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SXSW 2019: U.S. Mayors Weigh In, Armed with New Ideas

The collaborative environment offered at South by Southwest has made an impact on local government leaders. They share their thoughts and what they will be taking back to their respective communities.

AUSTIN, Texas — The presence of U.S. mayors is hard to miss if you have your finger on the political pulse of SXSW. During a media availability March 10, Government Technology caught up with a couple of mayors to talk takeaways and some of the challenges tech could help address back home.

Shreveport, La., Mayor Adrian Perkins talked about the part surveillance cameras would play in helping to lower the crime rate in his community, but also highlighted the need to move deliberately when it comes to issues of citizen privacy. He said hiring the city's first chief technology officer has been an asset to that effort.

His conversations with other mayors at South by Southwest have also prompted him to reconsider how Shreveport handles recycling.

For Mayor Shane Bemis of Gresham, Ore., the mayoral gathering forces thinking outside the daily routines of government operations. He referred to the exchange of ideas as the “infrastructure of thought.”

The experience is one he said will help to spark new strategies.

Lauren Harrison is the managing editor for Government Technology magazine. She has a degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley, and 15 years’ experience in book and magazine publishing.