To encourage creative, out-of-the-box thinking that serves the public, Louisville, Kentucky, has created “Badges,” a citywide initiative that rewards employees for acts of “breakthrough innovation, continuous improvement and daily work.” Initially, the incentive program, modeled after the one used by the Girl Scouts, will award badges for two tracks, Data Scouts and Innovation Pioneers. City employees submit evidence of completed tasks to earn the badges and can receive different levels of professional recognition. Officials envision the program as an alternative to traditional training efforts and anticipate more tracks being launched later this year from departments including Performance Improvement, Information Technology, and Health.
California has taken another step in strengthening its climate change policy by using its procurement power to reduce the emissions required to produce some of the goods that it utilizes in infrastructure projects. The first-of-its-kind legislation — the Buy Clean California Act — addresses the “carbon loophole” created by buying from firms that manufacture industrial products elsewhere that have not invested in reducing emissions to comply with the state’s strict pollution rules. Under the new law, state agencies can only procure certain industrial products that meet or beat a low carbon standard. It is expected that a significant percentage of the $10 billion a year that the state spends on infrastructure will now be directed at low-carbon suppliers.
To help surmount the “first mile/last mile” obstacles that often inhibit the use of public transportation, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority has partnered with the ride-sharing company Via to help people get to and from three major Metro stations. The partnership, funded by a $1.35 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration, will involve subsidized fares to enable more riders to get to their destinations quickly and conveniently.
In one of the first such implementations for state government, the Utah Departments of Public Safety and Technology Services have released an application that allows would-be drivers to practice taking their licensing exam with Google Home, Google’s hands-free voice assistant. The assistant asks a series of questions to be asked on the real exam, waits for a response from the user, and then verifies whether they are correct. In addition to providing another convenient digital tool that simplifies interactions with state government, the app also expands accessibility for those who are visually impaired.
In Estonia, police have sent 700 Christmas cards with pictures of car crashes and road accident statistics to encourage repeat offenders to be safe. The “black” Christmas cards, which police have sent since 2011, are sent to drivers with five or more serious driving offenses, such as speeding or driving while intoxicated, that were recorded during the year. The cards are among the measures that have helped Estonia drastically reduce the number of its annual road fatalities over the past decade.