An Update on the Work and Progress of the City’s Innovation Advisory Council

In July, fifteen subject matter experts from City of Seattle departments joined the Innovation Advisory Council at the Artefact loft in downtown Seattle. 

Gathered together around a half-dozen crowded tables, representatives from the City of Seattle offered ideas for a second round of IAC projects to members of Mayor Jenny Durkan’s Innovation Advisory Council. Following a short pitch by City staff, IAC members and City employees got together to flesh out these ideas, consider possible solutions, and exchange ideas about how we can address some of our region’s most pressing issues. Exploring challenges that ranged from improving the delivery of services to reducing or preventing tech-enabled coercive control, this brainstorm session laid the groundwork for the next round of the IAC’s work. 

These ideas were a result of a brainstorming session this spring, when City staff and directors from 25 departments came together to discuss high-level areas in which the IAC and the City could collaborate on to create new and innovative solutions. Over the course of the brainstorm, six opportunity areas emerged, including: 

  • Using real-time data to improve City services and response 
  • Understanding and addressing neighborhoods needs at a hyperlocal level 
  • Equitable economic opportunities and pathways for everyone 
  • Improved customer service experience 
  • Data for mobility and planning 
  • Storytelling about the City and its initiatives 

Following this discussion, the Mayor’s Office asked subject matter experts at the Departments to submit ideas for specific challenges within these six opportunity areas. Following an internal review, 26 unique ideas emerged that showed potential for collaboration with the IAC. 

Since its creation in August 2018, the Innovation Advisory Council has been working on seven “phase one” projects focused on solutions for homelessness, affordability, and delivery of basic services. Many of these projects are nearing completion, with all of them expected to launch – either in beta or as a final product – by the end of 2019.  

Established by Mayor Durkan via executive order in August 2018, the Innovation Advisory Council acts as an advisor on issues and policies affecting the City, where data and technology solutions could be of benefit. Specifically, the IAC focuses on issue identification, policy recommendations, and project implementation of technology solutions including new data analytics, dashboards, applications, and software for the City. Members and their businesses have committed to helping deliver these technology solutions. 

July’s workshops represent more than just brainstorming sessions; they are the beginning of a new type of public-private partnership with partnerships built around coming together to create shared solutions to shared problems. We know that in Seattle, the challenges facing our region are bigger than the government or our businesses can solve alone. Homelessness, transportation, the crisis of affordability – these challenges impact us all, and it is up to us to find these solutions together. 

In the coming months, the IAC will meet with Mayor Durkan to identify which of the 26 challenges will move forward to become the focus of the IAC’s 2020 work.