September 4, 2012

HUD’s Innovation of the Day

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What new trends are emerging from cities to increase their competitiveness? How are municipalities reorienting to serve the public in an era of technology? What new citizen-based initiatives will increase sustainability in a community? How does a local non-profit creatively partner with a HUD field office to decrease homelessness? HUD’s new portal, Innovation of the Day (IOD), was designed to explore how people from around the world are creatively answering such questions.

IOD was recently launched as HUD’s online hub for sourcing innovations in housing, community development, the built environment, and urban planning. The portal will help HUD crowd-source and highlight emerging practices that can be leveraged by HUD as well as other agencies, municipalities, philanthropies, non-profits, and citizens. IOD will also help us identify promising solutions and trends from the field so that we can create federal policies reflective of the inventiveness coming from within communities.

IOD was conceived of by HUD’s Office for International and Philanthropic Innovation (IPI) within Policy Development and Research. IPI serves as the Department’s scout for the innovation that is driving the field and improving communities. IPI works with governments, multi-lateral agencies, non-profits, and foundations to bolster partnerships, and ultimately stimulate more resources for housing and urban development. Since its inception in 2010, IPI has been focused on developing systems to accelerate collaboration and elevate effective, new solutions. IOD is the Office’s latest tool—with the goal that it becomes a pipeline of innovation for the Department.

With this vision of tapping the ingenuity emerging from the field, IPI worked closely with the Office of the Chief Information Officer and the Office of Public Affairs to design IOD so that not only could HUD evaluate and utilize the information, but any visitor to the site could use the data. The portal was launched with a submission form that requires input of some basic information and classifications. For example, submitters are asked about their location, how the innovation they wish to share is related to a HUD strategic goal, and the primary theme or topic of their innovation. Submitters are encouraged to add an image and website links. Once submitted, HUD staff reviews the submission against basic criteria created with the Office of the General Counsel, and—if approved—promotes the submission to an active innovation in the database. The database can then be searched by topic, geography, title, or even keyword. Further, some of the most compelling submissions will be promoted to the Featured Innovation—or as the Innovation of the Day on a rotating slideshow.  IPI and OCIO also have plans to develop a dashboard of Innovations to provide a snapshot of trends.

And while IPI, OCIO, and OPA are proud of creating such an exciting virtual home for IOD, we know that technology-alone will never provide a comprehensive platform for an innovation policy exchange. Therefore, in conjunction with the Innovation of the Day online portal, HUD—along with several partners—will sponsor an Innovation Summit in December 2012. The Summit will bring together some of the local innovators discovered from IOD with researchers, municipal leaders, practitioners, and policy-makers to evaluate ways to better utilize emerging practices. To ensure that the Summit has broad geographic and topic representation, IPI and OPA will also develop a regional competition, challenging field and regional staff to nominate the innovations they believe are having a significant impact within their communities.

Recently, Secretary Donovan asked that staff in each program and regional office nominate a staff member to facilitate this innovation agenda. It is a great opportunity to bring HUD goal #5 to life. With a focus on supporting the initiatives stimulating positive change in local communities, Innovation of the Day and the Innovation Summit exemplify how HUD is renewing itself and transforming the way the Department does business.


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