If, as predicted, the tough fiscal times for state and local governments don't end anytime soon, the pressure to embrace innovation will increase. A New Orleans plan that uses data analytics to identify structures that are most vulnerable to fires and distribute smoke alarms to their residents is an example of how local leaders can find ways to do more with less.
New Orleans, like other cities that have responded to the ongoing fiscal challenge by establishing units focused on innovation, developed an Office of Performance and Accountability (OPA). In March the city took the next step, unveiling NOLAlytics, a cross-departmental unit focused on using data to improve government performance. Its first program is Targeted Smoke Alarm Outreach, a joint effort between OPA and the New Orleans Fire Department (NOFD).