guidance on how to submit a resume online, open an email account, and set good rules about internet usage for minors in their home. By connecting residents to the tools they need to be successful in the digital economy, Mayor Berke is helping expand opportunity throughout Chattanooga.


Problem

Currently the City of Chattanooga has very limited data made public to its citizens, hindering citizen engagement and trust in government.

Solution

Mayor Berke is working to release unprecedented amounts of public data in the city to spur civic innovation and economic growth. From interactive budgeting tools, to applications that show where road closures are -- open public data empowers the local development community to help solve difficult civic problems. Through a strong partnership with the Public Library, Chattanooga is also investing in an independent platform to host all community data (nonprofits, private businesses, community organizers)-- not just government. The Library will also be an independent advocate for high quality open data, which is invaluable for the long term future of government transparency in Chattanooga.


Problem

Government departments collect information on their services but rarely have enough time to analyze their data to ask meaningful questions that could lead to delivering services more effectively.

Solution

Mayor Andy Berke has proposed the “Citizen Data Scientist Challenge,” as a way to provide departments with meaningful information on how to improve their services by crowdsourcing the analysis of their data from everyday citizens and students. The challenge will help increase trust in government, by providing an opportunity for citizens to engage directly with local government and propose their own solutions for how government can be made more effective.


Problem

Cities often create solutions to solve a problem they have with providing a service to citizens without any thought or consideration to the end user, the citizen. This internal focus creates services that work for cities but not for citizens.

Solution

Empathy is key to citizen centered design and a muscle that must be exercised if cities want to develop city services that are responsive to their citizens needs. Mayor Andy Berke has proposed the creation of an Empathy school, which puts city and community leaders in the shoes of everyday citizens as they seek to attempt to access the same services and use the same systems. Through this understanding, city departments will be able to improve how their services meet the needs of the citizens they serve.


Problem

City codes are complex, confusing and often maintained by a private third party behind a paywall. How they are updated only adds to the confusion and makes it near impossible for anyone, other than a chosen few government employees, to understand the changes. As a result, there is often very little input from citizens when the code is changed and no way for a citizen track let alone suggest changes. 

Solution

Mayor Andy Berke has developed Git City Codes, which moves the operating DNA of cities, their codes and ordinances, into the public light by opening up the code to general public and managing updates through Git. Git is a distributed revision control system often used for collaborative computer coding projects. This will allow citizens to access all city codes and provide more timely input on improvements.


Problem

Typically, government services are built after long, costly procurement processes that rarely ask users for input on their interactions with those services. Meanwhile citizens’ interactions with government are often perceived as cumbersome or inefficient. In order to increase trust in government, local agencies should place users at the center of service design in order to make government services more convenient and easily delivered to citizens.

Solution

Mayor Andy Berke has proposed a new way of approaching government services through his “Making Government Awesome” plan. By implementing a user-focused design in reimagining how government services are delivered and consumed, Mayor Berke is helping to improve how citizens interact with their local government. Through this approach, Berke has already been able to make the permitting process in Chattanooga easier for new businesses through a user-centric design process.


Problem

Citizens often don’t have access to the same data and information that city officials use to make their decisions and as a result it can often be confusing how decisions are made. 

Solution

Mayor Andy Berke has proposed the “Radical Transparency” initiative in Chattanooga, that opens up the data and information that drives decision making within the city to the general public. Lots of cities have open data or transparency or performance management efforts, but rarely are they all connected. This effort leverages the efforts already in place to use data to drive continuous improvements through performance management and provides that same information to the public via the city’s open data portal. By allowing anyone to view and perform their own analysis on such data, Mayor Berke is helping to restore trust in local government.