Cities & Communities

2020 State of Digital Transformation
Eaves, David, and Lauren Lombardo. 2020. “2020 State of Digital Transformation”. Read the full report Abstract

David Eaves, Lauren Lombardo, February 2021 

Starting in 2018, every year, the State of Digital Transformation report documents the main lessons from a Digital Services Convening hosted at Harvard Kennedy School. In 2020, Harvard Kennedy School and Public Digital hosted a series of discussions on the coronavirus digital response. These gatherings, which included a wide range of digital service groups, highlighted success stories, lessons learned, and tools that digital teams could leverage or repurpose. 

This year's report highlights some of the new possibilities discussed at the convening and provides further reflections on crisis response. 

New Jersey state capitol building

What’s the Value of Being a State Capital?

February 10, 2021

Cambridge, MA -- In a new study released today by Harvard Kennedy School, Linda Bilmes, the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Senior Lecturer in Public Policy, and a team of researchers published a detailed examination of the costs and benefits that accrue to capital cities that come from hosting state government. Specifically, the study, launched at the request of Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora, examined the unique costs incurred by the City of Trenton and the overall economic value...

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Getting Value from Workforce Stimulus Investments: What Works in Youth Workforce Programs and How to Grow the Evidence Base

Jane Wiseman, November 2020 

The current economic crisis will likely inspire federal investment in training for unemployed and underemployed Americans. When funds are made available for youth workforce development, transparent reporting and publication of results data should be required. User-friendly reports should be created that enable unemployed and underemployed Americans to see which training providers achieve the best results, much as the current College Scorecard helps youth and their families evaluate colleges. This will benefit program recipients, the taxpayer, and society at large. Evidence about what works for youth workforce development is still in an early stage of maturity, so upcoming investments present an opportunity to advance the state of knowledge. With this data and insight, future investments can continue to fund effective programs and ineffective ones can be discontinued.

Moving Municipal Tech Out of the Typewriter Era

Boston likes to fashion itself as a global tech hub, proud of the legions of start-ups and tech workers who have made its economy the envy of cities around the country. Yet vestiges of Boston’s analog past can still be found, if you know where to look—such as in the long, brick-fronted building that sprawls over much of a block along Massachusetts Avenue in the city’s Dorchester neighborhood. From the building, which houses...

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Crisis Leadership Essentials for Mayors

Ash: Given your work with mayors throughout the U.S. and around the world, how would you assess the performance of mayors and other city leaders during the pandemic?  

De Jong: Mayors have been on the frontline of the pandemic, the economic fallout and the civil unrest over racial justice. Under normal circumstances, mayors have a tough job, as they are closest to the people and are...

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Q+A with Kimberlyn Leary

Ash: As a trained clinical psychologist, how did you come to work on negotiation and collaboration? 

Leary: Starting out, I provided direct clinical services at places like public clinics, and I had a chance to see firsthand how public service impacts families. Then, over time, rather than work on behalf of individuals and...

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The Analytics Playbook for Cities: A Navigational Tool for Understanding Data Analytics in Local Government, Confronting Trade-Offs, and Implementing Effectively

Amen Ra Mashariki and Nicolas Diaz, August 2020 

Properly used data can help city government improve the efficiency of its operations, save money, and provide better services. Used haphazardly, however, the use of analytics in cities may increase risks to citizens’ privacy, heighten cybersecurity threats, and even perpetuate inequities.

Given these complexities and potentials, many cities have begun to install analytics and data units, often head by a chief data officer, a new title for data-driven leaders in government. This report is aimed at practitioners who are thinking about making the choice to name their first CDO, start their first analytics team, or empower an existing group of individuals.

Elizabeth Patton, Gaylen Moore, and Jorrit de Jong; August 2020 

Throughout the spring of 2020, the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, in partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, held eleven sessions on crisis leadership for city leaders responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over those harrowing weeks, as city leaders scrambled to protect their community members from the disease and provide services to the ill, the bereaved, and the vulnerable, these sessions offered a space for them to share their stories, concerns, hopes, and plans—and to get answers to their most pressing questions about the pandemic and how to mitigate not just the spread of the virus but also the economic and social fallout of measures taken to contain it.

Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, August 2020 

Amanda McClelland, Senior Vice President of Prevent Epidemics at Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of the global health organization Vital Strategies, provided a briefing of critical public health information on COVID-19 in Latin America and Africa. Rawi Abdelal, Harvard Business School Professor and faculty co-chair of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative and Jennifer Musisi, the former executive director of Kampala, Uganda, and City Leader in Residence at the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, facilitated a discussion between Mayors Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr of Freetown, Sierra Leone; Claudio Castro of Renca, Chile; and Bettina Romero of Salta, Argentina, on lessons learned while leading their cities through the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.

New Research in Series Assisting Tribal Nations Navigate the COVID-19 Crisis

New Research in Series Assisting Tribal Nations Navigate the COVID-19 Crisis

July 24, 2020

Cambridge, MA – A team of researchers from Harvard University and the University of Arizona today released two policy briefs in their research series aimed at assisting tribal nations navigate the COVID-19 crisis, strengthen their governments, and emerge stronger than before.  


Policy Brief No. 4 

Emerging Stronger than Before:...

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At this time the Innovation Field Lab - Massachusetts is working with the following cities: 

  • Chelsea
  • Fitchburg
  • Lawrence
  • Salem
  • Winthrop