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If you hear “MVP” and the first things that come to mind are sports stars like LeBron James or Tom Brady — “most valuable players” — you’re not alone.

But in a growing number of city halls, another kind of MVP is making its way into the conversation. It’s the “minimal viable product,” and it’s a concept that comes to government from Silicon Valley rather than the sports world.

This kind of MVP is a critical piece of how entrepreneurs experiment, learn, and build products the market wants. One famous example comes from the online shoe store Zappos. In the…

From left to right: Jaeyon Yu, Njeri Ndonga, and Sarah Gallimore.

The first phase of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Global Mayors Challenge wrapped up last week with more cities from more countries submitting more Mayors Challenge applications than ever before. These cities are now competing to be one of 15 that will win $1 million each to implement a breakthrough idea that represents the world’s leading urban innovations to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. The 50 finalist cities that will advance to the second stage of the Mayors Challenge will be announced in June.

Before submitting their applications, more than 1,900 city leaders attended one of the nearly 500 virtual workshops Bloomberg…

When the pandemic hit, Fort Collins, Colo., was already on the way to building something many cities suddenly wished they had: a municipal broadband utility. City leaders were able to quickly leverage their growing fiber-optic network to bring WiFi to students who had no other way to get online for virtual school.

The seeds of the idea to build that network were planted 10 years ago in the city’s “Futures Committee.” The group is a subcommittee of the City Council chaired by Mayor Wade Troxell, with an unusual mandate for local government: to explore challenges and opportunities lying 20 to…

To increase the pace of COVID-19 vaccinations in Latinx communities, the city of Long Beach, Calif., is partnering with community groups to host mobile clinics like this one last month. (City of Long Beach photo)

The Latinx neighborhoods Councilwoman Mary Zendejas represents in Long Beach, Calif., have been hit hard by COVID-19. So when Zendejas saw that residents in her district were getting vaccinated at much lower rates than people in other parts of the city, she got to work.

She mobilized a task force she created earlier in the pandemic — called Latinos Contra COVID — which includes several community organizations and city Health Department and Latinx city staff members. …

(Shutterstock/Elena Abrazhevich)

By Sascha Haselmayer

In 2012, Peter Moore was given an unpleasant task nobody working in local government wants. At the time, he ran social services in Sefton, a city of 275,000 in the U.K. near Liverpool. The city could no longer afford to provide its community meals service, which brought daily hot meals to about 350 vulnerable, mainly elderly people. It cost the city about $300,000 per year to administer. The local council asked Moore to cut that cost to zero.

Many families in Sefton were already facing really hard times. Sefton used to be a rich city with a…

(Shutterstock/SurfsUp)

This week marks a full year since city lockdowns began proliferating to stop the spread of COVID-19. And that means this is also the one-year anniversary of the start of one of the most prolific periods of urban innovation in history.

When seniors and others at risk couldn’t go out to buy food or medicines, city leaders mobilized volunteers to build pop-up delivery services. When laid-off workers couldn’t pay rent, cities passed eviction moratoriums and created housing-assistance funds. …

Over the past 10 months, Burlington, Vt., Mayor Miro Weinberger has repeated a motto that’s guided his city hall throughout the COVID-19 crisis: “In a global pandemic, local actions matter.” And his words have proven to be much more than lip service: Whether it was investing in local mask manufacturing or doubling down on local testing capacity, Burlington’s efforts have helped the city hold the line against the virus and maintain one of the lowest overall infection rates in the country.

Now, Weinberger hopes his city of 43,000 can carry that momentum over to the effort to get residents vaccinated…

Thanks to the race for COVID-19 vaccines, the results of “randomized control trials” are now dinner-table conversation around the world — even for people who aren’t scientists or data geeks.

But the term has also been popping up more and more in city halls recently, and for a very different reason: Randomized control trials are increasingly seen as a critical innovation tool, one that can help city leaders experiment safely and build programs based on evidence that they work.

In our latest explainer, Bloomberg Cities breaks down the basics of what randomized control trials are all about in the local…

By James Anderson, Bloomberg Philanthropies Government Innovation program lead

The past year has been like no other, placing mayors at the frontline of compounding crises the likes of which we’ve never seen before. Yet, as the surging pandemic, a plummeting economy, and cries for social justice tested them — and their residents — again and again and again, city leaders did much more than stand vigil. They fought back in ways we never could have imagined just 10 months ago.

Mayors responded by innovating like their residents’ lives and livelihoods depended on it — because, of course, they did. In…

Bloomberg Cities

Celebrating public sector progress and innovation in cities around the world. Run by @BloombergDotOrg’s Government Innovation program. bloombergcities.org

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