Last week the Intelligent Cities USA 2024 Summit was held in Detroit, MI and a number of City of Philadelphia employees were invited to attend and participate as speakers. The gathering was open to innovators shaping future-focused and intelligent cities.

The two-day event brought together public sector leaders from across the United States and Canada to network, share best practices, and elevate ideas and technologies. The agenda included panels about a variety of topics including the future of urban mobility, digital transformation, and citizen-centric services.

The agenda also featured three City Spotlight panels: Detroit, Atlanta, and Philadelphia. Philadelphia’s Spotlight focused on the arc of innovation since the Innovation Ecosystem department was created in 2014. The panel was led by four City employees within the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) and the Office of Innovation and Technology (OIT).

  • Deputy CIO Andrew Buss shared how our resident-facing work has evolved and grown over the years, and how we continue to create change within municipal government through our innovation programming.
  • Hannah Louie, Operations Transformation Fund (OTF) Program Manager, talked about how the OTF supported innovative city projects and influenced the process for future initiatives.
  • Ashley Pollard, former Digital Equity Manager and current Deputy Director for Implementation, recounted how the City implemented major technology changes and developed the PHLConnectED program to support public technology needs during the pandemic. She also shared how this work influences her current role as she executes the Resident Service Delivery Initiative, a result of Executive Order 2-24.
  • Kelsey Hubbell, Communications, Engagement and Outreach Manager for CAO and OIT, talked about the importance of cross-departmental collaboration, building trust, and providing City employees with resources and opportunities to think creatively about government problems.

The conference was a great opportunity to network and learn from municipal leaders from cities all over the US, Canada, and as far as Australia. Although the subject matter was generally technology and data focused, the common thread through most discussions was people.

As cities continue to modernize and embrace technology such as AI, we must keep humans at the center of our work. Residents rely on government services, and deserve them to be accessible, inclusive, and reliable. As public sector workers, we must remember technology advances, our first priority is to provide approachable services for our communities.