Dear Cincinnati (or Cincy as you are so affectionately called),
Our team read a lot about you, and we couldn't have been more excited to meet you at the end of August. The trip lived up to our expectations. You were incredibly hospitable and we learned a lot from our time together.
We first met with the Department of Transportation and Engineering to talk about their construction coordination system called the Cincinnati Area Geographic Information System (CAGIS). CAGIS enables the city, the county, utility companies, and others to work together to coordinate any construction that involves opening up the road. The program fosters a dig once strategy that has reduced the number of times a road is cut into. This group also spoke about the way that Cincinnati approaches road reconstruction and their plan to create more complete streets.
"WE CAN DO IT. OTHER CITIES HAVE FACED SOME OF THE SAME ISSUES THAT SYRACUSE FACES TODAY."
Our next meeting was with the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD), who provided us with a comprehensive overview of the city's sewer system and their asset management system. MSD's asset management system uses a formula which accounts for both the likelihood of a potential sewer break and the consequence of a potential sewer break. Every sewer in the city is graded based upon these criteria, and then scored by the asset management system. The scores from this system prioritize the sewers for repair, so that MSD can make improvements in a logical and coherent fashion.
We ended our first day in Cincinnati by talking to to Greater Cincinnati Water Works (GCWW) who gave us a behind the scenes look into the work that they are doing. They demoed their software system, discussed the prioritization of their pipe replacements, and shared incredible insight into advancing a water system.
"WE ARE NOT ALONE. ALTHOUGH EVERY CITY IS DIFFERENT, THEY ARE ALL TRYING TO BECOME MORE RESILIENT AND IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF LIFE OF THEIR CITIZENS."
During our second day in Cincinnati we spent our time with the Office of Performance and Data Analytics. We met with the Chief Performance Officer, the CincyStat team, and the Chief Data Officer. This day focused on how Cincinnati uses data to tell the story of the city, make improvements, encourage accountability, facilitate innovation, and inform decision making. We were invited to participate in GCWW's stat meeting (called WaterStat) and also MSD's stat meeting (called SewerStat). Both departments looked at data that dealt with their customer service practices. You can see the presentations for these meeting here.
We concluded our trip, by touring Smale Riverfront Park, which was incredibly beautiful and inspiring. (You'll hear more about this in a later blog post!)
Cincy, you taught us so much, and reminded us of some common principles to follow in Syracuse:
• Data infrastructure plays a dynamic role in city management and overall decision making.
• Data and Performance metrics can be mechanisms that tell unique stories of departments and cities.
"IT'S IMPORTANT FOR CITIES TO HAVE A GROWTH MINDSET."
• We are not alone. Although every city is different, they are all trying to become more resilient and improve the quality of life of their citizens.
• We can do it. Other cities have faced some of the same issues that Syracuse faces today. They've banded together, and although challenging at times, are working to achieve their goals and improve their municipalities, just like us.
• You should look at infrastructure as an asset that needs to be constantly managed and tracked.
• Crafting a culture that builds internal competency can enable departments and employees to develop solutions to issues they face daily. It can even encourage city employees to get creative and design their own systems to address municipal issues.
• It is important for cities to maintain a growth mindset. This can be accomplished by consistently researching the best practices of other cities, learning about emerging technologies, and growing capabilities to meet the ever-changing world.
In the coming weeks as we progress through the second stage of ideation into implementation, we hope to leverage some of the great things that we learned in Cincinnati.
Thank you again Cincy. We left inspired, hopeful, and full of excitement.
Our deepest appreciation,