Rīga among 21 European capitals in Bloomberg digital project

Rīga has been included in a list of 21 European capital cities that will participate in a private American initiative aimed at accelerating digital innovation to improve critical services and deliver better results for residents.

The initiaitve comes from Bloomberg Philanthropy, an organization set up by former New York mayor and U.S. presidential hopeful Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg Philanthropies includes his foundation, corporate, and personal philanthropy as well as Bloomberg Associates, a pro bono consultancy that works with mayors in cities around the world.

"The goal of the program is to help European cities deliver high-impact digital services, and share lessons learned with cities around the rest of the world," said a release naming the 21 cities which are:

  • Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Athens, Greece
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Bratislava, Slovakia
  • Brussels, Belgium
  • Budapest, Hungary
  • Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Dublin, Ireland
  • Helsinki, Finland
  • Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • London, UK
  • Madrid, Spain
  • Nicosia, Cyprus
  • Prague, Czechia
  • Rīga, Latvia
  • Reykjavik, Iceland
  • Sofia, Bulgaria
  • Stockholm, Sweden
  • Tallinn, Estonia
  • Vilnius, Lithuania
  • Warsaw, Poland

"For the duration of the two-year program, participating cities will receive expert technical assistance including design support to focus intensely on and transform one resident-facing government service to deliver better outcomes. The types of issues cities are expected to address include housing, mobility, health, education and jobs. Following the two year program, city teams will have acquired the skills and peer network to tackle additional challenges and redesign even more services," the release said.

Beginning with a kick-off meeting in London in January 2020, representatives from the selected cities will participate in a series of in-person and virtual meetings. City officials will have access to an executive education program from Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School faculty to strengthen the skills necessary for leading digital innovation in their cities.

“Across Europe, cities are embracing technology to transform their public services and tackle complex challenges,” said Jorrit de Jong, Faculty Co-chair of the Harvard program. “This new program provides an opportunity for city leaders to further develop important leadership skills, from building high-performing teams and collaborating across departments to leveraging data, in order to drive digital transformation.”

“Digital transformation needs to engage staff from across the city – technologists, program managers, and executives” said David Eaves, Faculty Co-chair of the Harvard program. “City leaders able to motivate change and mobilize others, who are skilled at negotiating and experimenting will best position their cities to use technology to solve problems.”

According to the release: "At the start of the program, cities will participate in a diagnostic process on their organizational maturity to harness digital technology and identify opportunities to advance capabilities including: digital vision, governance, technology systems development, approaches to user centric design, and building an infrastructure for the use of data," which seems basically to mean they will ascertain what works and what doesn't.

Bloomberg Philanthropies announced the start of its digital innovation program in June 2018, inviting all European capital cities to join the initiative.

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