With nine million dollars total in prizes up for grabs, The Mayor’s Challenge simply asks for innovations in city life, a subject that’s been a growing concern for countless architects, planners, and governments worldwide. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the competition last week calling for individual designers and teams to address urban challenges from sustainability to citizen empowerment. “Every day, mayors around America are tackling increasingly complex problems with fewer and fewer resources,” Bloomberg said in a statement. “Our cities are uniquely positioned to inspire and foster the innovation, creativity, and solutions needed to improve people’s lives and move America forward.”
Mayors of cities with a population above 30,000 people—about 1,300 across the country according to the 2010 census—are invited to participate as team leaders. Entries will be theoretical, but will be judged for their vision, ease of implementation, potential for impact, and replicability in other cities. Teams are encouraged to present new and radical ideas relevant to multiple cities addressing social or economic problems, improving customer service, improving accountability, or that help governments run more efficiently.
But what ideas are big enough to change cities across the country? The challenge points to PlaNYC, an initiative launched by the Bloomberg administration in 2007, calling in part for transforming 4,000 acres of New York City land into public space to provide every New Yorker with a park within a ten-minutes walk from their homes; Chicago’s 311 hub, implemented in 1999, also helped improve city life by combining multiple city services and access points in one easy-to-reach location, providing efficient customer service and encouraging public engagement.
From the contesting cities, twenty finalists will be chosen to attend an Ideas Camp and among them five will be named national winners, with one $5 million grand prize and four $1 million prizes to help implement the ideas. All qualified entrants are required to RSVP by July 16th, 2012 and apply by September 14th,2012.