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Salt Lake City establishes innovation department

It was announced in mayor Erin Mendenhall’s state of the city address in which she shared her vision for a more resilient and equitable city and encouraged citizens to view a new report card of the council’s performance.

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Innovation department will drive projects that make government more nimble and cohesive
Innovation department will drive projects that make government more nimble and cohesive

Salt Lake City in Utah is to establish its first ever department dedicated to innovation. It was announced in mayor Erin Mendenhall’s state of the city address this week in which she shared her vision for a more resilient and equitable city.

 

She said the Innovation Department for the City will drive projects that make city government more nimble, efficient, and cohesive.

 

Live broadcast

 

The theme of the speech was "Striving for a better city through change" and it was broadcast live from the City Council Chambers of the City and County Building, with the mayor speaking directly to constituents in a live internet broadcast.

 

“The pre-Covid status quo was not good for everyone. It wasn’t just for everyone. It wasn’t safe for everyone and it wasn’t fair for everyone,” she said. “Instead of Salt Lake City getting back to normal and re-creating what it once was, we are striving to make our city better through change; to come out of this pandemic stronger, more resilient, more equitable, and more just than before.”

 

The Innovation Department forms a key part of the vision. “This team will lead out in creating a culture of innovation in city government, helping Salt Lake City to modernise business processes, standardise our approach to project management, improve public transparency, streamline inefficiencies, and promote the use of data to drive decisions,” she added.

“The pre-Covid status quo was not good for everyone. It wasn’t just for everyone. It wasn’t safe for everyone and it wasn’t fair for everyone”

The City will continue to build upon the overarching objectives her administration laid out at the outset of 2020: prioritising growth that equitably benefits city residents, making the city more environmentally resilient and sustainable, and bolstering communities with inclusive and equitable opportunities for all. 2021 marks.

 

She also stressed the importance of supporting city employees’ physical, mental, and economic wellbeing. Other objectives include developing an initial design for a “green loop” trail/park system that would encircle downtown. It is designed to enhance the physical, mental, and social health of urban residents as well as improve transportation choices for residents and visitors, and spur sustainable growth. Another objective includes bolstering Salt Lake City’s business and cultural districts, and identify funding for neighbourhoods to cultivate their sense of place and community pride.

 

Commitment to electrification

 

Earlier in January, the mayor and the city council established a joint commitment to incorporate and promote clean energy transportation technology as an important solution in reducing carbon emissions and pollutants that impact air quality.

 

The resolution includes goals of electrifying modes of transportation that have historically relied on gasoline, diesel or natural gas. Through the resolution, the City commits to expanding electric vehicles for its internal fleet and to working with external partners to electrify public transit and smart mobility platforms such as ride-share and car-share. Through expansion of electric vehicle infrastructure, the City aims to encourage greater adoption of electric vehicle technology by the public and non-government fleets.

 

“As our city continues its push toward better air quality and environmental resilience, distilling our goals for electric transportation and committing to shifting our fleet is the right move,” said Mendenhall.

 

“This is another solid step toward the City’s ongoing commitment to use cleaner energy and reduce pollution,” said City Council Chair Amy Fowler. “Both government and private industry must continue to take every action possible to enable clean fuel usage.”

“As our city continues its push toward better air quality and environmental resilience, distilling our goals for electric transportation and committing to shifting our fleet is the right move”

In 2018, the City created an Electrified Transportation Roadmap that set best practices for local governments in Utah regarding electrified transportation. Both the resolution and the roadmap will help the City achieve milestones identified in its ambitious Climate Positive 2040 plan, which sets two interrelated goals of reaching 100 per cent renewable community electricity by 2030 and reducing community greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.

 

On-road transportation contributes nearly 20 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in Salt Lake City, according to the Utah Department of Air Quality. Additionally, electrifying cars, trucks, and buses presents a substantial path toward reducing air pollution, as the transportation sector contributes to an estimated 48 per cent of the fine particulate matter during an inversion.

 

Earlier this week, mayor Mendenhall encouraged residents to view a report card assessing how the city fared on goals set out by the mayor at the beginning of 2020 before the pandemic struck.

“It’s a candid look at what we accomplished – and what we didn’t – and the work that’s ongoing on your behalf. I believe that if you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it. So, no matter what happens any given year of my administration, we’re going to measure it,” she said.

 

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