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Cities Step Up: Reflections on Sorenson Impact’s Winter Innovation Summit 2017
Cities Step Up: Reflections on Sorenson Impact’s Winter Innovation Summit 2017

Cities Step Up: Reflections on Sorenson Impact’s Winter Innovation Summit 2017

Thematically, this year’s Winter Innovation Summit (Salt Lake City, January 25 -27) sat at the center of the following Venn:

Topics ranged from using data to improve operations to user-centric design for better government interfaces to leveraging agile development principles for policy design. For sustainability-data nerds like us, this was pure gold.

Industry leaders expressed mixed emotions about the prospects for data driving government policy. There was a clear sense that science now means very little at the federal level.

But the message from the many mayors in attendance was clear: for cities and towns, data remains an essential ingredient for civic engagement, process improvement, and smarter spending.

Municipalities (and impact investors) feel a sense of urgency to fill the coming void; that sucking sound we hear is data (and, more broadly, science) being flushed from the political system.

That noted, we were heartened to observe the enthusiasm of mayors and municipalities to partner with entrepreneurs and increase access to data sets, improve policy, and reduce the operating costs of running a city. They are crowd-sourcing solutions, employing lean startup methodologies, and tackling climate change from the bottom up.

In the face of reduced federal support of (and investment in) science, we will need municipalities to double down on their commitment to mitigating environmental impact, addressing climate change, and embracing entrepreneurs to help them become more resilient in the face of significant financial and environmental challenges.


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