CNCounty News

Counties invited to enter MetroLab’s Ideas Competition

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Key Takeaways

We at MetroLab Network are setting out to change the way that new insights — shaped by data and technology — impact your county’s activities. If you are like other counties, it’s a good bet that you are faced with new opportunities to leverage your data as a strategic asset. Or perhaps with opportunities to integrate new technologies into certain county activities.

These trends are pervasive across the country and the world. Indeed, local government is in a period of change. 

We are asking for your help in shaping that change — with the focus on ensuring that data and technology are leveraged to address the most pressing needs of your community.

That’s why we’re designing the Civic Innovation Challenge, a research and action competition that leverages social science, data, and technology to improve the services provided by local governments.

Learn More, Do More

More on the Civic Innovation Challenge

Dec. 7 webinar

Questions? Contact MetroLab Network

We are currently partnering with Smart Cities Lab to develop the Civic Innovation Challenge, which will launch in 2019 with anticipated support from federal partners at the National Science Foundation and other stakeholders.

That brings us back to the questions we introduced at the beginning.

If you’ve started crafting an answer — or set of answers — we want to hear from you.

We’ve launched an Ideas Competition, open through Jan. 31, that asks you — local government officials, community residents, and civic innovators — to submit the challenges that face your county government and community. The leading submissions will shape the topics we select for the Civic Innovation Challenge.

In other words, participation in the Ideas Competition is your opportunity to shape investments in county innovation.

What areas will the Ideas Competition explore? It’s focused on four areas:

  • Equity and access
  • Resilience
  • The Built Environment
  • Mobility

 Ultimately, it will shape the Civic Innovation Challenge and direct research and deployment funding towards local government challenges in those areas.

What is required for a submission to the Ideas Competition?

The Civic Innovation Challenge is about harnessing the power of research and discovery to advance civic priorities. As such, we recommend that submissions to the Ideas Competition come from teams.

We encourage counties to work with their colleagues from across sectors — academia, government, philanthropy, non-profit and industry — to craft submissions.  If you have a great idea and would like to submit on your own, that’s great too. 

What is an example of an idea for the Ideas Competition?

Here’s one: How can we use mapping, sensing and data-sharing to design and build places where all individuals — including those in strollers and wheelchairs, on bikes and on foot, and with walkers or canes — get around safely and efficiently?

What happens after the Ideas Competition?

Those that offer the best submissions to the Ideas Competition will be invited to attend an Ideas Festival in early 2019 with the National Science Foundation, MetroLab, and Smart Cities Lab to help craft and design the Civic Innovation Challenge.

The Civic Innovation Challenge will provide significant resources to address the challenges identified during this design phase.

If you are interested in learning more, MetroLab Network will be hosting a webinar on Dec. 7, which you can sign up for at Additional questions can be directed to the team at, and you can follow on Twitter @NSFCIC.

More about MetroLab Network: MetroLab Network is a national collaborative of cities, counties and universities focused on bringing data, tech, and analytics to local government.

Smart Cities Lab is a peer-to-peer network, stitching together investments in new mobility across multiple cities into a single platform.

The National Science Foundation is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 whose mission includes support for all fields of fundamental science and engineering.

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