Building on the release of The Way Forward, which included policy agendas to address many of the country’s most pressing challenges and expand opportunity, this month’s NewDEAL Leader Spotlight highlights the key elements for state and local leaders to develop smart communities, where government taps into the latest technological advances to provider more effective and efficient services, engage citizens in solving problems, and build trust by becoming more transparent than ever. This month's Spotlight highlights a few of efforts by NewDEAL members to rise to this challenge.
Technology for a Smarter Government -
Mayor Kathy Sheehan is connecting 22 Albany municipal buildings to the Power Authority's New York Energy Manager for continuous monitoring of city buildings to ensure optimal operations and identify opportunities for cost savings from more efficient energy operations. The project is funded as part of $1.4 million state grant for innovative energy projects, which also include the installation of electric vehicle charging stations, a city vehicle fleet optimization project, and other energy efficiency upgrades that will help the city reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 773 tons a year and save the city approximately $240,000 annually.
Thousands of miles away, LED city lighting being implemented by Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz will save thousands of dollars a year. Thousands of street lights have been changed as the city’s smart efforts, which build on work by NewDEAL Founding Co-Chair former U.S. Senator Mark Begich during his tenure as Anchorage's mayor, are setting new standards that will also reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change.
Technology for a Smarter Government - Air Quality
Under Mayor Michael Hancock's leadership, Denver has received grant funding to develop a real-time, hyper-local air quality data monitoring system at 10 schools to protect student respiratory health, recognizing that Denver families spend an average of $3,000 annually per family on asthma-related costs. Data will help inform policy decisions and impact resident behavior to decrease the health and financial burden of air pollution.
County Council President,
Montgomery County, MD
Building on Chattanooga's pioneering work in municipal broadband, Mayor Andy Berke has partnered with city schools to ensure that those students on free and reduced lunches have discounted internet access, at $27 per month. Seventeen hundred families signed up in just nine months. 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.
Montgomery County, MD Council President Hans Riemer has crafted legislation that gives the County an important tool--“dig once” authority--to accelerate the building of a County-owned broadband conduit network which will deliver ultra high-speed, high-capacity communications services to residents, government agencies, academic institutions, and businesses. “Dig Once” is a practice where conduit--plastic pipes which house broadband communications equipment--is installed while a street is under construction for another reason, be that repaving or utility work. By taking advantage of a street already under construction, the County reduces the cost of deploying broadband infrastructure and reduces the impact of digging the street up multiple times
Transparent Government with an Engaged Citizenry
New Castle County, DE
Mount Laurel, NJ
New Castle County, DE County Executive Matt Meyer created a fully-searchable website that connects the public with detailed expenditure data across county departments and features interactive tools that allow users to browse and analyze information through maps, charts, and graphs. It provides information through a searchable database that allows users to view, sort and download information by county department, vendor, category, and fund. The website offers transparency into government spending, including employee salaries, vendor payments, expenditures for public safety, and construction and infrastructure.
Senator Troy Singleton has created a Citizen Co-Sponsor online tool that allows New Jerseyans to "co-sponsor" policy initiatives, offering their support to help develop measurable input from constituents about programs and policy proposals. It uses modern technology to provide a direct line of instant positive and negative feedback to their representative, helping increase public trust and engagement in government. This tool, along with a monthly Citizens Advisory Panel meeting where members of the public can come and discuss specific pieces of legislation that are currently moving in the Legislature, helps the Senator engage his constituency on policy matters of importance.
Technology for a Smarter Government -
Long Beach, CA
Montgomery County, OH
As detailed in a previous Monthly Spotlight, NewDEAL Leaders are committed to a fairer, more effective criminal justice system. In addition to changing laws, they use data to deal with offenders more appropriately.
Mayor Robert Garcia's Long Beach Innovation Team (i-team) launched a first-of-its kind Justice Lab to provide new tools to first responders to divert residents in need out of the criminal justice system and toward much-needed resources like treatment and care. By analyzing more than 100,000 offenses, the i-team determined that 85% of repeat offenses are not serious crimes, but rather low-level misdemeanors, and developed eight initiatives to break the cycle of incarceration. They include a City Prosecutor-led effort to help first responders quickly identify appropriate services, a data sharing agreement among City Departments, and a data warehouse to bring multiple data-sets together to cross-check information about Police, Health, Fire, City Prosecutor’s Office, and other departments to help coordinate much-needed wraparound services for residents.
Similarly, County Commissioner Dan Foley helped create JusticeWeb in Montgomery County, OH. This multi-county comprehensive criminal justice information system is designed to improve mission critical data support for all levels of the justice system. Since its inception, JusticeWeb has saved taxpayer dollars by allowing the county to better manage its jail population and lower costs, and provide law enforcement with real-time data to make the community safer. JusticeWeb continues to grow and evolve as additional data is obtained and new technology develops. Most recently a mobile application was developed for use on most smartphones.