Data and Innovation in Los Angeles


with Mayor Eric Garcetti, City of Los Angeles


Dec 31, 2018

According to Bloomberg Philanthropies, Los Angeles has demonstrated a long-standing commitment to data-driven initiatives.

Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles mayor, discusses how leveraging data is improving urban life in the City of Angels.

Produced by: National Newsmakers Team

Anderson: More than 4 million Californians call the city of Los Angeles home -- a city now being recognized for its commitment to data -- data that makes the city cleaner, improves services and housing, and decreases pollution. Hello, and welcome to "Comcast Newsmakers." I´m Tetiana Anderson. And joining me to discuss innovation in the city is Eric Garcetti. He is the Mayor of Los Angeles. Mayor Garcetti is an honoree of Governing magazine´s 2018 Public Officials of the Year. Mr. Mayor, welcome to the program.

Garcetti: Thank you, Tetiana. Great to be here.

Anderson: So, since you took office, you have been using data to tackle everything from the environment to public safety to quality of life. Where have you seen the biggest impact? And where have residents felt the biggest changes?

Garcetti: Well, you know the old adage that, "Information is knowledge, and knowledge is power." And we feel that when information is shared with everybody, that everybody can hold government accountable, and have a more responsive and responsible government. I think it comes down to the basics. People want to know how clean their streets are. We started CleanStat that allows people to go online. We photograph every single block of every neighborhood, every street in that neighborhood and every part of the city, and people can hold us accountable. There´s a "3," which means it´s a dirty street; a "2," somewhat clean; or "1," pretty spotless. And pushing everybody to get to a 1. But it can also empower us from everything from tackling homelessness, to preparing for earthquakes, which is a problem in Los Angeles. And so often, government holds that information close, doesn´t want to share it, is worried about the embarrassing article in a paper. We found the opposite. When we share that with journalists, when we share that with folks who are the general public, share that with folks who are computer programmers, we get new apps, we get articles that point out things that we don´t know inside our own government that we need to fix, and it helps us accelerate the rate of change to improve people´s quality of life.

Anderson: So, the relationship between communities and police departments is something that has really captured the nation recently. And you´re actually using data to improve that relationship. Talk to me about that.

Garcetti: Well, we´re doing it in a number of ways. First of all, just having body cameras, which is something that we now share that data, essentially, of what happens in controversial shootings, with the public so they can see, make up their own minds. And remember, the Los Angeles Police Department had some very difficult years before there were cellphones and before things would go viral. We had video tape of what happened with Rodney King, and that caused us to have riots, and people died and property was lost. So we went through a very different way that looking at the policing, we need to now look at where the need is, put police where crime is, and also, we poll the community. We can´t just say, citywide, the police are popular. We have to go in an African-American community, Latino community, and see, okay, maybe more than half the people do like the LAPD, but if it´s 20 points different, what can we do to improve those relationships and to build even more meaningful and lasting relationships? We count how many police officers come from which different communities -- the zip codes, the ethnic backgrounds, the languages that they speak, because we have a very diverse population. And to police well, you really need to reflect the city, reflect its aspirations, and continue to connect the people.

Anderson: Diversity, integration. All of these things that we just talked about are things that are impacting your community now. But I want to jump ahead, specifically to 2028. You´ve got the Olympics coming to Los Angeles. You´ve undertaken what people are calling the most ambitious transportation project in the nation. What are you doing?

Garcetti: Well, we´re number one in a lot of great ways, in L.A. We´re the number-one entertainment capital, of course, trade capital, manufacturing capital, which people don´t know, aerospace capital. We´re also the number-one traffic capital. And that´s a crown that I want to lose. We´re synonymous with hours, every single month, every single week, in traffic.

Anderson: The world´s biggest parking lot.

Garcetti: Exactly. And so we said, "We have to look at new technology, better city planning, but also, public transportation that gets you from point ´A´ to point ´B.´" So we passed the largest initiative in U.S. history. It was called Measure M. $120 billion, with a "B," over the next 40 years. Not only will it create about 787,000 jobs -- middle-class jobs -- for folks building those lines and running them, but also it´ll allow people to finally get from work to the place that they live and where they want to play. 15 new rapid-transit lines. They won´t all be done by the time the Olympics and Paralympics come in 2028, but we accelerated 28 of those projects, called it Twenty-eight by ´28. And the federal government, the state government, all of our cities in the L.A. County region, are really excited to have that kind of fixed point on the horizon that when the world comes to our house, kind of like meeting your future in-laws for the first time, you want to make sure everything is squared away. And so L.A. is really going to be in this position to not only have those lines done, the roads and the highways improved, but also to show some of the technology innovation that´s happening in transportation, from vertical takeoff and landing, drones that can carry people, to what Elon Musk is doing right now underneath the city to potentially have a new Boring Company... move people underground, to even other companies that are pitching things like monorail, which seems like a thing of the past but now really is on the verge of working.

Anderson: So, a lot of things you´re doing are sort of putting you in the national spotlight. Is that part of a larger plan to make yourself visible for 2020? Are you gonna run for president?

Garcetti: I still don´t know. I´ll have to make a decision soon. I do think that there´s a role for mayors on the national stage. And I´ve encouraged a number of mayors to think about running for president, even as I do. It´s a great training ground, you know? You´re chief executive. You learn about international trade through a port that you run. You know about tourism through the airports that we control...

Anderson: Certainly.

Garcetti: policy through the utilities that we have. And I think people are sick of the kind of Washington politicians that don´t get things done. They make up problems, don´t solve them. But at the local level, you can´t B.S. whether you paved a pothole or not. You have to get it done. So it´s something I´m seriously considering.

Anderson: Well, we will be watching. And you´re certainly getting things done. L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, thank you.

Garcetti: A great pleasure, Tetiana. Thanks.

Anderson: And thank you for joining us, as well. For more great conversations with leaders in your own community and across the nation, be sure to visit I´m Tetiana Anderson.

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