3 Key Takeaways from the latest Harvard TECH Global City Innovation Accelerator
The art of the possible was on full display in our global community
“2020 was a heck of a year,” is an understatement.
Ok, now that we got that out of the way we can move on to how Harvard TECH’s Innovators Forum was able to translate that sentiment into 3-days of thoughtful discussions around how local governments responded to the pandemic and what a future beyond the pandemic looks like.
I was thrilled to be a speaker and panelist for the event with some of my former municipal colleagues. It was inspiring to hear about how some of these global cities took leaps of faith, risks and challenged themselves to be agile in their response to this crisis that was impacting their residents. The stakes were high, and these selfless civil servants rose to the occasion. The art of the possible was on full display in our global community.
Here are some of the most memorable points of discussion that were raised by the keynote speakers, panelists and presenters:
Data is making a difference in the world
We need to look at problems differently through the lens of data. Data should underpin outcomes, interventions and paint the whole picture for our cities. There’s a great opportunity to generate quality data, so developing a data sharing strategy that includes safety and security for resident information will be a critical step in building trust with residents.
Disruption is the lubricant for innovation
In the words of my friend and colleague Dr. David Ricketts, “Disruption is the lubricant for innovation”.
Although the pandemic has ravaged communities and the people that live in them across the world, there is a silver lining. We now have local governments that are operating more nimbly and less risk averse.
The global crisis will provide many data points that we can learn from and can help inform better policy decisions and preparedness for cities. Cities are reprioritizing and shifting resources to their efforts in closing the digital divide, which showed up in spades this past year. Most importantly, we are watching cities and industry working together to redefine what a true, holistic approach to a public private partnership is.
The superpower of collaboration is real
In almost every discussion and presentation, the importance of connecting with each other was a key theme. Although everyone was in a different part of the world, I have never felt more connected as a global community. Sharing best practices, resources or even just a virtual cup of coffee is the new operating model.
Welcome to the new normal.