Private-Sector Tech Innovations Make Their Way into City Halls

Can municipal governments adopt cutting-edge technology—and the culture that goes with it?
August 8, 2014, 10am PDT | Molly M. Strauss | @mmstrauss
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Peter Marx joined the City of Los Angeles as its first Chief Innovation Technology Officer in February, leaving a job at Qualcomm Labs to assume the position. He faces political institutions unfamiliar with the tech world’s reliance on iteration and the "fail fast" mantra, yet is tasked with bringing that mentality to improving city services. Marx notes the obstacles to success:

"Traditional city development methodology says we procure it, we design it, we develop it, we deliver it, and then we don’t think about it ever again. More modern development methodologies say we develop something really early, it’s basic but functional, and then we iterate upon the service continuously... I understand from the Information Technology Agency that It takes on average 450 days to procure a service, which means that by definition you’re always buying not last year’s service, but the year-and-a-half-before-that’s service. That’s difficult."

Despite these challenges, Marx is hopeful that promising projects already underway will make an impact—including the City of LA's Open Data initiative and the MyLA311 app. In this interview with The Planning Report, he offers ideas for the future, then touches on lessons learned from other domestic and international cities.

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Published on Monday, August 4, 2014 in The Planning Report
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