United States


Steve Schewel


267,743 (2017)

Innovation Website
Lead Innovation Officer

Ryan Smith

Innovation is helping to:
  • Improve resident outcomes

  • Improve internal government operations

  • Save costs and improve efficiency within the public sector

Critical success factors:
  • Leadership from Mayor

  • Culture of innovation in city

  • Support from outside city administration

Spotlight on innovation in Durham

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, Durham has an explicit innovation strategy. Similar to more than half of cities surveyed, Durham approaches innovation capacity both from a holistic/macro level, as well as in specific policy areas.

Policy areas that Durham is focused on

Social inclusion and equity
Policy areas by number of cities

Durham utilizes 5 different innovation skills or roles

Project manager
Data scientist
Community engagement staff
Innovation roles by number of cities

Situated in the Budget and Management Services, Durham’s dedicated team for innovation – Office of Performance and Innovation – consists of 1 staff.

Terms Durham most associates with innovation

Human-centered design

Durham'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
Engaging residents in new ways
  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

Its innovation activities also include facilitating organizational change within the municipal administration; and human-centered design.

How is innovation funded here?

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

Top sources of funding

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.
Non-financial resources
Non-financial resources
This could include staff on loan and/or other in-kind contributions (e.g. materials, infrastructure…)

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

Durham also invests in digital systems.

How is innovation measured?

Durham 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 academia, think tanks, and private philanthropy to collect and analyze data, as well as with other cities.

Data availability by policy area


Sufficient data


Housing and built environment

Policing and law enforcement


Waste and sewage

Environment and climate change

Digital governance

Insufficient data

Economic Development


No Response


Labour market and skills


Social inclusion and equity

Public works