This guidebook is intended to give local leaders a practical, action-oriented framework for breakthrough innovation.

Across the country and the world, local governments are striving to break through obsolete ways of working to address the challenges of the 21st century, especially on issues facing low-income residents. Here in the United States, economic opportunity in cities remains elusive for many – a fact made all the more significant as the nation heads towards a future in which a majority of its residents are people of color. Around the world, cities are growing at astonishing rates, bringing with that growth new challenges in terms of environmental sustainability, economic opportunity and quality of life. In a time of such rapid change, local government leaders are eager to adapt how they do business in order to produce materially different results. This guide is intended to help them do just that.

City Accelerator Guide Tablet Mockup

The Guide is accessible in digital and print format.

The guide offers practical guidance to local government officials on how to build a durable culture and practice of innovation. It lays out nine “Imperatives” towards this end, with concrete action steps for each to help cities get started, along with illustrative case studies.

The guide is authored by Nigel Jacob, Urban Technologist-in-Residence at Living Cities and the co-founder and co-chair of the Office of New Urban Mechanics, Boston’s nationally recognized innovation team. It draws from Jacob’s experience in Boston, leading practices in cities around the United States and the world, and from the private sector.

Staff from the city of Nashville, TN.

Staff receive recognition from The Nashville Entrepreneurship Center. Image credit: City of Nashville, TN.

The guide was developed as part of the City Accelerator, a $3 million program of Living Cities with the Citi Foundation to speed the spread of innovation with the potential to benefit low-income people in local governments.

A meeting of the Smart Chicago Collaborative

Participants at the Smart Chicago Collaborative listen to a presentation on Civic Innovation.

To learn more about the City Accelerator, visit