Monday, May 9, 2016

O'Malley's next gig

Martin O'Malley who who wanted to be the start-up candidate among the presidential hopefuls floundered early as it is common among start-ups. Failure is a badge of honor among the techies following the mantra that you have to risk failure to grow. 
O'Malley declares his candidacy for President in
Baltimore's Federal Hill Park on May 30, 2015
(Photo: K Philipsen)

Almost a year after announcing his presidential run, O'Malley's new start-up launch is with the MetroLab Network, an initiative that originated with the White House in late 2015 and is fledging under the tutelage of Carnegie Mellon. MetroLab Network is a partnership between cities and universities based on the notion of smart cities and universities as anchor institutions. 

The Network, launched as part of the White House’s Smart Cities Initiative in September 2015 and addresses projects in Economic development & human capital, governance & civic engagement, health & public safety, transportation & infrastructure, water, energy & sustainability.

O'Malley as a former mayor and inventor of CitiStat, the idea of data based governance with strong reliance on performance metrics, is a good choice for the task of supporting MetroLab by convening an Advisory Committee of “leaders in government, industry, academia, and philanthropy.” (Press release).

The gig may not exactly measure up to the same status as being the President of the United States, but it positions O'Malley where currently real progress is made: the metropolises of the world. So far 33 US cities, 44 universities (including Johns Hopkins, UB and the City of Baltimore, both joined this month) and 3 counties are members of the rapidly growing network. 

In  a statement O'Malley says: 
“Cities have always been one of my passions, and I am excited for the opportunity to work with cities and universities across the country. Advances in technology, data science, and computing provide new opportunities to deal with our cities’ greatest challenges, aging infrastructure, the delivery of effective public services, the need to help our most vulnerable neighbors, and the imperative to address climate change. By pairing cities with universities, MetroLab Network creates a collaborative platform that is a critical to deploying solutions.”
“Governor O’Malley’s insights and experience will be of enormous benefit to the cities and universities in MetroLab Network,” said Ronald Daniels, President of Johns Hopkins University. In 2015, Governor O’Malley was a visiting professor at Johns Hopkins University’s Carey Business School, where he focused on government, business, and urban issues.

O'Malley will get his first opportunity to shine next Wednesday in San Diego when he will provide the keynote address opening the two day spring workshop of the MetroLab Network. 
MetroLab Network is supported by a $1 million grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. 

The exchange between cities isn't a novel idea. It occurred for years as part of the Mayor's Institute on City Design, The US Conference of Mayors and international collaboration in sustainability organizations such as this. The new element of MetroLab is the pairing with universities. Following the advice of Antoine van Agtmael on how cities can become innovation centers and globally competitive, laid out in his new book From Rustbelts to Brainbelts, private innovation industry should be included as well. 


The University of Baltimore President Kurt Schmoke had this to say about the partnership with MetroLab:
"As Baltimore continues to grow, change and improve to become a truly great 21st century American city, our colleges and universities must reflect and, indeed, drive that evolution, UB's joining of the MetroLab Network is powerful evidence that this is happening, and we're proud to join with the city in leading the way."

Klaus Philipsen, FAIA 

Press release