- Philadelphia has awarded seven grants, worth about $50,000 total, to fuel innovative or tech-forward pilot programs in the city.
- The grants were awarded internally to improve different departments' operations and public-facing services. The money will go toward programs including upgrades to fire department training technology, a tech-based animal control dispatch system and an app-based zero waste educational program for schools.
- The proposals were judged on criteria including delivery of public services, cross-departmental collaboration and value creation. Pilot programs that prove successful could eventually grow to include other departments and also become regularly-funded programs, reports StateScoop.
The grant money comes from the city's Innovation Fund and is intended to encourage employees to share innovative ideas that have the potential to transform the way government operates.
Municipal employees don't always feel like they have the ability to experiment with unproven methods or programs because they are publicly funded and a failure to achieve goals could lead to an uproar about misspending public funds. Philadelphia's grants are designed to provide funding to fill those needs and encourage employees to test projects.
However some of the topics chosen for the grants may struggle to receive permanent program funding because the public doesn't necessarily view them as high priority. For example, animal control dispatch technology greatly improves operational efficiency and accuracy, thus saving time and money, but it might not be considered as critical as funding public safety programs.