After submitting ideas about addressing urban challenges and improving city life, 20 cities around the country have been chosen as finalists in a government-innovation contest sponsored by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's personal foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies. Here are the cities and proposals that now get to compete for a $5 million grand prize and four $1 million awards:
— Boston: Using cloud computing to put student data under control of parents and guardians and empower them to share it with educators and entrepreneurs.
— Chicago: A data-analytics system that will aggregate data from all city departments and identify patterns in real time, allowing leaders to make smarter decisions faster.
— Cincinnati: Monitoring, increased prenatal care, education and home visit follow-ups from a community health worker for every new mother giving birth in the city's poorest and most medically underserved ZIP codes.
— Durham, N.C.: Creating "Proof of Concept" labs in three struggling communities to foster entrepreneurship.
— High Point, N.C.— Adapting a noted anti-gang-violence program to the problem of domestic violence.
— Hillsboro, Ore. — Creating transportation hubs that allow for such alternatives as bike sharing, car and ride sharing, hourly rental cars and van pools.
— Houston: Creating a system that lets people throw all waste, including recyclables, into one bin and use a range of technologies to sort it automatically.
— Indianapolis — Creating spots for 30,000 students through partnerships between charter and traditional public schools.
— Knoxville, Tenn. — A project that aims to encompass the entire urban food cycle by using vacant lots to grow food, establishing certified kitchens to process food, and establishing a legal mechanism to enable food distribution to those in need and produce sales to local establishments.
— Lafayette, La. — Applying game-design thinking and mechanics to civic behavior.
— Lexington, Ky. — A system that analyzes data on how the city is doing, in areas ranging from crime to jobs, and invites volunteers to suggest solutions and even implement them.
— Milwaukee — Designating many of some 4,000 city-owned vacant lots and foreclosed homes for urban agriculture and urban homesteading.
— Philadelphia: Engaging entrepreneurs in framing social challenges and seeking solutions;
— Phoenix: Create 15 "smart-energy districts," using a matrix of options such as energy efficiency, renewable energy and other choices.
— Providence, R.I. — Use new technology and state home visitation services to equip every family in the city to measure children's household auditory environment and close vocabulary deficits in real time.
— Saint Paul, Minn. — Streamlining the permit application process for residents, developers, and businesses, in a way inspired by TurboTax.
— San Francisco — Matching job-seekers with volunteering opportunities on city projects to create efficiencies and promote workforce development.
— Santa Monica, Calif. — Create a wellbeing index to reorient the definition of success, seeking to achieve a measurable wellbeing increase in five years.
— Springfield, Ore. — A plan to provide universal, cost-effective access to primary healthcare through the development of mobile primary care units, staffed 24 hours a day.
— Syracuse, N.Y. — Create an "International village" to welcome and create economic opportunities for refugees and other immigrants, while channeling investment into an area of underutilized residential and commercial buildings.