Bold ideas to create jobs and solve real city challenges

NYCx will open urban spaces as test beds for new technologies.

Through NYCx, the City of New York engages the tech industry to solve real-world problems and call on the tech vanguard to make NYC the most fair, equitable, and sustainable city in the world.

  • Co-Lab Challenges invite startups and entrepreneurs to work directly with community residents to solve neighborhood challenges while aiming to scale solutions for common issues for all New Yorkers.
  • Moonshot Challenges encourage global entrepreneurs to think big about NYC’s most ambitious problems, propose bold solutions, and deliver groundbreaking business models that transform and improve the lives of city dwellers globally.

Thanks to a partnership with The Boston Consulting Group, Bain & Company, and a team of skilled volunteers, Civic Consulting USA is a key part of of this new program.

A diverse group of technology and community luminaries are guiding NYCx, including:

“NYCx will transform the relationship between city government, community and the tech industry to be more collaborative and inclusive,” says Miguel Gamiño, Jr., New York City Chief Technology Officer.  “If we can test and solve critical challenges together in NYC and achieve our City’s goals, we can offer these solutions for other cities facing similar issues.”

Building a better bond court

Guest writer Asheley Van Ness, Associate Principal, Civic Consulting Alliance, Chicago

For two years, Civic Consulting Alliance and our partners have been helping to address issues in the criminal justice system, including revamping Cook County Central Bond Court.

We have been working with Cook County’s criminal justice stakeholders—the Cook County Board President, Sheriff, Chief Judge, State’s Attorney, Public Defender, Clerk, the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts, and the Illinois Supreme Court—to reduce the detainment of non-violent individuals.

As a result of this collaboration, 2,400 fewer people are detained every day in Cook County Jail and nearly half of all individuals are released from Bond Court without having to post a money bail, compared to Bond Court proceedings two years ago.

This collaboration has included seven projects and eight pro bono partners since its start. As one example, CannonDesign worked with the stakeholders and former detainees to understand the challenges created by the current physical design of the courtroom.  The team identified several factors that prevent judges from receiving the information needed to make well-informed, fair decisions and that limit the public’s understanding of court proceedings. CannonDesign then created designs to address the physical problems and transform the courtroom into an environment that commands dignity and decorum and facilitates better decision-making.

The stakeholders all agreed to the proposed changes, and construction of the new courtroom is scheduled to begin.

By changing the physical courtroom design, we hope to improve trust and mutual respect between everyone in the courtroom, ensure judges receive the information they need to make fair bond decisions, and ultimately improve outcomes for detainees.

“The redesign of the Central Bond Court presented us with a compelling, challenging design problem, which affects many of our fellow citizens on a daily basis,” said Delia Conache, a project architect at CannonDesign. “Our team greatly enjoyed the close partnership with Civic Consulting Alliance over the course of the project, as well as the close collaboration with the stakeholder agencies involved.”

Mentor recruitment receives a
boost from LinkedIn

Guest writer Business Mentor NY explains the benefits of skills-based volunteering.

 

LinkedIn + CivicUSABusiness Mentor NY began working with LinkedIn and Civic Consulting to connect with pro bono professionals throughout New York State.  Civic Consulting connected Business Mentor NY with LinkedIn’s Volunteer Marketplace, a site for professionals to identify and pursue skills-based volunteering opportunities.

In a survey, 82% of LinkedIn members stated that they wanted to volunteer their skills.

“Business Mentor NY is a great opportunity for LinkedIn members to do just that, use their professional skills for social good,” said Alison Dorsey of LinkedIn.

The relationship with LinkedIn’s Volunteer Marketplace is a huge win for Business Mentor NY, enabling us to discover and connect with professionals who have expressed interest in high-quality, skills-based volunteering opportunities.  And there are quite a few, as over one-million LinkedIn members have indicated that they would like to do skills-based volunteering!

Professionals are actively seeking out volunteer opportunities to leverage their skill sets make a positive impact on the world outside work.  LinkedIn members also love Business Mentor NY, with hundreds of professionals applying to mentor our businesses.

Skills-based volunteering is good for your career, too.
Volunteering is a great way to develop leadership skills, expand your professional network, and obtain new skills by trying new approaches. In a LinkedIn survey, 42% of hiring managers stated that they consider volunteer work equivalent to full-time work experience. And 20% said they had hired someone because of her or his volunteer experience.

Try your passion on for size.
Everyone dreams of earning a living from what they love doing.  Volunteering is a great way to test-drive your passion as a career.  It’s an opportunity to do what you enjoy in a low-risk setting and also highlight your talents, which could prepare you for that dream job.

You never know who you’ll connect with.
Volunteering exposes you to people you would not encounter otherwise.  Who knows, maybe you’ll help the next cronut-maker or Steve Jobs get off the ground!

Learn more about Business Mentor NY today!

Leading, learning and connecting through pro bono

Guest writer Melissa Neugebauer, Manager, A.T. Kearney, Inc., shares some of her experiences bringing business strategy consulting skills to a mayoral transition effort.

 

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It’s refreshing to step out of the corporate world for a bit and do a pro bono project. There is a lot that the public and private sectors can learn from each other.

When the new mayor of NYC was coming into office, I had the chance to work with the transition team as a pro bono consultant. Our team (drawn from a few different firms) was part of shaping the future of one America’s greatest cities, with a large and diverse population.

Honestly, I was unsure of how the partners from other firms would come together, but Civic Consulting USA did an excellent job of providing structure and leading the team to accomplish a lot in a short time period.

In this case, each member of the team worked with a subcommittee, and I was in charge of technology. This subcommittee was filled with leaders of some of the city’s largest technology companies, tech entrepreneurs and investors, and academics.

I was able to strengthen my executive communication and leadership skills by planning and conducting workshops with this influential group. I also built a great network of professionals that I still keep in touch with since the project has completed.

At the beginning of any major transition there are lots of big ideas and goals. One of the areas that Civic Consulting USA along with their pro bono partners excelled in was bringing a pragmatic and thorough approach, prioritizing and creating action plans to bring these big ideas to life.

We left the mayor’s new team with a solid start to running the largest and most complicated city in America – and if you can do that here you can do it anywhere!

“An exciting opportunity to help launch a new, multi-agency New York State efficiency effort”

M Lachapelle
Mike LaChapelle, Access GE Team Leader, GE Capital

Delays for customer service requests dropped 80% following a two-day Kaizen event I facilitated with a major state agency.  I was impressed by the support and involvement from very senior leaders in the administration who personally offered their time and commitment to make the project happen, right down to the front-line staff who exhibited a real can-do attitude.

For me, it was an exciting opportunity to help launch a new, multi-agency New York State efficiency effort.  In part, helping out this way is what GE employees do:  each year we volunteer 1.3 million hours in our communities.  Moreover, this type of service has been central to my career.  In my 28 years with GE, I’ve helped local school systems, chambers of commerce, community colleges, and other non-profit organizations to improve their operations.

When you provide pro bono services, you want the team you’re working with to be as committed as you are. The New York State team leaders made my job easy by gathering all the data needed in advance and completing process maps of the key functions.  During the Kaizen event, the participants were open to new ideas and quickly implemented the changes required to reduce customer lead times.  The support provided by the IT team was invaluable in quickly implementing systems changes, as well as moving and installing computer hardware.

After the Kaizen event, I shared the great experience that I had with some of the GE Lean Leaders in the Capital District.  I have enlisted the help of three of my GE colleagues, Michael Noble-Jack and Jeff Skinkle of GE Power & Water, and Steve Kearney of GE Healthcare, to help facilitate future Kaizen events and support the expansion of the effort in 2014.  They are all as excited as I am to share our expertise to help New York State and our local communities.

Imagine no more waiting in line

Imagine government without waiting lines.  Government where you were never put on hold when you called.  Government where you got a permit or license in a few days instead of a few months.   Well, it’s beginning to happen – and one of the tools governments increasingly use is a process called “Lean.“

Michael HickeyLean was developed on automotive assembly lines as a strategy for building cars faster with fewer defects, but Lean has applications for any process.  Going step-by-step through systems, programs and regulations, Lean seeks to improve or eliminate parts that are prone to waits, rejections and resubmissions, bottlenecks, or doing more than what the customer really wants.

Here’s an example from the private sector, where Lean grew up:

Western Union had a problem.  In order to add a new sales agent to their network, applications went through a labyrinthine 19-day process.  Applications passed through the hands of dozen staff who sorted, recorded, reviewed and batched the paperwork before sending it to the next person.  Surely it could be sped up a bit?

So Western Union decided to bring the team together – everyone from bosses to the sorting clerk – and take a hard look at all the steps.  Was there a better way to conduct the handful of required background checks and schedule training with the new sales agent?

Using Lean, the team spent two days reviewing the entire process, asking, “Does every step help us deliver exactly what our new sales agents need, while complying with federal agencies and our own business requirements?”  If not, they took that step out.

They found that by calling the new sales agent first (instead of at the end of the process), they could verify most of the information over the phone.  Better still, one person could do the entire process, eliminating all that waiting as the application passed from hand to hand.  In the end, the new process went from 19 days to… 22 minutes

As you can imagine, Lean is common in a variety of industries including manufacturing, finance, and health care.  Wouldn’t it be great if we could use Lean to help government do its job more effectively as well?

It turns out that a number of cities and states are doing just this:

These may seem like small wins, but the effects are cumulative.  For instance, Fort Wayne has been rigorous in implementing Lean, applying it to over 100 projects and saving they city some $30 million, or nearly 16% of their total expense budget!

What’s incredible about many of these public sector efforts is that private corporations in manufacturing, finance and health care are donating the expertise to teach Lean to state workers, coaching them to use the same process the private sector folks use routinely.

If you’re reading this and you have expertise that you’d like to offer, then contact us and we’ll work with your firm to make a difference right in your home town.