United States


Ben Walsh


143,378 (2016)

Lead Innovation Officer

Adria Finch

Innovation is helping to:
  • Improve internal government operations

  • Improve service delivery

  • Simplify administrative procedures for firms and residents

Critical success factors:
  • Dedicated funding

  • Focus on measurement

  • Dedicated innovation team

Spotlight on innovation in Syracuse

Syracuse has various innovation practices including:

  • Defined priority area – Identifying one priority area and follow a four-step innovation delivery approach to develop a portfolio of initiatives that address the identified challenge.
  • Performance Office – Leading city departments to innovate around four of the Mayor’s main objectives in order to produce measurable results that will be reviewed each month.
  • Special projects – Tackling a priority innovation projects as they arise.
  • Leveraging employees – Teaching and guiding staff to innovate on their own through trainings, competitions, and fun activities
  • Leveraging external resources – Making external partnerships (e.g. cooperation with the University of Chicago to operate the Data Science for Social Good 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, Syracuse has an explicit innovation strategy. Similar to more than half of cities surveyed, Syracuse approaches innovation capacity both from a holistic/macro level, as well as in specific policy areas.

Policy areas that Syracuse is focused on

Policy areas by number of cities

Syracuse utilizes 6 different innovation skills or roles

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

Situated as an independent department, Syracuse’s dedicated team for innovation consists of 8 staff.

Terms Syracuse most associates with innovation

Big picture re-thinking
Data analytics

Syracuse'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
Promoting data-driven analytics / public data management
e.g. data storage/analytics; open data; big data
  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, Syracuse 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.

Activities being funded

Launching or sustaining a project
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

The city also support other activities including investment in digital systems and physical infrastructure.

How is innovation measured?

Syracuse has developed partnerships to promote its innovation capacity with other public agencies, private firms, NGOs, philanthropy, think tanks, and city residents/resident associations.

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

Data availability by policy area


Sufficient data


Economic Development

Housing and built environment

Policing and law enforcement



Social inclusion and equity

Insufficient data

Waste and sewage

Labour market and skills

No Response


Environment and climate change


Public works


Digital governance