Government agencies are facing the issues of improving equality for their citizens, while at the same time keeping all of their agency operations running smoothly. Many of the federal, state, local and education agencies best meeting those challenges are doing so through innovative purchasing, technology and proactive decision-making.

We attended a forum hosted by state and local government website Route Fifty to learn from some cities doing just that, and heard from three mayors of major metropolitan areas: Ethan Berkowitz of Anchorage, AK, Rosalynn Bliss of Grand Rapids, MI, and Sam Liccardo of San Jose, CA. Here are some of the key tactics each of their cities are using to develop innovation and development in their communities.

San Jose, CA – Improving Civic Life Through Technology Innovation

In the heart of Silicon Valley, San Jose is leveraging technology to make their city more people-friendly – and more attractive to those who may want to move there. San Jose’s struggle is that they are a relatively new city, built primarily for automobiles and lacking much of an urban core, so they are attempting to increase mobility and connectivity through a number of creative methods.

According to Mayor Liccardo, the city is allowing local technology companies to try out new ideas in their city, including partnering with Facebook to release the company’s wireless internet technology. San Jose has also already created a new Office of Civic Innovation to further develop their smart city vision.

Anchorage, AK – Increasing Mobility with Transportation Projects

Alaska is the biggest state in the union, and its capital, Anchorage, is one of the most spread-out major American cities. This makes public transportation a challenge. The city is in the process of moving from a bus-only system to a “more fully integrated transit system,” Berkowitz said. This includes a free rideshare service for seniors and free travel training sessions. A long-term goal is integrating technologies and new transit developments, like Uber, into the transit system to meet people’s transportation needs everywhere in the city.

They’re also making the city more pedestrian-friendly. A recent transportation bid for a pedestrian plan implementation was captured in Onvia Exchange, the platform that helps agency officials save time and write better specifications. This transportation contract consists of projects including upgrading sidewalks, signage installation, drainage improvements and paving services.

Onvia Exchange solicitation example

Grand Rapids, MI – Setting Examples of Public Private Partnerships

Grand Rapids is experiencing rapid growth, but at the same time is dealing with the challenges of socioeconomic differences, affordable housing and equality. “To be a great, prosperous city, everyone needs the opportunity to be successful,” Bliss said.

One way the city is addressing this is through public-private partnerships (P3s) to redevelop underused areas. In 2012, Grand Rapids used public and private funds to create and open a $30 million public market in what was a neighborhood of vacant warehouses. Other area examples of public private partnerships include the creations of city parks, healthcare facilities and a renovated downtown university campus.

In addition to our sales acceleration technology and our market research, Onvia is constantly tracking new developments in the B2G marketplace, to help businesses accelerate their sales to the public sector and governments to innovate and operate with more efficiency.

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