Portland, ME

United States


Kate Snyder


66,882 (2017)

Lead Innovation Officer

Lena Geraghty

Innovation is helping to:
  • Improve internal government operations

  • Improve service delivery

  • Improve resident outcomes

Critical success factors:
  • Focus on measurement

  • Dedicated innovation team

  • Support from outside city administration

  • Culture of innovation in city

  • Engagement with partners

  • Leadership from Mayor

Spotlight on innovation in Portland, ME

Portland‘s first innovation project involved the installation of new LED street lights across the city. The transition to LED lighting has reduced Portland’s electrical use by 2.7 million kWh per year, while yielding more than $1 million in savings. Through higher quality LED lighting, the switch also creates safer streets while reducing light pollution.

Vision and approach to innovation capacity

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

Policy areas that Portland, ME is focused on

Environment and climate change

Transport/mobility: Portland has installed adaptive traffic signals that react to real-time traffic on the road, instead of traffic schedules, in 22 key intersections to reduce travel times and vehicle emissions.

Environment/climate change: The city is also developing a joint climate action and adaptation plan with a neighboring city to reach their citywide goal of reducing community wide greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050 and transitioning to 100% clean energy for municipal operations by 2040.

Policy areas by number of cities

Innovation skills or roles

Situated in the City Manager's office, Portland’s innovation work is led by one dedicated staff member who also serves as a Director of Innovation and Performance Management.

Innovation roles by number of cities

Terms Portland, ME most associates with innovation

Data analytics
Technological innovation

Portland, ME's most common innovation activities

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 19% of cities surveyed, Portland, ME does not have dedicated funding to support innovation capacity.

Top sources of funding

Portland, ME has no reported sources of funding.

Activities being funded

Portland, ME does not fund any specific activities.

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

*"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?

Portland has developed partnerships to promote innovation capacity with other levels of government and public agencies.

To improve data use, the city has also developed data partnerships with the private sector to collect and analyze data.

Data availability by policy area


Sufficient data


Economic Development


Policing and law enforcement

Government finance

Waste and sewage

Social inclusion and equity

Environment and climate change


Public works

Labour market and skills

Built environment

Land use

Insufficient data


Digital governance


Social welfare/social services

No Response