Windy City Teams With Mastercard on Digital Infrastructure

Note from the Publisher:  Chicago is my default hometown (since nobody’s ever heard of Davis Junction, IL – my real hometown), so this article caught my eye today.  We often discuss the widening technological gap between the haves and have-nots, and that is one of the driving reasons for publishing this newsletter.  We want to showcase the breathless array of technological innovation affecting finance in all sectors, but we also want to forewarn of the potential for leaving a vast sector of have nots behind – via loss of jobs, lack of access to technology, etc – that may (will) occur as time and technologoical innovation advance.  So it was with great interest that we read that Mastercard and the City of Chicago have announced a pilot program to assess the state of the city’s digital infrastructure with the intent to improve it.  We strongly support this government/private sector collaboration.

“The City of Chicago today announced a pilot project in partnership with the Global Cities Business Alliance (GCBA) and Mastercard to improve the city’s digital infrastructure.

“This partnership will help solve the technology challenges Chicago faces today and in the future,” Chicago Deputy Mayor Steve Koch said. “I look forward to seeing the benefits this partnership will produce for residents throughout Chicago.”
In today’s era of accelerating urbanization, cities are increasingly looking to the technology sector for solutions to help them address a range of challenges from improving urban transport networks to the delivery of better public services. In many cities however, engaging in strategic discussions with the tech sector represents a significant challenge. This means that cities are missing out on informed input from the tech sector, which is in turn missing out on the opportunity to provide innovation to the cities.

Chicago has a long history of successful engagement with business, but has found that it does not have the same depth of engagement with the technology sector, especially around large-scale digital projects. The city has put itself forward as a ‘living lab’ within which GCBA can explore the issue, in partnership with Mastercard. The partnership will come at no cost to Chicago taxpayers.

Hany Fam, EVP, Mastercard Enterprise Partnerships, comments: “As a global technology company that’s working with major cities around the world, Mastercard understands the economic, social and environmental challenges stemming from rapid urbanization. We applaud the City of Chicago for pioneering a ‘living lab’ – as an optimized interaction between cities and their tech sectors can help drive inclusive growth and a better quality of life.”

The Global Cities Business Alliance seeks to improve the dialogue between cities and businesses and with the support of its Partners plans to expand this pilot to other global cities in the coming years.

Lesley Saville, Chief Executive, GCBA, adds: “Our research on city-business engagement and discussions at our recent Symposium have shown this to be a challenge for many cities. Our Partners are committed to working with cities to develop new ideas and new ways of working to ensure cities continue to thrive.”

The project will evaluate a selection of city-led projects in Chicago that required interaction between the city and the technology sector.

The City of Chicago will identify the projects for assessment, engage the relevant technical and business subject matter experts, and build connections to local partners to support the project, including Chicago Next and the Illinois Technology Association. Mastercard, with input from the city, will define the evaluation model and lead the data collection from identified projects.

The evaluation will highlight the challenges encountered and provide insight into how they might be overcome. In addition, with the support of the GCBA Secretariat, the project will seek to identify and share good practice in city-tech interaction.

The aim of the project is to develop a framework of common themes and interventions, identify ways in which to overcome barriers, and catalyse more effective future interactions between the city and the tech sector.
A first set of outputs and learnings will be presented at the 2017 Global Cities Symposium in New York on 12-14 June 2017.”

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