Glendale, CA

United States


Zareh Sinanyan


206,283 (2019)

Innovation Website
Lead Innovation Officer

Elena Bolbolian

Innovation is helping to:
  • Improve internal government operations

  • Save costs and improve efficiency within the public sector

  • Simplify administrative procedures for firms and residents

Critical success factors:
  • Dedicated funding

  • Focus on measurement

  • Dedicated innovation team

  • Human resource support

  • Culture of innovation in city

  • Support from outside city administration

  • Leadership from Mayor

Spotlight on innovation in Glendale, CA

Glendale initially adopted its innovation strategy in response to the state of California’s 2012 elimination of local redevelopment agencies (in order to create efficiencies and maintain existing service levels with fewer resources). The Department of Innovation, Performance, and Audit (IPA) was created to institutionalize an innovation and data-based approach to governance. The IPA conducts targeted research and data analysis, runs pilot programs, and assesses city services using a human-centered design approach. The department also conducts audits to ensure transparency and accountability, and publishes data visualization dashboards of Key Performance Indicators on several topics including the city budget and Covid-19.

Vision and approach to innovation capacity

Along with 50% of cities surveyed, Glendale, CA has an explicit innovation strategy. Similar to more than half of cities surveyed, Glendale, CA approaches innovation capacity both from a holistic/macro level, as well as in specific policy areas.

Policy areas that Glendale, CA is focused on

Digital governance
Labour market and skills

Digital governance: Glendale's Innovation Team has focused on augmenting digital governance across City Hall. By collaborating with other departments, the team has been able to improve city services through new features such as digital signatures and automated fee calculators. The team has also championed a user-centered approach to the City's web presence, utilizing user research to help shape the form and function of police and fire recruitment websites.

Labor market and skills: The innovation team partnered with Glendale's Community Development Department, the Glendale Unified School District, and the International Code Council to create a program that connects interested high school talent with meaningful careers in the inspection industry. The program offers a pipeline of opportunity for these young students to achieve full-time employment as Building Inspectors without the need of a college degree. It also contributes to the tapestry of a larger succession planning strategy for the City by transferring vital knowledge to the next generation before it is lost.

Policy areas by number of cities

Glendale, CA utilizes 3 different innovation skills or roles

Project manager
Data scientist
Innovation roles by number of cities

As an independent department, Glendale’s Innovation, Performance and Audit team has 2 staff dedicated to innovation works.

Terms Glendale, CA most associates with innovation

Human-centered design

Glendale, CA's most common innovation activities

Taking risks and testing new ideas
e.g. prototyping new programs or models to address a persistent city challenge
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
Human-centered design
e.g. prioritizing the end-user at each stage of the design process
  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, Glendale, CA has dedicated funding to support innovation capacity.

Top sources of funding

Municipal budget
City council approved funds
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.

Activities being funded

Idea generation & brainstorming
Paying for services
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

Similar to 61% of participating cities in the 2020 survey, Glendale's funding for innovation capacity is also directed towards training staff and building capacity*.

*"Training staff and building capacity" is not an option in the 2018 survey, while "Launching or sustaining a project" is not an option in the 2020 survey.

How is innovation measured?

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

To improve data use, the city has also developed data partnerships with the private sector, private philanthropy, academia and think tanks to collect and analyse data.

Data availability by policy area


Sufficient data


Economic Development

Policing and law enforcement

Waste and sewage

Digital governance


Public works

Land use

Labour market and skills



Government finance

Environment and climate change

Built environment



Insufficient data

Social inclusion and equity

Social welfare/social services

No Response