5 cities, 5 smart ideas: Oakland, Sao Paulo, Chicago, Dubai, Albuquerque

Wed, 2015-06-24 06:00 -- Liz Enbysk

Scroll down for five smart ideas from cities around the world...

Oakland opens up its social media archives
Working with ArchiveSocial – a Code for America accelerator company – Oakland will become California's first city to provide an open archive of its social media records. Once up and running, citizens will be able to access thousands of social media communications from city departments and programs, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube.  

"Providing transparency and access to data are critical needs of our community," said Oakland Chief Information Officer Bryan Sastokas. "I believe that for cities to experience the transformational benefits of open data, they need to leverage technology to get data into the hands of the people."

Sao Paulo app encourages citizens to suggest legislation
To bring people closer to the political decision-making process, the Legislando app introduced in Sao Paulo enables citizens to suggest bills for city and state government. It also provides a way for politicians to seek input and improvements on their own bills from citizens. People can also track bills under consideration with Legislando.

According to a post on the Sustainable Cities Collective, suggestions so far include a program to reuse water at car washes and gas stations and another to allow digital signatures on initiative petitions. Still another would establish Plazas for Friends of Dogs – gathering places for dogs and their owners.

Chicago re-times stoplights in a bike-friendly pilot
The re-timing on a section of roadway popular with cycling commuters allows southbound bicyclists who maintain a 12 mph pace to get an unbroken series of green lights. Known as "green wave," the practice has been common in Copenhagen for a number of years now and was recently introduced in San Francisco, according to StreetsBlog Chicago.

Previously cyclists on the section of Wells Street where the pilot is taking place would likely hit a red light at every intersection at 12 mph, the post says. Drivers benefit too, a city transportation official noted. Traveling at 25 mph they should also experience the green wave.

Dubai embraces technology to promote happiness
That's according to Dr. Aisha bin Bishr, who leads the government’s Smart Dubai task force team. Speaking at the ArabNet Digital Summit in Dubai recently, she suggested the Dubai government sees happiness as the main objective of its smart city efforts.

"Our mission is to create happiness by embracing technological innovation, and making Dubai the most efficient, seamless, safe and impactful experience for its residents and visitors," she said, according to a Khaleej Times article. "Our end goal is to improve the quality of life," she added. "We want to make those people who don’t like living in cities come live in our city."

Albuquerque targets skills (not diplomas) to fill demand for tech workers
Like cities around the world, employers in New Mexico have trouble filling jobs that require Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) degrees – particularly ones where advanced degrees are needed. A promising program in Albuquerque that assesses a worker's job qualifications based on their skills rather than the degrees they hold is gaining some traction.

A partnership between the city and the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions, Talent ABQ is coordinated by Innovate-Educate. Quoted in an Albuquerque Journal report, its CEO Jamai Blivin said: "If you look at the number of youth who don’t finish four-year degrees, it doesn’t mean they’re not qualified for these jobs. Competency testing is five times more predictive than education of job readiness."

Under the Talent AB program, Workforce Solutions offers free skill assessments at 33 sites around the city as well as free online courses to help people "skill-up" if they need more development.

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