City Performance & Innovation staff presents at Smart City Expo World Conference

December 1, 2022

The ongoing work of the Office of Performance & Innovation (OPI) continues to capture the attention of global changemakers from around the world as Gina Obiri, City program manager, shared her innovation expertise with the Smart City Expo World Conference in Barcelona, Spain. Obiri spoke in the session titled "Smart Solutions for Safer Public Spaces" during the conference.

“It felt amazing to represent OPI and the City on a global stage! It is an honor to know that our work is reaching people in other countries and that they see the immense value in how our team empowers community members to help us develop solutions,” Obiri said about being a sought-out speaker. “Every member of OPI works exceptionally hard to ensure community members who have been marginalized can feel just as safe and secure in Minneapolis as those who are not; so much of ourselves goes into doing that, so it’s affirming to be recognized in such a cool way.”

Obiri joined five other panelists from around the world. The other panelists included Miguel Sangalang, Executive Director & General Manager at the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Street Lighting; Ulpiano Suarez, Mayor of the City of Mendoza, Argentina; Marijn Fraanje, Director of Digital Innovation & Smart Cities at the City of The Hague; and Angel Albendin Ariza, Police Superintendent at the Valencia Local Police Department. Siphelele Ngobese, Researcher in the Inclusive Cities Programme at the South African Cities Network, served as moderator.

“My contributions focused on the importance of people-centeredness even as we shift to smart tech,” Obiri explained. “To illustrate this, I gave a brief background of how OPI is working to broaden our public safety system through the development of the BCR and other unarmed alternatives, then discussed four components that have been instrumental in institutionalizing people-centric approaches, (1) Decentering Police, (2) Using an Inclusive Design process, (3) Adequate Resource Allocation, (4) Disaggregated Data.”

The Smart City Expo World Conference discovered Obiri’s innovative work in a Bloomberg Cities Network article recognizing Obiri’s leadership as one of 13 women in the world driving city innovations.

The Office of Performance & Innovation surveyed over 8,000 people and received more than 23,000 comments on how to reimagine public safety. That feedback fueled many pilot programs, including routing non-emergency calls from 911 to 311 and developing the Behavioral Crisis Response team, the City’s newest first responder unit of unarmed mental health professionals handling mental health emergencies.

Obiri said, “This opportunity opened my mind to the work that’s happening across the globe and how the work of OPI fits into that ecosystem. Often, we only look to similarly sized cities in the US but there is such so much to be gained through the international exchange of experiences and information. What OPI is doing – and more importantly, the spirit that we do it with – is inspiring and other cities are taking notice. I returned with a renewed energy to do good work in a place that can be extremely draining.” 

Smart City Expo World Congress began in 2011. It is the leading international event for the smart city sector, a key meeting point for experts and leaders of the world's most innovative cities, companies, research centers and international organizations. More than 24,000 professionals were expected from more than 700 cities, and over 400 international speakers were expected to share their vision on how to build a more sustainable and livable urban future.

Learn more about the portfolio of unarmed public safety pilots developed by Minneapolis Performance & Innovation.