PHILADELPHIA – The City of Philadelphia’s Innovation Fund today announced seven grants allowing City employees to launch pilot initiatives, with the goal of improving the services and functions of municipal government.

The start-up funds for the seven grants were chosen among 15 applicants by the Innovation Working Group, a cross-departmental advisory team of City employees who are trained and invested in seeding innovation. After inviting pilot program ideas from across City government, the Working Group then shortlists a group of finalists and helps them refine their ideas and prepare a final proposal. The Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia provides the funding for these grants from its annual operating budget, and final proposal decisions are made by the Mayor’s Fund Board .

“The Working Group gave consideration to many deserving and inventive ideas submitted by City employees,” said Andrew Buss, Deputy Chief Information Officer for Innovation Management. “The Innovation Fund demonstrates that innovation is alive and well in the City’s many operational departments, and that many of our workers are creative thinkers who are committed to improving services for all residents.”

“The Mayor’s Fund is pleased to encourage these innovative practices and process improvements that can be applied to city government,” said Rich Levins, the Mayor’s Fund volunteer Board Chair and Vice President, Deputy General Counsel for Independence Blue Cross.

The seven grants go to:

Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet / Managing Director’s Office – Clean Futures / $7,500
In partnership with Keep Philadelphia Beautiful and the School District, the Cabinet will launch a pilot of the Litterati application in 75 public schools, allowing students of all ages to learn about and directly impact litter, consumption and the environment in their neighborhoods.

Office of Transportation of Infrastructure Systems (oTIS) – Prototype Bike Corrals / $7,500
Working with local makers, oTIS will develop a prototype bike corral to prevent illegal car parking in front of a hydrant and creatively meet an increased demand for bike parking in Philadelphia. The corrals will preserve access for hose hook up and equipment mobilization during fires, and include a tall visual guide to alter fire fighters to hydrant locations.

Animal Care & Control (ACCT) – Mobile Dispatch and Information System / $6,600
ACCT is piloting a tech-based, computer aided dispatching program that provides more efficient animal control responses to residents. This requires installation of laptops, stands and hotspots in Animal Control Officer vehicles. Officers will be able to respond to calls for service and enter animal information into software in real time, saving time and money for the department, and improved services to the public.

Philadelphia Fire Department – Upgrading PFD-TV / $7,500
The Fire Department relies heavily on video and online material to train and communicate with its diverse, and non-traditional workforce. By upgrading their video equipment, software and programming, the department will be able to offer more, higher quality, and engaging training and educational materials to both firefighters and emergency responders, and the public.

Public Health – Sharps Disposal / $7,500
The Philadelphia Department of Public Health is proposing a pilot project to identify and address safe sharps (opioid needle) disposal needs across City departments and among the community, including non-profits and businesses. PDPH plans to assess community concerns, offer portable sharps disposal containers and ensure safe removal. These containers would supplement the larger disposal systems that are currently planned for distribution.

Department of Human Services / Mayor’s Office of Grants – Penn Museum Virtual Learning Pilot / $7,478
Philadelphia’s Juvenile Justice Services Center will team with the Penn Museum for year-long educational opportunities for youth currently being held in the City’s Juvenile Center School (a public school). Programs include Unpacking the Past, onsite programs offering hands-on lessons that boost critical thinking. Virtual Programs will offer connections to global educators and professionals through real-time video connections.

Air Management Services – Asbestos Webinar / $1,080
AMS is proposing to develop a series of webinar trainings for approximately 200 Asbestos Project Inspectors. Currently, the trainings are only offered in person, and moving to a more modern, tech-based platform would allow for innovations in the delivery and the material of the course itself, making it more effective and responsive to the needs of both facilitators and participants.

The grant application was open to all City of Philadelphia employees. The grant winners were assessed on several criteria, including:

  • Process Improvement: Creating better pathways, process, or systems that improve the quality, user experience, and/or efficiency of internal and external operations.
  • Novelty / Value Creation: Realizing and discovering new values in municipal government through the testing of alternative or creative processes, strategies, products, and services.
  • Delivery of Public Services: Advancing the work of municipal government through improved processes, development of new partnerships, or creative avenues for the delivery of public services.
  • Government Relations: Improving and cultivating stronger and meaningful relationships with the public through new strategies, services, or initiatives.
  • Cross Departmental Collaboration: Cultivating strategic partnerships within municipal government to strengthen government work through a more efficient and connected network of City workers.