As some of you probably know, one of the hats that I wear when I’m not sharing Good Ideas for the Local Economy Revolution is that I’m the Managing Editor of EngagingCities, an online magazine that focuses on the use of internet technologies to help people connect to and participate in their communities. We cover a mix of planning, open data, smart cities technologies, and other topics, we run stories from around the world, and our over 17,000 readers come from every continent.
I had an opportunity last month to interview Emily Jarvis, the lead author of a report that highlighted 20 new innovations in governments from the local to the national. The report was designed to highlight the incredible innovation going on in government services delivery of all types. As the author told me,
We felt like most of the media wasn’t telling the whole story about government employees – and we knew that government is one of the most innovative entities out there. So we wanted to highlight those achievements.
One of the things that Emily noted was that innovations at the local level are occurring when silos break down and departments that never touched each other before start working together. Like this:
One of the coolest things I saw was what local governments are doing with libraries. These institutions needed to find new ways to interact with people, and they are basically reinventing themselves as a tech hub. For example, Anne Arundel County’s library is across the street from a new Target, and people who wanted to apply for jobs had to do it online. But if you don’t have a computer or internet access, how do you apply for those jobs? The library basically set up an employment center, and it helped people do their applications. We’re seeing a resurgence in libraries that you wouldn’t have bet on a few years ago. You see government changing.