United States


Mike Duggan


673,104 (2017)

Innovation Website
Lead Innovation Officer

Megan Thibos

Innovation is helping to:
  • Improve service delivery

  • Improve internal government operations

  • Improve resident outcomes

Critical success factors:
  • Dedicated funding

  • Focus on measurement

  • Dedicated innovation team

  • Leadership from Mayor

  • Support from outside city administration

Spotlight on innovation in Detroit

Detroit has been operating various platforms to promote its innovation efforts. Improve Detroit is an application which allows residents to report problems in the city by sending geo-tagged photos to the appropriate departments for resolution. Detroit also connected over 50 data sources relevant to blight into a single demolition data platform to more effectively manage the blight demolition pipeline and increase transparency to residents.

Note: The City Innovation Snapshot (PDF version) was produced in 2019 and some aggregate findings have been updated with the latest survey results below.

Vision and approach to innovation capacity

Along with 50% of cities surveyed, Detroit does not have an explicit innovation strategy. Similar to 24% of cities surveyed, Detroit approaches innovation capacity in specific policy areas/domains.

Policy areas that Detroit is focused on

Policy areas by number of cities

Detroit utilizes 9 different innovation skills or roles

Project manager
Data scientist
Community engagement staff
Front-end developers
Back-end developers
Internet of things developers
Innovation roles by number of cities

Situated in the Mayor’s office, Detroit’s dedicated team for innovation consists of 5 staff. The city also has other relevant teams including Office of Mobility Innovation, Lean Team, and Department of Innovation and Technology.

Terms Detroit most associates with innovation

Data analytics

Detroit's most common innovation activities

Taking risks and testing new ideas
e.g. prototyping new programs or models to address a persistent city challenge
Promoting data-driven analytics / public data management
e.g. data storage/analytics; open data; big data
Facilitating organizational change within the municipality
e.g. silo-busting; new internal performance management; staff training and capacity building on innovation tools or techniques; reforms to contracting or procurement
  1. 1

    Taking risks or testing new ideas

  2. 2

    Data-driven analytics/public data management

  3. 3

    Engaging residents in new ways

  4. 4

    Developing new solutions based on digital technologies

  5. 5

    Organizational change within the municipality

  6. 6

    Human-centered design

  7. 7

    Rethinking your city’s approach to financing partnerships

How is innovation funded here?

Like 81% of cities surveyed, Detroit has dedicated funding to support innovation capacity.

Top sources of funding

Higher levels of government
Municipal budget
Municipal budget
This could include, for instance, City Council approved funds; operating budget; a special funding process (bond, Mayoral special initiative funding, etc.); and participatory budgeting / citizen-selected budgeting.
External funding
External funding
This could include private, philanthropic/non-profit and/or academic/think tank resources.

Activities being funded

Launching or sustaining a project
Idea generation & brainstorming
47 cities
Launching or sustaining a project
79 cities
Idea generation & brainstorming
51 cities
Investing in digital systems
36 cities
Investing in physical infrastructure
30 cities
Paying for services

Detroit also invests in digital systems and physical infrastructure.

How is innovation measured?

Detroit has developed partnerships to promote its innovation capacity with other public agencies, private firms, not-for-profit organizations, and city residents/resident associations.

To improve data use, the city has also developed data partnerships with the private sector, academia, and think tanks to collect and analyze data, as well as with other cities.

Data availability by policy area


Sufficient data


Housing and built environment



Insufficient data

Economic Development

Policing and law enforcement

Labour market and skills


Social inclusion and equity

No Response

Waste and sewage

Environment and climate change


Public works


Digital governance