Speaker Snapshot: Brian Platt, Director, Office Of Innovation For The City Of Jersey City

Open innovation in city governance


Brian Platt is pursuing Masters in Public Administration at Columbia University and currently serves as a senior aide in the Mayor's Office where he has helped to build the city's open data portal and implemented data collection and data-driven decision-making processes for all city departments.

What are the main advantages of open innovation?

Problem-solving is the most efficient and effective in collaborative settings, which means an open and transparent process that engages a variety of stakeholders.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges that companies face in terms of open innovation implementation?

The biggest challenge with innovation, in general, is a risk. Skepticism forms if there is a high risk of failure, but any bold new innovative initiative comes with some degree of risk that cannot be avoided. Leaders must be willing to accept the fact that not everything will always work out as initially planned, but more importantly, that failure only occurs if you give up.

How does open innovation affect R&D labs and departments?

Cities and towns don’t have 'R&D', although we are always looking for new ways to improve the way we do business. For us, we do spend time researching and planning, but our pilots and tests occur 'in the field', meaning with groups of actual residents and other city stakeholders.

How big are the competitive risks of sharing too much with external organizations/individuals?

Cities are obligated to be fully transparent with all of our activities and operations. However, that doesn’t always mean government entities are forthcoming. In Jersey City, we are working to be as proactive as possible with our data and information, by publishing any and all information we think would be helpful, interesting, or requested by members of the public. We also want to share our best practices and hope others will do the same since we aren’t really competing with anyone, and in fact, are trying to help everyone everywhere.

What can the audience expect from your upcoming presentation at the Open Innovation Summit?

Expect to laugh, cry, feel anger and frustration, and possibly even find true love, but no matter what, your life will never be the same. 

You can hear from Brian and other industry leaders at the Open Innovation Summit, taking place in Boston this September 28&29th.


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