Procurement isn’t always the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of “hot” topics. But the ways in which government agencies purchase and procure goods and services do make a direct, positive impact on the lives of public citizens.

As we celebrate National Procurement Month, we wanted to acknowledge the ways that this profession makes significant civic impacts. We’ve identified three cities across America that are using procurement, and partnering with private vendors in the Business-to-Government (B2G) marketplace, to increase government efficiency and effectiveness.

Miami, FL – Building a Resilient City Through Disaster Preparedness

The City of Miami was one of five cities recently named as winners of the Smart Cities Council’s Readiness Challenge Grants. They are focused on purchasing and building programs that will allow the city to become more resilient.

Miami has designed a multi-pronged strategy to achieve this. The city is planning to leverage geographic information system (GIS) data to prepare for potential natural disasters and other effects of climate change. And in 2014, they partnered with Urban Impact Lab to develop resilient solutions for the city’s most vulnerable communities.

We’re deeply committed to strengthening innovation and resilience at the City of Miami. This work… will help us foster openness and the community collaboration needed to achieve smarter solutions.

Mike Sarasti, City of Miami Chief Innovation Officer

The city is one of a number of public agencies focusing on resilience, emergency services and disaster preparedness. Onvia found strengthening disaster services to be one of the top 10 hotspots in government contracting for 2017.

The state of Florida was the top state for disaster services bids and RFPs, based on data curated from Onvia’s B2G Intelligence System (B2GIS). With potential threats like hurricanes and flooding, government agencies in the Gulf States – like the City of Miami – are making purchases to respond and provide services as quickly as possible in case of an emergency.

Pittsburgh, PA – Seeking Feedback for Smart City Growth

When Pittsburgh began its plan to implement a smart lighting network throughout the city, it didn’t release a formal solicitation immediately. Instead, the city issued a Request for Information (RFI) to gather information and connect with potential vendors and partners.

Here’s how the RFI solicitation looked in Onvia Exchange, a free resource available to government agency procurement professionals for researching procurement information:

Solicitation Details - City of Pittsburgh

The goal? To get constructive feedback and provide as much benefit for the city’s citizens as possible, said Nick Hall, Pittsburgh Open Data Services Engineer. “We want this project to be grounded in what the actual benefits are to residents,” Hall said. ”There are genuine, potential benefits of data-driven feedback into city services if we go about this focused on public benefits.”

When considering procurement of smart lighting and smart city technology in general, acting proactively and looking years down the road can pay off for government agencies. Pittsburgh is doing that by gathering information and developing partnerships with private companies, and both the city and its citizens stand to benefit from this strategy in the long run.

Austin, TX – Sustainably Managing Water Resources, Green Infrastructure

Another city to receive a Smart Cities Readiness Challenge Grant was Austin, TX, a city that has been taking major steps to develop sustainable procurement.

The city has laid out a comprehensive plan that it calls Imagine Austin, intended to position the city as a beacon of “sustainability, social equity and economic opportunity.” Two main tenets of this vision are sustainably managing water resources and developing green infrastructure. Austin included several sustainable projects in its Capital Improvement Plan, including $62 million towards the construction of reclaimed water infrastructure.

Austin has also been taking action to promote sustainable architecture & engineering. As data in Onvia’s B2GIS shows, last year Austin awarded five vendors a contract to design sustainable projects throughout the city, ranging from new playgrounds to expanded trails.

These three cities are providing just a handful of examples of the ways governments can make a positive impact in the lives of their citizens. Government procurement professionals can view more examples of how their colleagues at other agencies have purchased smart technologies and services with the Onvia Exchange.

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