Adel Ebeid is chief innovation and information officer of Philadelphia — and since joining the city government in 2011, he’s been on a roll. Ebeid deftly manages the dual nature of his position, shoring up key city systems on one hand and disrupting the status quo on the other.

Shortly after arriving, he launched a $120 million initiative to upgrade the technology behind eight core city functions, including licensing and permitting, 311, property management and revenue collection. He also signaled that his approach to those upgrades wouldn’t be business as usual.

“We want to get to a place very soon where we’re buying services, not hardware and software,” he told industry representatives during a 2012 conference. “CIOs focused on building data centers are going to miss the opportunity to do some really strategic things.”

On the innovation side, Ebeid — with the backing of Mayor Michael Nutter — built a formidable innovation team, adding a chief data officer in late 2012 and a civic technology director last year. They’ve been the catalyst for an innovation ecosystem built around civic hackathons, software startups and venture capitalists — all aimed at meeting community needs.

It’s an approach that’s making Philadelphia both a civic technology hot spot and a better place to live.

“We talk about innovating with intent,” Ebeid said last year. “If it’s not improving people’s lives, it’s not worth doing.”

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Steve Towns, Editor Steve Towns  |  Editor

Steve Towns is editor of Government Technology, and executive editor for e.Republic Inc., publisher of GOVERNING, Government TechnologyPublic CIO and Emergency Management magazines. He has more than 20 years of writing and editing experience at newspapers and magazines, including more than 15 years of covering technology in the state and local government market.