Las Vegas and its environs, long challenged by water scarcity, recently created WaterStart, an incubator of businesses and technologies in the water sector. Innovative technologies being developed and implemented include acoustic devices that listen for leaks, machinery to remove nitrates from well water, and drones that improve irrigation precision. WaterStart aims to be a platform for nascent businesses and technologies to test their concepts. When a test is successful, the businesses can flourish, and they are incentivized to remain in the state, helping to spur economic development and avoid water scares that can adversely affect tourism. The project is a partnership of the city of Las Vegas, the state of Nevada, the University of Nevada’s Desert Research Institute, the regional water authority, and private industry.
To address the rapid growth of homelessness in the area, Los Angeles is looking to experiment with a nightly “safe parking” program similar to one currently in place in Santa Barbara, California. Santa Barbara has developed a network of locations, from religious institutions to municipal buildings, approved for overnight vehicle parking for residents who sleep in their vehicles. The program eliminated the need for residents to sleep in the street and risk being towed, made it easier to connect them to services, and relieved the neighborhood of street parking overcrowding. Los Angeles is studying the locations where it might pilot its version of the program.
To help target resources to effectively address trash and litter problems, Los Angeles has unveiled CleanStat, a comprehensive street-by-street cleanliness assessment system. Modeled after the police tool CompStat, CleanStat is a data-driven initiative that combines dash camera video and a geographic information mapping system to catalog and assess the cleanliness of streets, alleys, and sidewalks to help decision-makers allocate cleanup assistance or dumping enforcement. The system allows residents to track the grade their block is receiving and officials will also hold monthly meetings to discuss street conditions and removal strategies. CleanStat is part of a larger initiative to improve sanitation in the city.
To help lower-income patrons present themselves more professionally for job interviews, the Paschalville Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia has started a “tiebrary.” The branch, located in an area with high rates of poverty and unemployment, currently lends out 48 ties that range from conservative to trendy; ties can be checked out for up to three weeks by anyone with a library card. The program was spurred by the Queens Public Library’s “tiebrary” in New York, and complements the job readiness tools and workshops that the Paschalville Branch library already provides. The “tiebrary” is yet the latest example of the evolution of libraries as they respond to their communities’ needs and interests.
The General Services Administration and the Department of Commerce are partnering with the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation and the City Innovate Foundation to launch a new collaborative government workspace that will foster unique solutions to common urban problems. Dubbed “Superpublic,” the lab aims to break the barriers and join together academia, private industry, nonprofits, and different levels of government. Among the initial goals of the collaboration are the continued modernization of government digital services, improvement of transportation, smart cities development, and performance-based procurement.