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Bloomberg Philanthropies to Help Six Global Cities Harness Digital Innovation to ‘Build Back Better’

New Innovation Teams Will Bolster Public Services in Amsterdam, Bogotá, Mexico City, Reykjavík, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

Lessons to be Shared with Other Cities Around the World

Bloomberg Philanthropies today announced new partnerships with six global cities aimed at accelerating digital transformation to improve the lives of residents and boost recovery from the COVID-19 global pandemic.

The three-year grants, which will fund innovation teams, or “i-teams,” will help mayors in each city leverage data and digital technologies to enhance public services and create new value for communities. Reporting to the mayor, i-teams work with colleagues across city government and with residents themselves to understand challenges in new ways and develop and test transformative solutions.

Innovation teams will be funded in six cities: Amsterdam, Netherlands (Mayor Femke Halsema); Bogotá, Colombia (Mayor Claudia López); Mexico City, Mexico (Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum); Reykjavík, Iceland (Mayor Dagur Eggertsson); San Francisco, California (Mayor London Breed); and Washington, DC (Mayor Muriel Bowser). These six cities were selected based on the success and ambition of their current digital efforts and their mayors’ commitment to creating more digitally inclusive and connected cities. Grants and technical assistance from Bloomberg Philanthropies totaling $17 million will be split among the cities enabling each to hire new innovation specialists and access world-class coaching and expertise.

“These six cities are already raising the bar for innovation in the public sector,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies and 108th mayor of New York City. “This investment will help supercharge their work to bring city services into the digital future, deliver better results for residents, and share lessons with other cities around the world.”

City governments often struggle to boldly address issues such as sustainability and economic mobility because responsibility for these concerns spans multiple departments. Meanwhile, many city halls lack the staff and internal capacity to rigorously test and adopt new ideas. The Bloomberg Philanthropies i-teams program was established in 2011 to drive change more effectively, and the teams work to spread a culture of creativity and risk-taking within local government.

This year’s i-team grants are the first to focus specifically on digital innovation, reflecting the important role data and digital services played as cities quickly reconfigured services during the pandemic, as well as the growing demand and interest in cities to build on these gains inclusively.

“We are proud, with the support of Bloomberg Philanthropies, to launch an innovation team in the capital of inclusive innovation,” said Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser. “DC Government is excelling in many ways – we’re accountable, we’re responsive, and we juggle the responsibilities of a city, county, and state. Throughout the pandemic, the team at DC Government – 37,000 members strong – rose to incredible challenges to not only protect our community but continue providing world-class city services. Now, as we make our comeback, the i-team will help us recover stronger and deliver that better normal we know is possible.”

“During COVID, San Francisco experienced tremendous success by following the data and science to help protect public health,” said San Francisco Mayor London Breed. “Our data-driven approach helped us deliver better services and build trust at a very challenging time for our City. Thanks to the support of Bloomberg Philanthropies, we can build off the lessons learned from COVID and improve how San Francisco serves all of its residents, and create a more efficient, accessible, and equitable government as we emerge from this pandemic.”

“The effort to accelerate our digital transformation of public services in Reykjavik is intrinsically linked to our vision of the future as we continue to build a truly livable city where all citizens have the ability to thrive,” said Reykjavík Mayor Dagur Eggertsson. “We are grateful to Bloomberg Philanthropies for this boost to our efforts and are looking forward to the next three years working with and learning from our colleagues in the other great I-teams cities.“

“Being one of the Bloomberg Cities i-teams is unprecedented news for Bogotá,” said Bogotá Mayor Claudia López. “This support will be fundamental for the digital transformation of our capital city and its consolidation as a Smart Territory. Bogotá is radically changing the way it relates to its citizens and responds to their needs. We are determined to innovate to move towards a collaborative, agile and transparent government model that improves people’s quality of life. Thank you very much for this enormous contribution.”

“When we talk about innovation and citizens’ rights in Mexico City, that means putting-cutting edge technology at the service of the people to bring education, connectivity and security closer to everyday life – while fostering a government that is honest and free of corruption,” said Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum. “Together with Bloomberg Philanthropies, we will work to find solutions to the problems in our city.”

Each of the six cities will select a high priority challenge or issue for the i-team’s initial focus, such as transforming how residents receive public health services, reducing application times for city-run services, or digitizing urban planning processes to increase resident participation. Bloomberg Philanthropies will document and share successes and lessons learned so that other cities’ digital innovation efforts can benefit, as well.

“Cities are embracing digital innovation like never before, while also working to ensure this transition benefits all residents, not just the most connected,” said James Anderson, head of government innovation programs at Bloomberg Philanthropies. “Here at Bloomberg Philanthropies, we believe in the power of helping cities raise their innovation ambitions, assess what works, and share lessons widely and ambitiously with their peers.”

Bloomberg Philanthropies has funded i-teams in more than 40 cities around the world to date. The Tel Aviv i-team spurred the creation of ‘Digitaf,’ a program that expanded and streamlined resident access to early childhood services. The team in Mobile reduced urban blight by 53%. Meanwhile, teams in Seattle, Long Beach, and Baltimore played central roles in helping mayors respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by working with underserved residents to develop various testing, vaccination, and contact tracing efforts.

For more information, visit https://www.bloomberg.org/government-innovation/spurring-innovation-in-cities/i-teams-and-innovation-programs/ and @BloombergCities on Twitter and Instagram.

About Bloomberg Philanthropies
Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in 810 cities and 170 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: the Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s giving, including his foundation, corporate, and personal philanthropy as well as Bloomberg Associates, a pro bono consultancy that works in cities around the world. In 2020, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $1.6 billion. For more information, please visit bloomberg.org or follow us on FacebookInstagramYouTubeTwitter, and TikTok.

Media Contact:
Bloomberg Philanthropies, Ty Trippet, ttrippet@bloomberg.net

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