The report details four case studies – Detroit, Long Beach, Macon-Bibb County, and Miami-Dade County – from The Opportunity Project for Cities
The Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University and the Centre for Public Impact today unveil the findings and lessons from the second annual The Opportunity Project for Cities sprint. Doubling in size from the inaugural 2021 cohort, the 2022 program led four cities and counties through a 22-week design sprint that partnered government practitioners and community organizations. Google.org offered pro bono support as their technical team helped to research, design, and create digital tools to address residents’ most pressing needs.
Communities involved in The Opportunity Project for Cities second annual sprint included:
- Detroit, MI who aimed to accelerate its digital equity initiatives by improving residents’ experiences with prolonged internet outages.
- Long Beach, CA who looked to strengthen the community’s climate resilience by expanding urban forest coverage.
- Macon-Bibb County, GA who sought to support thriving neighborhoods and local residents by removing neighborhood blight.
- Miami-Dade County, FL who planned to support local entrepreneurs and small business owners by lowering the barriers to starting a business.
“The Opportunity Project for Cities shows how we can positively improve people’s lives when local governments and community members work together and leverage open-data to address challenges across a diverse range of issues,” said Lynn Overmann, Executive Director of the Beeck Center. “We’re excited to share these case studies as resources for communities across the country as they seek to better engage and serve their residents.”
On the heels of the program’s conclusion, the Beeck Center and Centre for Public Impact will deliver a comprehensive report and toolkit to help inform and advance wider efforts in the field of civic innovation. Now armed with these resources, governments will be able to develop meaningful applications for local data to tackle community needs. The report shares key insights for local governments facing similar challenges. The toolkit allows anyone to replicate The Opportunity Project for Cities model. Together, these resources not only present new ways to leverage human-centered design for public interest technology but also identify new models of collaboration with community partners and technologists through civic innovation.
“We’re honored to have worked alongside this cohort to advance their shared mission of empowering residents who are closest to problems and have great ideas on how to solve them,” said Josh Sorin, a Global Director at the Centre for Public Impact.
This second cohort of The Opportunity Project for Cities builds upon the success of the 2021 sprint in San José, CA, and Saint Paul, MN where sprint teams partnered to address local housing issues. In its second year, the program was scaled up to include county governments and an additional four weeks of programming. The program also strengthened its commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) through new programming and an improved application process, including the creation of a systems map workshop which trained teams to analyze inequitable power dynamics and identify underrepresented actors who are directly affected by their chosen problem. The Opportunity Project for Cities will continue to build on this work as the program continues to expand.
The long term goal of The Opportunity Project for Cities is to surface new open-data technology solutions to address public challenges and foster cultures of government transparency, accessibility, and responsiveness to strengthen trust with residents and lay the foundation for lasting community-driven innovation.
Quote Sheet From the Opportunity Project for Cities Participants and Partners
- Gabe Doss, Google.org program lead
“At Google.org, we know that engaging directly with local governments and community organizations can accelerate technology’s ability to meet residents’ needs. That’s why we were excited to support The Opportunity Project for Cities for the second year in a row. Our pro bono, cross-functional team of Google technologists worked alongside community experts to improve digital equity in Detroit, climate resilience in Long Beach, neighborhood blight removal in Macon-Bibb, and economic development in Miami-Dade. With the solutions developed and the toolkit published today, government agencies across the country can continue to leverage public data, community knowledge, and proven technology practices to unlock innovation for their communities.”
- Rob Biederman, Director of Google State and Local Government Affairs, Central and East Regions
“We were thrilled to support The Opportunity Project for Cities for a second year and bring together the best of Google tech expertise with local knowledge of community needs. From digital equity to sustainability, the diverse array of projects across the four communities demonstrates our commitment to technology that improves lives and creates opportunity for everyone.”
- Art Thompson, Chief Information Officer, City of Detroit
“Collaboration between community organizations, Google.org, and The Opportunity Project for Cities helped us create a platform that crowdsources and reports data on internet outages. By doing so, residents are now able to make more informed decisions about their internet service provider. Most importantly, this data will help the city continue to advocate for equitable internet service in the most underserved locations first.”
- Jeff Jones, Executive Director, Hope Village Revitalization
“Hope Village, like most communities of color, has long suffered with digital access inequities. Despite the challenge, the resilience of our community is rooted in our commitment to collaborating with partners like the Opportunity Project for Cities to effectively advocate for residents. Hope Village is proud to be a part of this growing movement to ensure digital equity and lift the voice of the residents of underserved communities.”
- Lea Eriksen, Director of Technology & Innovation/CIO, City of Long Beach
“Long Beach was very happy with our participation in The Opportunity Project. We loved the model of bringing community members, city team members and tech volunteers together to understand the needs of our community first and then to co-design with community a solution that works! The site developed leveraged the City’s open data and will allow community members to learn about our urban tree canopy and to help the City to maintain it!”
- Jeff Rowe, President of Nehyam Neighborhood Association in Long Beach
“TOPC has been instrumental in helping our Nehyam Neighborhood Association in North Long Beach focus on the challenge of getting public street trees watered, the tree cutouts mulched and weeded, and public gardens in general maintained. Moreover, the work with TOPC has inspired us to assemble a team of experts and conservation groups to share best practices and find a way to water trees on public spaces in Long Beach.”
- Cheriene Floyd, director of performance and analytics, Miami-Dade County
“With this project, the County team embraced a new way of building. We stood up a cross-functional team with multiple external partners to prove out a solution that would have lasting impact. That’s a big deal because it meets Mayor Cava’s challenge to us on several levels. She’s asked to collaborate, to be agile, solution-focused, and inclusive. To name a few. I think we walked out those values with this work.”
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 and counties 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 co-created 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 pro bono technical support from 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. An anchor of Georgetown University’s Tech and Society network, its projects test new ways for public and private institutions to leverage data and analytics, digital technologies, and service design to help more people. For more information, please visit 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 organization 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 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.
Centre for Public Impact