The Mayor's Challenge for US cities from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is a great idea. The rationale for the Mayors Challenge is explained in the video alongside and details of the competition are available at the Bloomberg Philanthropies website. Mayor Bloomberg is personally funding the effort and it is available to all cities with over 30,000 population and the first prize is $5 million with four second prizes of $1 Million each.
An example of a great idea is from Chicago where there are two phone numbers. 911 for emergencies and 311 for everything else. The 311 idea has spread to 70 other cities and has greatly enhanced the effectiveness and responsiveness of the city to resident services. Details of the Chicago example are worth reading. To summarize , in Chicago, before 311 if you had a charge complaint for a cab ride, you did not know who to call in the city. By getting feedback from public the 311 service has helped prevent flooding, deal with the West Nile virus and vastly improve emergency response times.
Mayors of US cities with over 30,000 population will get an invitation to participate. By just participating, cities will start focussing on areas they can make a difference including healthcare as in the Camden experiment mentioned in an earlier post.
The reason that the Mayors Innovation Challenge is a great idea is because this will encourage on the ground local leaders to propose and highlight innovative solutions to some of the most pressing problems in America. This decentralized grassroots approach to innovation in the public sector will work because guess what: if say a city submits an innovative science and math popularizing program for the High School the town will talk about it, have it be the lead story on the local TV News and newspaper and make long but enthusiastic speeches at the Board of Ed meetin.g And many city leaders will facilitate Tweets and Facebook pages. Whether or not the innovation idea wins overall, it will make a difference at the originating city and to those who learn about it -worldwide.Let's hope that every city that is eligible will apply: confirmation of interest is July 14 and submissions are September 14. Contact StratoServe.