To ensure technology has impact for the better, the City of Philadelphia has a growing roster of initiatives with outside groups. It’s the explosion of the public-private partnership.
In its first term, the Nutter administration launched a handful of prominent examples, like neighborhood-centric PhillyRising, digital divide-focused KEYSPOT and the broad-based stakeholder group OpenAccessPhilly.
More recently, SEPTA and the Police department began leveraging technology to crowdsource solutions from residents. The national Code for America program once again this year connected Philadelphia with technologists to work on government shortcomings — the only municipality in the country to double dip on the effort. These and other initiatives are on display during a handful of the more than 80 events that are making up the second annual Philly Tech Week presented by AT&T.
In all these cases, a pattern is emerging: the city has a problem that outside organizations also want to solve, so they convene and set about cobbling together a solution. It’s a shift that’s particularly notable in a sector where city government has traditionally reigned supreme.
“The City of Philadelphia and its citizens are at the intersection of civic innovation, participation and technology,” said Jeff Friedman, the Manager of Civic Innovation and Participation in the Mayor’s office and a leader of the OpenAccessPhilly stakeholder group.
The reasoning behind these new public private partnerships is clear: in a budget strapped city that still wants to have an impact on digital access, local nonprofits and for-profits provide complementary, tech-oriented missions and a pre-defined audience.
“We can all translate both our personal and professional passions, connections and projects into public service for the benefit of the entire city,” Friedman said.
If you go
Here’s a list of Philly Tech Week events highlighting public-private tech partnerships.
When and where: Today, 12-1 p.m., WHYY headquarters, Old City
Tech Friendly Philly with Bill Green and David Oh
When and where: Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., City Hall, Room 401
Keyspot Digital Literacy 2.0
When and where: Tomorrow, 5-6 p.m., 1401 JFK Blvd, 19102
Switch Philly startup demo event: Mayor Nutter and legendary VC Josh Kopelman judge tech startups
When and where: Wednesday, 6-7 p.m., University of the Arts ($10)
Open Gov News Hackathon When and where: Saturday,
9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Annenberg Hall, Temple University ($5)