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Philadelphia City Hall. Photo from theconstituational.com
Philadelphia City Hall. Photo: theconstitutional.com

Philly Innovation Fund awards grants to improve government services

The seven grants will cover a number of different areas, including health, environment, and animal services.

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The City of Philadelphia’s Innovation Fund has announced seven grants, totaling more than $45,000, to help improve government functions and ultimately benefit Philly residents.

These grants were selected among 15 applications after a call for "pilot program ideas from across City government" by the Innovation Working Group, an advisory team comprised of City employees.

The grants will allow the launch of several initiatives designed to enhance services provided by the City.

“The Innovation Fund demonstrates that innovation is alive and well in the City’s many operational departments, and that many of our workers are creative thinkers who are committed to improving services for all residents,” Andrew Buss, Deputy Chief Information Officer for Innovation Management, said in a press release.

The grants will cover a number of different areas, including health, environment, and animal services.

As described in the announcement, the seven projects the grants will go towards are:

  • Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet / Managing Director’s Office – Clean Futures / $7,500

The Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet will partner with Keep Philadelphia Beautiful and the Philadelphia School District to launch a pilot of the Litterati application in 75 public schools, allowing students of all ages to learn about and directly impact litter, consumption and the environment surrounding their neighborhoods.

  • Office of Transportation of Infrastructure Systems (oTIS) – Prototype Bike Corrals / $7,500

Working with local makers, oTIS will develop a prototype bike corral to prevent illegal car parking in front of a fire hydrant and creatively meet an increased demand for bike parking in Philadelphia. The corrals will preserve access for hose hook up and equipment mobilization during fires, and include a tall visual guide to alter firefighters to hydrant locations.

  • Animal Care & Control (ACCT) – Mobile Dispatch and Information System / $6,600

ACCT is piloting a tech-based, computer-aided dispatching program that provides more efficient animal control responses to residents. The program requires installation of laptops, stands and hotspots in Animal Control Officer vehicles. That will allow officers to be able to respond to calls for service and enter animal information into software in real time, which will save time and money for the department, and improve services to the public.

  • Philadelphia Fire Department – Upgrading PFD-TV / $7,500

The Fire Department relies heavily on video and online material to train and communicate with its workforce, comprising of many diverse members. By upgrading their video equipment, software and programming, the department will be able to offer more, higher quality, and engaging training and educational materials to both firefighters and emergency responders, as well as the public.

  • Public Health – Sharps Disposal / $7,500

The Philadelphia Department of Public Health is proposing a pilot project to identify and address the needs for safe sharps (opioid needle) disposal areas across City departments and among the community, including non-profits and businesses. PDPH plans to assess community concerns, offer portable sharps disposal containers and ensure their safe removal. These containers would be in addition to the larger disposal systems that are currently planned for distribution.

  • Department of Human Services / Mayor’s Office of Grants – Penn Museum Virtual Learning Pilot / $7,478

Philadelphia’s Juvenile Justice Services Center will team with the Penn Museum for year-long educational opportunities for youth who are currently held in the City’s Juvenile Center School (a public school). Programs include Unpacking the Past, onsite programs offering hands-on lessons that boost critical thinking. Virtual Programs will offer the students connections to global educators and professionals through real-time video connections.

  • Air Management Services – Asbestos Webinar / $1,080

AMS is proposing to develop a series of webinar trainings for approximately 200 Asbestos Project Inspectors. Currently, the trainings are only offered in person, and moving them trainings towards a more modern, tech-based platform would allow for innovations in both the delivery and the material of the course itself. That would make it more effective and responsive to the needs of both the facilitators and the participants.

“The Mayor’s Fund is pleased to encourage these innovative practices and process improvements that can be applied to city government,” Rich Levins, the Mayor’s Fund volunteer Board Chair and Vice President & Deputy General Counsel for Independence Blue Cross, said in a press release.

The grant application was open to all Philadelphia employees, and the winners were assessed on a number of criteria, including process improvement, novelty and value creation, delivery of public services, government relations andcross-departmentall collaboration.

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