Celebrating Civic Innovation at The NewDEAL

Sep 7, 2017   |   Mariko Davidson

Photo: Leila Pedersen, Twitter:‏ @leilaped

Earlier this summer, I joined The NewDEAL (Developing Exceptional American Leaders) for a two-day Ideas Summit at Thumbtack’s office in San Francisco. It was an exciting gathering with 100+ civic and industry leaders from across sectors to brainstorm on government and civic innovation.

The summit focused on exchanging ideas around The Future of Work, Fostering Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and What’s Working at the State and Local Levels. I was lucky to host a session on Smart Communities alongside Charles Belle of Startup Policy Lab. Together, Charles and I worked less as moderators, focusing instead to analyze and discuss how technology can help improve our communities with our group.

In our Smart Communities session, we focused on how governments are using civic tech and data to empower citizens through digital services. I was honored that our session included the insight of such civic leaders including Mayor Lempert of Princeton, New Jersey; City Council President Gaylor Baird, Lincoln Nebraska; Councilwoman McClellan, Norfolk, Virginia; and others.

Throughout the summit, we focused on the municipal angle of how technology and automation are increasingly affecting our cities and our workers. As developing leaders, technology and its intersect with government is a thrilling (albeit difficult) path to explore. Together, we can lever civic innovation to make government work for everybody.

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Mariko Davidson
Mariko Davidson

As San Francisco’s Civic Innovation and Partnerships Strategist, Mariko builds civic initiatives across sectors to leverage technology for the public good. She brings a deep expertise in cities, formally trained as an urban planner at MIT, specializing in governance, data policy and transportation. As an Innovation Fellow for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, she launched the Commonwealth’s new Open Data Initiative where she also worked on data management policy, data governance, and privacy issues. There she brokered the first multi-municipal open data agreement between Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville. She also served in the Boston Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics where she focused on maker technology and girls STEM education programs. In 2015 she ran a close race for Cambridge City Council. Most recently she led the civic-focused Engagement Lab @ Emerson College as their Managing Director where she established partnerships with organizations including the UNDP Egypt, Living Cities, and the World Wildlife Fund. Prior to this, she worked across Asia on city-focused initiatives with the East-West Center and ITDP (Institute for Transportation Development & Policy).

She holds a Master in City Planning from MIT. Off hours you can find Mariko riding her bicycle or surfing the nearest coastline. In 2010 she traveled around the world on $25/day with a small backpack and her surfboard. She owes her love of community and loathing of traffic to Honolulu, her home.

Come talk to her if you want to chat cities, data policy, equity, transportation, and technology.