The level of commitment to innovation at the municipal level depends most on bold leadership, dedicated staff with the right skills, and a strong focus on the use of data to establish targets and measure outcomes, a report from Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development finds.
Based on a survey of eighty-nine cities around the globe, the report, Enhancing Innovation Capacity in City Government, and an accompanying interactive map on the City Innovation website identified five dimensions of innovation capacity — strategy and approaches, staffing and structure of innovation work, data used to support that work, funding, and outcomes based on a city's objectives. Nearly 80 percent of the cities surveyed reported that political and managerial leadership was an essential component for supporting innovation capacity; 70 percent considered upskilling the workforce and bringing in people with required knowledge and skills to be an important component in improving capacity; and 85 percent said data played a significant or somewhat significant role in innovation decision making and policy making.
The report also found that 55 percent and 49 percent of the cities in the survey had formal innovation goals and strategies, and that those strategies tended to combine multiple approaches — including taking risks or testing new ideas, data-driven analytics, engaging residents in new ways, new solutions based on digital technologies, implementing organizational change, human-centered design, and rethinking financing and partnerships. According to the survey, innovation-related positions cities have filled so far include project management (82 percent), community engagement (60 percent), data scientist (56 percent), designer (56 percent), and communications (48 percent), while the most common policy areas where cities are applying innovation include economic development, transportation/mobility, digital governance, policing and law enforcement, and social inclusion and equity. The interactive map includes profiles of each city, including their approaches to innovation capacity, funding sources, and policy areas.
To help cities advance their innovation efforts, Bloomberg Philanthropies has announced a nine-month training program focused on how cities can adopt cutting-edge innovation techniques that engage residents in testing, adapting, and scaling creative ideas with lasting impact. Cities with a chief innovation officer can apply to have a dedicated design coach who will help implement the innovation approach through detailed instruction and project-based learning; access virtual classes designed to build skills and identify how to overcome barriers to building innovation; and receive opportunities to build relationships with a global network of cities that have used innovation techniques to tackle challenges.
"City administrations have to break from tradition and find new ways to address the challenges raised by megatrends," said OECD secretary-general Ángel Gurría. "Innovation is necessary if we are to seize the opportunities and mitigate the risks emerging from major transformations in our economies and societies."