Press Release: Detroit, Long Beach, Macon-Bibb County, and Miami-Dade County work with residents to solve pressing challenges with local data
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Detroit, Long Beach, Macon-Bibb County, and Miami-Dade County work with residents to solve pressing challenges with local data
Georgetown Beeck Center and the Centre for Public Impact announce four new communities join The Opportunity Project for Cities
Washington, D.C. – Today, the Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University (Beeck Center) and Centre for Public Impact (CPI) announce that four new communities will join The Opportunity Project for Cities. During the program, cities and counties will participate in a 20-week design sprint that partners government practitioners and community organizations with pro bono support from Google whose employees will help to research, design and create digital tools that address residents’ most pressing needs.
Communities joining The Opportunity Project for Cities include:
Detroit, MI will accelerate its digital equity initiatives by increasing residents’ access to broadband internet.
Long Beach, CA looks to strengthen the community’s climate resilience by expanding urban forest coverage.
Macon-Bibb County, GA will support thriving neighborhoods and local residents by removing neighborhood blight.
Miami-Dade County, FL plans to support local entrepreneurs and small business owners by lowering the barriers to starting a business.
“While our cohort includes a diverse group of local governments from across the country focused on a variety of complex challenges, they all share a commitment to empowering residents who are closest to problems and have great ideas on how to solve them,” said Josh Sorin, program director at the Centre for Public Impact. “This program utilizes a unique model that brings together government, community organizations, and Google technologists from the start, creating the space and structure for them to work together to deeply understand difficult problems and co-create solutions, all the while building trust and relationships in the process that will pay dividends long after this project is complete.”
The Opportunity Project for Cities is a three-year program wherein local governments, community leaders, and Google technologists (including Product Managers, Software Engineers, UX Researchers, UX Designers and more) work with residents to prototype digital tools that use open data to address local challenges.
In the long term, The Opportunity Project for Cities encourages a culture shift to a more transparent and responsive government that is better equipped to positively impact the community. The Opportunity Project for Cities builds a culture of government transparency, accessibility, and responsiveness that strengthens trust with residents and lays the foundation for lasting community-driven innovation.
“Our model leverages open data, technology, and community inclusion to create open source solutions to common challenges facing local governments” said Cori Zarek, executive director of the Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University. “Working open source creates opportunities to scale and replicate solutions across communities. As this program grows, our hope is to see more communities adapt solutions from each other.”
This is the second cohort of The Opportunity Project for Cities and builds on the successes and learnings from the 2021 sprint in San José, CA, and Saint Paul, MN where partners created tools to address local housing issues. The program was inspired by the U.S. Census Bureau’s The Opportunity Project and adapted for local contexts by the Centre for Public Impact and the Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University. The Opportunity Project for Cities is supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and pro bono technical support from Google.org.
QUOTE SHEET FROM THE OPPORTUNITY PROJECT FOR CITIES PARTICIPANTS & PARTNERS
“Whether it be starting a new business, reporting blight and heat conditions, or connecting to resources bridge the digital divide, the entry door to government needs to be digital and meet residents where they are. Technology and data play essential roles in improving civic participation and the government services that better our communities. The new cities and counties joining The Opportunity Project for Cities will leverage local data to tackle timely issues that matter to residents. These are the building blocks for building more engaged communities in the digital age.”
Lilian Coral, Knight Foundation’s director for national strategy and technology innovation
“At Google.org, one of the most powerful assets we can share with nonprofits and civic entities is the passion and expertise of our Google employees. Last year, it was incredible to see how Google volunteers, including software engineers, product managers, user experience designers and researchers worked alongside governments and community organizations to address pressing challenges facing their local communities. We look forward to continuing this collaboration by offering pro bono support to create new opportunities for community-driven innovation.”
Erin Hattersley, Google.org manager
"With historic infrastructure funding on the table and Detroit's strong track record advocating for citywide digital equity, we are excited to work with The Opportunity Project for Cities to build community-led solutions to help ensure every Detroiter has the digital access they need and deserve."
Art Thompson, Chief Information Officer, City of Detroit
“Reliable internet access is a quality of life issue for Hope Village residents. We’re looking forward to working with The Opportunity Project for Cities and the city of Detroit to design approaches for ensuring that Hope Village residents have more equitable, reliable and affordable internet access.”
Debbie Fisher, Executive Director, Hope Village Revitalization
“Long Beach has championed various initiatives to increase our urban canopy and to address unequal access to green space and nature. We are committed to further amplify our sustainability work by leveraging open data and digital strategies through this new collaboration.”
Lea Eriksen, Director of Technology & Innovation /CIO, City of Long Beach
“Our North Long Beach community is one of the most polluted communities in the state, and the threat of future heat waves due to climate change is upon us. A good Urban Forest Plan can bring the shade we need and clean the air we breathe. Let's work together to change our future.”
Hilda Gaytan, President and Co-Founder, Puente Latino Association
"It's critical that we dramatically increase our urban forests -- the research is clear on the benefits to our air, water and climate."
Jeff Rowe, President of Nehyam Neighborhood Association in Long Beach
“Our top priorities are stabilizing neighborhoods and improving public safety through our #BlightFight, which involves removing blighted structures and replacing them with new homes and homeowners. The Opportunity Project for Cities will help us bring together multiple agencies and partners to give us the data and information to bring a heightened focus on our Historic Pleasant Hill Neighborhood, one of our first neighborhoods and one that has suffered greatly over the decades by neglect and negative policy decisions.”
Dr. Keith Moffett, County Manager, Macon-Bibb County
“Our core mission is to eliminate blight and poverty in category 4 poverty level areas in Macon-Bibb County. Blight has a direct connection to crime, poverty, and decreased mental and physical well-being. We are excited to work alongside Macon-Bibb County in their intentional efforts to remove blighted structures, enact stricter codes, and reestablish new homes or activated green spaces where once-blighted homes stood."
Tedra Clemons Huston, Executive Director, Macon-Bibb County Community Enhancement Authority
“Reducing barriers to starting a business with a clear and comprehensive permitting experience is critical to helping residents thrive and succeed in Miami-Dade County. Through collaboration and innovation, we aim to cut red tape and create an even more supportive environment for residents and entrepreneurs who are eager to invest in our local economy.”
Daniella Levine Cava, Mayor, Miami-Dade County
“As Miami-Dade County’s largely minority-owned business community continues to expand, so does the need for accessible business support. Our partnership with The Opportunity Project for Cities will further our ability to provide crucial resources for Miami’s entrepreneurs that are hardest to reach. Through this partnership, Axis Helps will serve as the connective tissue between our entrepreneurs and the resources they need to succeed and thrive.”
Marta Viciedo, Co-Founder & Executive Director, Axis Helps/Urban Impact Lab
About The Opportunity Project for Cities
The Opportunity Project for Cities brings together governments, community leaders, and tech volunteers to address local challenges through the power of open data and community engagement. During the program, cities create a series of customized digital tools that speak to residents’ most pressing needs. The Opportunity Project for Cities builds a culture of government transparency, accessibility, and responsiveness that strengthens trust with residents and lays the foundation for lasting cocreated innovation.
The Opportunity Project for Cities was inspired by the U.S. Census Bureau’s The Opportunity Project and adapted for local contexts by the Centre for Public Impact and the Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University. The Opportunity Project for Cities is supported by the Knight Foundation and Google.org.
About the Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University
The Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University brings together students, expert practitioners, and extended networks to work on projects that solve societal challenges using data, design, technology, and policy. Our projects test new ways for public and private institutions to leverage data and analytics, digital technologies, and service design to help more people. Learn more at www.beeckcenter.georgetown.edu.
About the Centre for Public Impact
At the Centre for Public Impact, we believe in the potential of government to bring about better outcomes for people. Yet, we have found that the systems, structures, and processes of government today are often not set up to respond to the complex challenges we face as a society. That’s why we have an emerging vision to reimagine government so that it works for everyone.
A global not-for-profit organisation founded by the Boston Consulting Group, we act as a learning partner for governments, public servants, and the diverse network of changemakers who are leading the charge to reimagine government. We work with them to hold space to collectively make sense of the complex challenges we face and drive meaningful change through learning and experimentation.
About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
We are social investors who support a more effective democracy by funding free expression and journalism, arts and culture in community, research in areas of media and democracy, and in the success of American cities and towns where the Knight brothers once published newspapers. Learn more at kf.org and follow @knightfdn on social media.
Google.org, Google's philanthropy, supports nonprofits that address humanitarian issues and apply scalable, data-driven innovation to solving the world's biggest challenges. We accelerate their progress by connecting them with a unique blend of support that includes funding, products, and technical expertise from Google volunteers. We engage with these believers-turned-doers who make a significant impact on the communities they represent, and whose work has the potential to produce meaningful change. We want a world that works for everyone—and we believe technology and innovation can move the needle.
About Macon-Bibb County
Macon-Bibb County is the fourth largest city in Georgia and its newest consolidated government. It was created on January 1, 2014, after a popular vote in July 2012, and it replaced the older, outdated, often contentious, and separate municipal and county governments.
The Macon-Bibb County consolidated government serves more than 157,000 residents, with nearly 30,000 more people driving in each day to work, eat, or shop. Thousands more travel through each day thanks to Interstates 75 and 16. The entire county serves as a regional hub for services, eating, shopping, entertainment, jobs, transportation, and more.
In January 2021, a new mayor, Lester Miller, began serving as the first new mayor in 13 years. Through a months-long process of forums, surveys, meetings, and more, he found the community’s top priorities to be: public safety; economic development; education & workforce development; diversity, equity, & inclusion; and recreation & tourism. In his first year, several successful initiatives have been launched, including the Brookdale Resource Center, Macon Mental Health Matters, the Blight Fight, Clean Streets Matter, and more.
About Axis Helps
Axis Helps Miami connects Miami-Dade small business owners to the economic resources they need to weather any storm and emerge with stability and strength. The organization combines an online platform that provides simple, easy-to-understand information with direct, human-powered help through local service providers known as the A-Team. Axis Helps offers valuable information on resources that business owners might not be aware of or can’t access but need in order to succeed. Axis Helps is powered by Urban Impact Lab, a social impact firm based in Miami, FL.
Shannon Felton Spence
Director of Communications + Marketing
Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University
Centre for Public Impact
Chief Communications Officer