Innovation is a concept touted by cities and startups alike. While it promises change and advancement, it often leaves many behind. Some of the most innovative cities are also the most exclusive, leaving large portions of the population out while a few excel.

“For about 30% of the city, there’s no ladder for opportunity,” Mayor Peduto said referring to Pittsburgh in a press conference yesterday at the Carnegie Library in East Liberty.

There he announced the launch of “Pittsburgh Roadmap for Inclusive Innovation” in partnership with the Department of Innovation & Performance and the Urban Redevelopment Authority. The plan drives innovation for all residents of Pittsburgh.

Mayor Peduto speaking at the event, courtesy of the CUE.
Mayor Peduto speaking at the event, courtesy of the CUE.

“To be truly successful, Pittsburgh’s technology boom has to be accessible for all. This plan will enable us to be a model for cities around the country in providing equitable services and opportunities for residents and businesses in every neighborhood citywide,” Peduto said.

The Roadmap for Inclusive Innovation was developed by the Department of Innovation and Performance over a yearlong period of focus groups, research and analysis.

“This is a living document that will continue to evolve over time,” said Chief Innovation and Performance Officer Debra Lam. “Our goal is to continue to incorporate new programs and projects using the Roadmap as a foundation.”

The Roadmap outlines three primary goals for the city: bridging the digital divide to increase citizen engagement; improving the city’s digital abilities; and strengthening clean tech and local business sectors. From these primary goals, the city has identified over 100 actions and projects to improve the community.

Some of the projects have already started, and several partners presented their progress so far at the event, including Connecting Urban Entrepreneurs, Beacon, Metro 21 and Steel City Codefest. Additional partner projects are underway, and can be found on the Roadmap.

The Roadmap for Inclusive Innovation is available online. The document breaks down the goals into six categories: Address the Digital Divide, Empower City-to-City Engagement, Provide Open Data to Pittsburgh, Improve Internal Operations and Capacity of the City, Advance Clean Technology and Promote the Local Business Environment.

The interactive document provides extensive background on the project, progress reports and outlines of future goals for the Roadmap.

The event was packed with city officials, leaders in the tech industry, higher education leaders and local nonprofits, showing the breadth of community involvement the plan entails.

“Innovation is a process, not an end state,” concluded Lam. “How can we move forward on innovation collectively?”

Emma Diehl is a writer, blogger, and social media marketer working in tech and startups in Pittsburgh. She loves local craft beer and a well-crafted pun.