Local Gov 2.0: How L.A. and Chicago are Leveraging Tech to Manage Multiple Crises

  • Updated


The cities of Los Angeles and Chicago joined us for a webinar to share their use of data and technology throughout the COVID-19 crisis as well as discuss the road ahead. Our speakers included Amanda Daflos, the Chief Innovation Officer of the City of Los Angeles and Derrick Brownlee, the Managing Deputy Chief Information Officer of the City of Chicago.

Key Takeaways:

Using data to improve communication with residents on public health issues like mask-wearing is paramount.

  • The City of LA was the first city in the U.S. to promote mask-wearing. Following that decision they were able to track resident opinion on masks over the course of the following months to ensure that attitudes toward compliance remained high, thereby ensuring residents’ safety.

  • The City of Chicago monitored data and discussions related to COVID-19 to identify recurring questions and misconceptions and thereby communicate in a more nuanced manner with residents.

Understanding the pulse of residents and their priorities creates stronger engagement and action.

  • When the George Floyd and BLM protests broke out in the midst of COVID-19 it was important for the City of LA to understand, quantitatively, where residents’ priorities lied. It became very clear that the protests and police reform were a huge priority of residents and therefore, the city leaned into that by encouraging the protests to continue while promoting mask-wearing and safety.

  • The city also looked to the data before taking action on reforms to ensure that the actions they took actually aligned with residents’ nuanced asks.

Technology is key to quickly acting in times of crisis.

  • The city of Chicago’s response to COVID-19 involved acting quickly by implementing a number of key technologies, including a symptom tracking and testing app, a contact tracing mechanism, improvements to 311, and Zencity’s COVID-19 tools.

  • It is important to move fast on technology in times of crisis and not get bogged down by bureaucracy - these are the impactful tools that help keep the community safe.

  • A key recommendation from the City of Chicago is to always use SAAS partners (Software-as-a-Service) because they will be cheaper and more user-friendly than on-site server solutions.

  • A key recommendation from the City of LA is that not every app or product is good or useful and it is important to check if it is a good fit for your city.

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