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Assessing Partnerships for Municipal Digital Infrastructure
Recipient: Anthony Townsend (Cornell Tech)
Description: City governments ensure public health and safety, provide education and transportation, and support businesses and livelihoods. Software is an indispensable tool in this vital work. In fact, cities’ software needs are expanding exponentially, as everything is instrumented and automated. It is also a way to address longstanding challenges to governance through better transparency and accountability. But the way cities build and buy software is broken. Vendors are moving into positions as data intermediaries that may prove impossible to undo. Cities are finding key decisions about technology frameworks, data governance, and market structure are swept under the table. To overcome these challenges, cities have formed coalitions to collaborate and co-develop municipal digital infrastructure. There are some promising success stories. But cities have not yet fully cracked the code of how to scale these models or the solutions they produce. This project will explore how city governments collaborate with peers to create digital infrastructure; what makes these joint efforts succeed or fail; and the kinds of institutional capacity that could improve outcomes.
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