Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Predictions for the Not-So-Distant Future of Tech and Cities

We sat down earlier this year with LMC’s new chief information officer, Melissa “Mel” Reeder to get her big-picture predictions for the not-so-distant future of tech and cities. We had a few “huh?” moments, but Mel is a pretty down-to-earth talker and was happy to translate her tech-speak into the following visions of what could lie ahead. Prepare to be inspired: 

Prediction 1

Open data: Cities will branch out into the role of providing the public a platform to access and mine public data. By thoughtfully structuring data in a standardized way, cities can make large sets of information usable and relevant to users. This allows users the freedom and flexibility to reference the data for their own creative applications—and could get cities out of the app-making business (doesn’t that sound nice?). In addition, centralized data will allow for more de-siloing of information and activity. When geographic data “borders” disappear, cross-jurisdiction collaboration follows.

Prediction 2
Personalization: Cities will continue providing more personalized services, allowing residents to register or opt-in to receiving tailored information, whether it’s about traffic or the hours of a neighborhood park. More and more, citizens will receive convenient texts or email notices when they need to renew a permit or pay a traffic ticket. Using pictures as well as text, public employees will be able to respond directly to requests, telling citizens when and how they resolved their issues. How’s that for service?

Prediction 3
Predictive analytics (Wait! Wait! Don’t glaze over yet!): By layering different types of seemingly unrelated data to see how different systems may be interacting, cities can address these intersections before they turn into big problems or missed chances. Example: comparing data from apps that crowd-source popular running routes to your city’s plans for where to locate trail amenities or zoning for pedestrian-friendly commercial. These “preemptive interventions” could be in any department or combo of departments’ purviews—infrastructure, public health, public safety, you name it. By better pairing intervention with need, these analytics will create new efficiencies in many city services.

Bonus prediction: Mel is fascinated by “Hyperloop” technology—individual transport capsules capable of traveling up to 800 miles an hour by magnet, which could theoretically allow you to get from the tippy top of the state to the southern border of Minnesota in about 45 minutes. Hey, a CIO can dream.


Monday, March 6, 2017

Advocating for Cities: What’s Been Happening and What You Can Do

We’re already two months into the 2017 Legislative Session! While it's always a busy place, more bill introductions than usual in the House and Senate=even more activity related to the city issues you care about. Below is an update on three issues that the League has been working on.

Small Cell Technology
Small cell technology in public right of way has been a hot topic in the legislature for the League so far. The League is currently opposed to the bill. While discussions are occurring with the proponents of the bill, there are still areas of concern including liability, installation, expenses, and impacts on governance.
Data Practices
Part of a potential omnibus data practices bill, this legislation would reclassify video, audio, and other recordings of government employees, independent contractors, or volunteers from "private" to "public" data. The League opposes this bill. One reason for this opposition is that personnel data that will continue to be considered private on paper would be considered public on video.
Workforce Housing
Cities facing a shortage of housing that would allow employers to expand their businesses should be aware of League-supported proposals to provide tax increment financing (TIF) and tax credits for workforce housing development. Workforce housing has been a priority of the League since 2015.

How can you advocate for these and other issues impacting your city?
Advocating for your city can take many shapes, but being able to tell your city’s story is one of the most effective ways to make sure your voice is heard and to educate others about what's happening in your city. It's also important to continuously build relationships with lawmakers, the media, and the people in your community. You can find resources and information on how to advocate on the League's website.

Join your city colleagues to make an impact at the Capitol!
Whether you’re new to advocating for your city or you’re experienced in getting your story out, join more than 140 of your city colleagues at the Capitol on March 23 for the 2017 Legislative Conference for Cities in St. Paul.

Start the day early with a pre-conference session reviewing the best ways to advocate, then hear from the League’s intergovernmental relations team, members of the media, and state government leaders as you get up to date on the League’s legislative priorities, Minnesota’s political landscape, and more. Plus, you’ll have opportunities to tour the Capitol, meet with your legislators, and connect with your city colleagues.

Online registration is closing soon! Explore the full agenda and more: www.lmc.org/legconf17blog

Do you have stories about advocating for your city? Share them in the comments below!