The city of Houston has been selected as one of five winners of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge, a competition designed to spur innovation in America’s cities.
Houston won a runner-up prize of $1 million with its proposal “One Bin for All” to allow residents to mix trash, recyclables and lawn waste in a single bin ready for automatic sorting.
“I am thrilled that Houston has been selected as a Mayors Challenge winner,” Mayor Annise Parker said in a news release. “One Bin for All is a first-of-its kind innovation that will revolutionize the way we handle trash, achieving high-volume recycling and waste diversion, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and lower operating costs.”
Providence, R.I., won the $5 million prize in the contest created by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg with a high-tech plan to overcome a language skills problem known as the word gap that puts low-income children at a profound disadvantage in the classroom.
Houston and Providence were among 305 cities that pitched an idea to the Bloomberg challenge. In addition to Houston, the cities of Philadelphia, Chicago and Santa Monica, Calif., were also selected for $1 million runner-up prizes.
The other pitches submitted to Bloomberg Philanthropies included Milwaukee’s plan to promote urban agriculture in vacant lots and Phoenix’s proposal to create “smart energy districts.” Applications came from cities in 46 states, according to James Anderson, who oversees government innovation programs at Bloomberg Philanthropies.
Santa Monica hopes to become the first American city to create a citizen well-being index, using economic vitality, social relationships, health, education and environmental factors to inform city policy decisions.
Philadelphia plans to use its $1 million prize to reform city procurement policies to encourage entrepreneurs and “social innovators” to submit bids and solutions to city challenges.
Chicago plans to harness computers to create a data-driven “predictive analytics platform” to track trends and allow city leaders to identify problems before they are obvious.