South Bend

United States


Pete Buttigieg


102,245 (2017)

Lead Innovation Officers

Denise Linn Riedl (current), Santiago Garces (at time of 2018 survey)

Innovation is helping to:
  • Improve service delivery

  • Improve resident outcomes

  • Improve internal government operations

Critical success factors:
  • Dedicated funding

  • Focus on measurement

  • Dedicated innovation team

  • Leadership from Mayor

  • Culture of innovation in city

  • Support from outside city administration

Spotlight on innovation in South Bend

South Bend has developed a comprehensive approach to problem solving through its SBStat program. Each quarter a department chooses one high priority topic to workshop with the innovation team. The innovation team reviews both soft and hard data to deeply understand the problem and build recommendations. The innovation team also brings the central administration into the process such as the legal, human resources, and IT departments as these departments often play a role in supporting the program.

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

Policy areas that South Bend is focused on

Economic Development
Digital governance
Policy areas by number of cities

South Bend utilizes 7 different innovation skills or roles

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

South Bend has a dedicated office for innovation with 17 staff. Until 3 years ago, innovation capacity was based in the Mayor’s office and consisted of a much smaller team.

Terms South Bend most associates with innovation

Big picture re-thinking
Human-centered design

South Bend's most common innovation activities

Engaging residents in new ways
Developing new solutions based on digital technologies
e.g. use of drones or smart sensors
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
Rethinking approaches to financing and partnerships
e.g. new public-private-partnerships; collaboration with neighboring jurisdictions
  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, South Bend 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

South bend also invests in digital services and physical infrastructure, and pays for services from a third party.

How is innovation measured?

South Bend has developed partnerships to promote its innovation capacity internally within the city’s administration, other levels of government, public agencies, private firms, not-for-profit organizations, and city residents/resident associations.

The city has also fostered partnerships with academia/think tanks, philanthropy, and other cities.

Data availability by policy area


Sufficient data


Economic Development

Policing and law enforcement

Waste and sewage

Digital governance

Insufficient data


Labour market and skills


Social inclusion and equity

No Response

Housing and built environment


Environment and climate change


Public works