The City of Long Beach, Calif., is launching a new Smart City Initiative – called the Long Beach Collaboratory (LB Co-Lab) – with a goal to “engage residents with civic technology design and equip them with technology skills to thrive in our ‘smart’ economy.”

To do so, the LB Co-Lab will engage local Long Beach stakeholders in a collaborative community engagement process to scope and implement a pilot technology project. The city said in a press release that the technology implemented through this program will ensure the city invests in tech enhancements based on community-identified needs, while also teaching community members about technology design and development.

“The LB Co-Lab is an innovative program that will work with residents to foster technology skills and help us invest in the technology and services that will be most useful to our community,” said Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia.

Long Beach City said it believes the community engagement generated by the new project will lead to the implementation of an accessible technology infrastructure in four Long Beach neighborhoods of focus: Hamilton, Ramona Park, Willmore and the Lower Westside. The city analyzed data on internet access, unemployment, age, and COVID-19 cases to identify these four neighborhoods of focus.

In order to participate in the program, individuals must live, work, study, or have some affiliation with one of these neighborhoods. The city also believes the community engagement will kickstart additional economic investment funds and cultural development towards technology skills for the city.

For the new project, the city will engage residents and stakeholders from the targeted neighborhoods to join a community working group that will scope out and implement a pilot infrastructure or technology project as part of the LB Co-Lab. Participants will receive training in technology development, earn a professional certificate, receive a $1,000 stipend, and make recommendations for scaling the project beyond the initial pilot phase. Further, the community working groups will deploy, prototype and test the proposed solution. The city also said the community working groups will play an active role in evaluating submissions and selecting a winner for the pilot technology project.

The program is receiving $70,000 in funding from the Long Beach Recovery Act, a plan to fund economic and public health initiatives for Long Beach residents, workers and businesses critically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The LB Co-Lab also received a $150,000 grant from The Knight Foundation Donor Advised Fund held at the Long Beach Community Foundation. The city has also partnered with the Pacific Gateway Workforce Innovation Network to provide participants with access to technology training, certificates, and career development.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs