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Syracuse’s Office of Innovation seeks community input to determine areas of focus in 2018

By Eric Reinhardt

Date:

The City of Syracuse’s Office of Innovation, which is located inside Syracuse City Hall, is seeking public input to determine its focus area during 2018. It will accept public comment until Jan. 24. (Eric Reinhardt / BJNN)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The City of Syracuse’s office of innovation, or “i-team,” wants community input to determine the office’s focus area for 2018.

The i-team annually focuses on one challenge facing the city and uses a “data-driven approach to create and implement innovative solutions,” the City of Syracuse said in a news release issued Wednesday.

Individuals interested in submitting their ideas should visit www.innovatesyracuse.com/ideas.

People can choose from one of the listed topic areas, submit a different topic, or provide more details about a specific idea.

The listed topic areas include customer service, economic development, education, eviction, government efficiencies, neighborhood improvement, public engagement, public safety, social inclusion, workforce development, youth development;

The i-team is accepting input until Jan. 24. It will then determine the most popular responses and release those to the public for a two-week voting period. The topics that receive the most votes will go to Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh for final review.

The office of innovation expects a decision by the end of February.

Determining the focus area is the first step in the office’s yearlong process, which includes investigating the problem, generating ideas, “developing solutions, and implementing and adjusting the initiatives.”

About the office

The i-team was formed in 2015 with a $1.35 million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies. The team works closely with residents and city staff to design “solutions with clear goals and rigorously” measure progress.

In the past, the office has focused on infrastructure, opportunity and housing. As he begins his term, Walsh and the i-team are asking for public input to select the 2018 priority area.

“We are working to establish a culture of inclusiveness, where citizens truly feel like engaged participants in our local government,” Walsh said in the release. “This is among the first of what we anticipate to be many opportunities for the people of our city to be involved in decision-making processes that impact them and our community at large.”

Since its launch in 2015, the i-team helped make “substantial” progress on previous focus areas, such as “improving” the city’s water and road infrastructure. The work included filling over 15,000 potholes, more than doubling its speed in resolving requests for repairs from residents, saving over $1.2 million on infrastructure costs, and winning more than $750,000 more in state infrastructure grants.

Additionally, the office’s most recent work with the division of code enforcement has yielded an 18.2 percentage point increase in code compliance, per the release.

Property owners “successfully resolved” nearly 60 percent of violations “on time,” including health and safety violations such as heat and water shutoffs, infestations, and chipping lead paint.

Contact Reinhardt at ereinhardt@cnybj.com