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Truly resilient cities are capable of preparing for and managing the shocks and stresses that could threaten the quality of life for their residents. An earthquake would be a shock; the grinding pain of economic inequality may be a stress. Both can severely affect local communities.

At Citymart, we have been working with dozens of global cities to prepare for - or tackle - their resilience challenges through public procurement. Cities approached us initially driven by a symptom that needed remedy, like a high number of traffic fatalities (Philadelphia) or an alarming rate of childhood obesity (Eindhoven).

With 100 Resilient Cities entering the scene in 2014, we saw a more structured approach to tackling urban resilience issues through inventories, strategies and implementation plans. Melbourne is a wonderful example of a city setting out to solve the interconnected issues of decreasing social cohesion and urban mobility.

Our understanding of the role of public procurement grew along the way, with each city helping us better interpret the power of public procurement to become a strategic tool for change and innovation. At its best, a public procurement transaction delivers not just a contract, but the most effective solution to a need in our community.

We were fortunate to learn with the best.

New Orleans used Citymart to successfully reach disadvantaged youth for digital skills development through a procurement that invited new ideas that utilized tried and tested approaches. Similarly, the City of Long Beach sourced a new entrepreneurship and innovation hub to support its small businesses not by creating new budgets, but by allowing new partnerships to leverage under-used city assets.

Public procurement - and this is our first lesson - is a learning experience if done well. Resilient cities start by accepting what they do not know and focus their efforts on asking the right questions. It requires rigor and humility to relentlessly focus on outcomes over preconceived solutions.

Miami-Dade County’s resilience team used Citymart to procure a green storm-water management infrastructure with an open challenge to the market, instead of providing design specs to contractors. Ninety percent of the solutions presented were previously unknown to the team, but successfully proven elsewhere.

Which brings us to our second lesson. Resilient cities share and accept that adapting ‘what works’ elsewhere is the most reliable path to success. Public procurement can be intentional about inviting solutions from the outside, bringing new knowledge and recipes proven elsewhere to our cities.

For example, San Francisco looked to implement its urban lighting upgrade using open standards to provide a resilient wireless control system for various urban services. It was a solution invented in Lugano, Switzerland that proved to be the most promising among the 59 bids, leading to an urban pilot within just four months that demonstrated the viability of both the technology and the start-up team.

And here we have our third and last lesson. Resilient cities are more agile in procurement because they level the playing field for urban innovators. Citymart provides cities unique insights into all available solutions in the market throughout the procurement process - covering big and small vendors, social organizations or open source solutions. They manage uncertainty and risk by using proven workflows and being thoughtful about using requests for information, pilots or accelerators. In this way, they discovered new solutions and partnerships, with often deeply committed teams.

We are excited about the confluence of efforts to make our cities more resilience and to protect the immediate wellbeing of billions of people. Our investment in technology has made our support to cities exponentially more accessible, allowing them to improve public procurements in real-time by leveraging market intelligence and tools we have distilled with over 100 global cities.