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Monday, November 5, 2012

Lexington makes final 20 in contest
for Bloomberg $9 million challenge

The city of Lexington is among 20 finalists, picked from 300 applicants, in its bid to receive a $5 million grand prize or one of four $1 million awards in Bloomberg Philanthropies’ urban-innovation contest created by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
 

Lexington turned the experience of getting 440 ideas from citizens into an idea in itself: an ongoing system that analyzes data on how the city is doing and invites volunteers to suggest solutions and even implement them.Lexington will create CitizenLex.org, a new media platform designed to tap into the source of new solutions and ideas the nation has always relied upon in challenging times: its people, its citizens. CitizenLex is designed to engage American ingenuity in city problem solving and planning, through robust mining and connecting the dots among studies, reports and ideas, all designed to build a great American city.

 

“Giving the people more of a say is challenging for elected officials,” Mayor Jim Gray said in a statement, but “the democratic fabric is stronger when democratic processes are encouraged.”
 

Among other finalists are:
• St. Paul, Minn. which wants to create the TurboTax of permit-application systems.
• Lafayette, La., to create games around civic behavior. Phoenix wants to create “smart-energy districts.”
• Cincinnati to have community health workers visit every new mother in the city’s poorest ZIP codes, in hopes of reducing infant mortality.
• Houston officials want to forget recycling and focus on scalable technology to sort out all trash
• Milwaukee wants to address home foreclosures and a lack of fresh produce in some neighborhoods – by fostering agriculture and homesteading on many of Milwaukee’s 4,000 city-owned vacant lots and foreclosed homes.
 

Called the Mayor’s Challenge, the contest invited cities of 30,000 people or more to propose ideas that would address a major social or economic issue, make it easier for residents or businesses to deal with city government, increase efficiency, or enhance accountability and public participation – or all of the above.
 

The next step: an “Ideas Camp” next month for cities to get expert advice and feedback from other finalists. Revised proposals are due at the end of January, said James Anderson, who oversees Bloomberg Philanthropies’ government innovation work.
 

Winners will be announced in late winter or early spring.
 

Huffington Post contributing

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