Just because a city is small doesn’t mean it can’t be innovative. Here are six ways that cities with a population under 100,000 people are using technology to provide creative and forward-looking services both internally and for citizens. From transparency to connectivity to rethinking the customer experience, these local governments prove that size doesn’t matter.
In October 2014, Manassas, Va., population 42,000, launched an online map where residents enter their address and get a carousel of information like when city contractors will come by to pick up trash, recycling, leaves and yard waste. It’s a means of improving the customer experience by streamlining the process of determining when to do what, according to Manassas GIS Coordinator Margaret Montgomery. It’s also a big improvement over how the city used to do things. -- Ben Miller
Through the suite of online tools made available by Albany, Ore., population 52,000, citizens can delve into how the city is allocating project funding and spending taxpayer money. City expenditures are updated daily at the close of business and available for the public within a few hours of the upload. After the city’s data was published online, formatting it in a more digestible, visual way became the focus of staff and a third-party vendor. -- Eyragon Eidam
In Palo Alto, Calif., population 67,000, City Hall live in the jurisdiction's first Civic Technology Center -- a hub for municipal innovation initiatives and city IT services that opened in April 2015. The vision for the center is to become a co-creation space. Here, companies and startups can pitch partnership ideas. Citizens can participate in hackathons and meetups. Staff can find tech support via an Apple-like “Genius Bar.” It’s all the amenities of a startup but packaged for government. -- Jason Shueh
Shawnee, Kan., population 64,000, is reaping the benefits of a fiber master plan that dates back more than a decade. Creative partnerships and modest annual investments provide the city with a broadband network that supports schools and businesses, enables potential upgrades to cutting-edge technologies, and allows opportunities for continued growth. -- Colin Wood
Two texts. That’s all it takes to avoid potential stomach pains in Evanston, population 74,000. Or at least, that was the goal behind an endeavor that pairs the city’s restaurant inspection scores on Yelp with text message alerts for diners. When the SMS program launched early in 2015, it was a quiet release. In fact, Erika Storlie, Evanston’s deputy manager, described the undertaking as more of a four-month side project than anything else. -- Jason Shueh