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Pittsburgh Kicks Off 'Inclusive Innovation Week'

City officials host more than 60 events to harness support from community groups and citizens for citywide civic innovation strategy.

by / April 1, 2016
Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto discusses the city's Inclusive Innovation Roadmap last fall when the digital strategy was released to the public. The City of Pittsburgh

Innovators and city officials are converging on Pittsburgh today for the launch of the inaugural Inclusive Innovation Week.

Pittsburgh’s event, which runs from April 1-9, is meant to rally entrepreneurship and civic invention while advancing Pittsburgh’s Roadmap for Inclusive Innovation, the city’s digital master plan. The gathering’s 60 events and 31 participating organizations spotlight the roadmap’s six focus areas: strategies for civic engagement, open data, service delivery, clean technology, economic development, and bridging the digital divide in low-income areas.

“Our city has always found pride in its accomplishments, and it is in this same spirit that we have challenged our city government to adapt and change in order to meet the challenges of the digital age,” wrote Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto and Chief Innovation & Performance Officer Debra Lam in a letter on the city’s website.

Coordinated by Pittsburgh’s Department of Innovation & Performance and the Urban Redevelopment Authority, the city also is working with organizations like innovation group TedX, maker movement workshop group Tech Shop, and local universities like the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon.

For its part, Carnegie Mellon plans to host a hack night with Students for Urban Data Systems on April 7 that will bring in speakers to talk about data projects. The city has also lined up a Pittsburgh Technology Innovation Meetup on April 5 where Lam and Audrey Russo, from the Pittsburgh Technology Council, will speak at the new BNY Mellon Innovation Center to detail how the community can participate in innovation.

“We’re really trying to mobilize and make sure those opportunities are available for more people,” Lam told Government Technology.

Other events the city is showcasing include Steel City Codefest, a series of citizen and youth coding meetups and the Small Business Resource Fair, that aims to connect entrepreneurs with Pittsburgh resources and stakeholders. Nina Barbuto of the arts and tech nonprofit Assemble said in a city release that the many events are hoped to cultivate greater unity and civic progress.

“Innovation is our future and the future is for everyone. It's important to be consciously inclusive with aspects of equity for a truly innovative society,” Barbuto said. “Our past, or ‘the way things were,’ holds barriers to everyone's participation. [Inclusive Innovation Week] is our chance to actually bring everyone to the table.”

Pittsburgh is using its event site to promote happenings, and invite citizens and visitors to participate.