Across the country, cities are sharpening their focus upon the financial lives of their residents. Interventions include offering financial literacy workshops, subsidizing qualifying residents’ savings accounts, and fostering relationships between residents and banks. Nashville, Tennessee, has created city-staffed centers for one-on-one financial counseling for local residents, and has provided assistance to over 3,000 residents during 8,700 separate counseling sessions. Columbia, South Carolina is offering a three-to-one match for individuals who create bank accounts, following models from Georgia and Texas. And Dallas is using zoning tools to restrict the locations of predatory lenders.
Global cities have found unique ways to assist the blind in navigating cities. For example, Warsaw, Poland, is installing “beacons” at bus stops, inside municipal offices, and in and around other public buildings that broadcast to an app that reads out a person’s queue number or provides notification that a bus stop is coming up. Japan’s Geospatial Information Authority is working on a project that would turn its data into 3D-printed tactile maps for any location in the country. And, in Nigeria, researchers are working on a device that the visually-impaired can wear on their shoe that detects when an obstacle is coming close, and which then emits a sound to an earpiece that increases as an obstacle draws nearer.
Across the globe, cities are installing street lamps that do more than project light. Streetlights in Glasgow, Scotland, gauge air pollution and noise. Lights in Copenhagen, Denmark, direct drivers to empty parking spaces. Some lights in Los Angeles augment Wi-Fi coverage. And, researchers in Malaysia are testing streetlights that kill mosquitos, charge electronic devices, and emit flood warnings.
Baltimore is targeting teen unemployment and closing the services gap to its elderly and disabled population by paying teens to shovel snow for those who are unable. Under the new City Youth Snow Program, a collaboration between the city’s Department of Transportation and the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development, motivated Baltimore youth can be notified by app when a nearby shoveling job is requested; the app then prompts them to upload before-and-after pictures of walkways that have been cleared. The teens can earn $10 an hour, with the possibility to earn over $750 over the course of the winter. Hundreds of sidewalks were cleared during the recent winter storm under the program.
Columbus, Ohio, is combatting its high infant mortality rate — 150 infants a year die before their first birthday — by tailoring interventions to the unique needs of the city’s individual neighborhoods. CelebrateOne, a partnership between the Columbus Public Health Department, the state’s Department of Medicaid, and a number of other public and private entities is currently addressing three neighborhoods and will eventually expand into five more. For example, one neighborhood has good civic presence but a dearth of education programs, so the city is putting together a proto resident-to-resident education program for the neighborhood. Citywide, the city is also implementing hospital protocols to deter early births and teach safe sleep habits for infants.
New York State wants to ensure that its college graduates who stay and work in the state can be eligible for debt relief. The "Get On Your Feet" program offers up to two years of federal student loan debt relief to recent in-state college graduates who make less than $50,000 a year. New York is believed to be the first state to provide loan assistance based upon income. Officials believe over 7,000 recent graduates may enroll in the new program this year.