45-department-of-innovation-21st-century-city-government

my man’s computer, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from shakakahnevan’s photostream

Pittsburgh is known around the world for the ingenuity of its people. We invented the polio vaccine, daylight savings time, even bingo! It’s time to bring that know-how to City Hall. I believe that Pittsburgh can be the city for creativity in government technology. We can be a pioneer for new ways of making our city work smarter, saving the taxpayers time and money in the process. Many of our city processes, from tax collection to filing for a permit, are stuck in the 1970s, yet Pittsburgh is full of companies and individuals that are inventing powerful new tools to increase efficiency. We need to start leveraging that innovation and bringing it to bear on how we operate as a city government.

1. Data-Driven Decision Making

Analytics, not politics, will drive the decisions I make. I will work with our departments to design a system of reporting information to the public that works for departments and for residents. Taking cues from cities across the country, I will use the information we gather to help the city run better: learning where to target our efforts for the good of our citizens. This means, for example, that every department should be collecting and disseminating data in the same format. Right now, each department has its own method of collecting and reporting data, methods that often conflict with one another and prevent data from one department from being easily accessed by another. We can’t make good decisions unless we can easily track indicators across city government, and the public can’t easily see how their city is doing unless we can make these indicators available in a usable format.

2. A Website That Works for Pittsburghers

There are pages on the city’s website that are over a decade old. I will challenge our Information Services department to make the website the envy of other cities and a true one stop shop for residents, visitors, and businesses. My goal is to have a website where you can easily find information, apply for permits, and learn about the great assets we have throughout the city.

3. Taking Advantage of Our Strengths

We have globally recognized programs in computer science housed just a few miles from the City-County Building, and I will take every opportunity to collaborate with our university partners. We can create a cooperative learning program: a class where students can get their hands dirty by designing digital tools that will help the city provide better services to residents. This program will be among the first of its kind and can serve as a real example of tapping into Pittsburgh’s most valuable resource: people.