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City of Philadelphia's Intelligent City Roadmap

City of Philadelphia's Intelligent City Roadmap
Andrew Buss
Deputy CIO
City of Philadelphia
City of Philadelphia's Intelligent City Roadmap

Philadelphia, historically known as the birthplace of American democracy, is now embarking on a new journey — one that integrates technology, innovation, and public service. We sat down with Andrew Buss, Deputy CIO, and Tara Woody, Innovation Manager, to discuss how the city is navigating its way to becoming an Intelligent City.

Origins: Why Philadelphia Embraced Intelligent City Initiatives

Back in 2012-2013, Philadelphia was grappling with a sense of stagnation in its processes. City services and programs weren't evolving at the pace residents deserved. "We were not really providing better services or programs to our residents...And we thought about that from the lens of internal capacity." Andrew realized there was a gap in teaching the process of innovation, and sought to fill it. "I've never took innovation as a course myself. I wish I had." This led the city to rethink its approach, realizing the need for an intelligent city roadmap.

"We thought about[...] the fact that we do not teach innovation anywhere."

Guiding Lights: Motivations, Values, and Principles

With the desire to infuse innovation within the very DNA of city operations, Philadelphia decided on a transformative approach. They aimed to train their employees in the principles of design thinking and systems thinking. "We took the approach that, well, if we can train city employees in some of the principles of innovation—around design thinking systems, things like that—we should be able to tip the needle in our favor in terms of providing better services to people, because that's really what we're trying to do at the end of the day"

The city's initiative wasn't just about technological advancement but stemmed from an understanding of the changing dynamics of the workforce. As Tara Woody elaborated, "The government workforce is rapidly changing with a growing desire for creativity and new problem-solving methods." This shift in mindset and the aspiration for creativity and innovation have been the driving forces behind Philadelphia's journey.

"As a team, it's important for us to be able to teach people the skills that they're looking to learn and to bring that creativity and problem solving into the space"

Challenges and Triumphs: The Journey of Implementation

Transitioning to an intelligent city model wasn't without its challenges. Introducing new technology often meant changing entrenched work patterns, and not everyone was on board. Tara Woody shared her insights: "We never go in and say: you need to do this and tell people how to change the way they're working." 

Tara's involvement in the redevelopment of the traffic safety education program exemplified the city's commitment to not just introducing new technology but ensuring it brought tangible benefits to its residents. 

"The work has to be[...] really centered toward providing people with meaningful experiences and technology"

Moreover, balancing the innovation side of work with the operational support for city departments posed its own set of challenges. As Andrew pointed out, "A lot of city technology offices are now realizing that you have to do both the public technology and innovation side of the work as well as the basic operational support for city departments."


Philadelphia's journey towards becoming an Intelligent City is a testament to its commitment to its residents. By focusing on public-facing technology and a strong innovation portfolio, the city is setting new standards in government operations. "It is essentially public-facing technology that we are responsible for, and that's sort of a new thing in government," remarked Andrew. 

With leaders like Andrew Buss and Tara Woody at the helm, Philadelphia's future as an Intelligent City looks promising. The city's ongoing journey reflects a blend of innovation, public engagement, and an unwavering commitment to efficient service delivery.

We're excited to welcome Andrew Buss to our upcoming Intelligent Cities Summit this June in Detroit!