Accela Civic Superhero Intel Brief

Digital Resources to Empower Your Community


The work of local government is the work of superheroes. It calls for an uncanny amount of endurance, agile thinking, quick responses, ingenuity under pressure and the willpower to push forward even against impossible odds. As a public servant, you may not wear a costume or cowl, but your role is similar to any caped crusader. Governments battle unseen threats in safety, housing, cybersecurity, environmental health, education and in so many other critical areas.

Government creates jobs, safeguards critical services, builds community and responds even in times of disaster to assist residents and help them recover. This kind of service makes you a “civic superhero,” and as such, we want to empower you with tools to confront tomorrow’s challenges.

After answering the Civic Superhero questionnaire, find the set of resources connected to your superhero type — Maverick Mastermind, Frontline Phenom or Data-driven Detective. Use these playbooks, research, and guides to improve your projects, initiatives, policy making or services. The resources are designed to help you in your specific role or area of focus, but feel free to explore the entire set of resources.

Civic Superhero Types

Maverick Mastermind 

You’re a leader, a change-maker, a driver of strategy and vision. You’re focused on the big picture, from better access to services and increased transparency, to budgets, staffing and policy making. Maverick Mastermind’s are all about thinking holistically so a jurisdiction can serve everyone equitably. Here are a few digital resources to help you develop smart city growth, find potential funding for department programs and meet citizen expectations.


Smart City Readiness Guide — The Smart Cities Council regularly updates its Smart City Readiness Guide to give local governments the latest advice on how to design their smart city services from the ground up. This guide doesn’t just look at one service, or a set of technologies, but guides leaders to look at their community’s needs and craft a comprehensive smart city plan.

100 Resilient Cities — Led by the Rockefeller Foundation, the 100 Resilient Cities initiative helps cities around the world to become more resilient to physical, social and economic challenges. Learn about the urban resilience strategies underway in U.S. cities like Atlanta, Boston and El Paso, Texas. — Sometimes funding is needed to take projects from a white page to the real world. is a one-stop shop for federal grants and offers more than 1,100 grant opportunities for cities and towns.

Research: Emerging Regulations — The Center for Digital Government and Accela have published a first-of-kind report detailing how new technologies and markets are affecting the regulatory environment at the state and local levels. Learn what services areas are expected to be impacted and how governments should prepare for these shifts.

Startup in Residence — Do you want city departments to think like a tech startup? That is the goal of the national Startup in Residence (STiR) program that embeds entrepreneurs directly into city departments to design city solutions. STiR is led by the City Innovate Foundation and facilitates private-public partnerships between cities and startups. The program also offers cities real-world case studies that highlight the impacts of startup solutions.

Data-driven Detective 

You are technophile, you deal in data, love to outthink traditional processes through digital invention and are familiar with the arcane minutia of government IT. These resources will guide you whether you’re trying to modernize a city’s outdated legacy system or drafting your city’s first open data policy. Here you’ll find support for designing opensource apps, creating performance-driven analytics, or managing IT systems.


What Works Cities  What Works Cities helps local governments improve communities by using data to tackle pressing challenges. Bloomberg Philanthropies has grown WWC with data-driven projects in more than 100 cities across the U.S. The site provides all local governments support for data analytics for program improvement, civic engagement, transparency and city goal setting. Most notably, the program offers certification for data-driven government, a tool that can be used to spur efficiency and benchmark good data practices.

U.S. Digital Service & 18F  — With a lineup of top Silicon Valley talent, U.S. Digital Service and 18F are the federal government’s Seal team six when it comes to IT modernization. Despite their federal focus, the groups also provide tools for state and local governments. Cities can benefit with the groups’ guides on agile development, tips for contracting strategies like modular procurement, blog posts IT best practices and their digital strategies playbook. 18F also provides a set of free tools to build modern, out of the box websites through its Web Design Standards toolkit and its collection of open source code on GitHub.

The Sunlight Foundation —The transparency advocates at the Sunlight Foundation are well versed in all things open data and are a great resource when drafting data policies. The organization has an Open Data Policy Hub that helps cities create an open data policy and they have guides for smart city technologies and tactical data usage.

Center for Data Innovation Looking for technical tips, data strategies, the latest methodologies? The Center for Data Innovation provides continuous research and insights on government data at the federal and local levels. Access the center’s reports, webinars and events here.

Data-Smart City Solutions — The Ash Center at Harvard Kennedy School and Bloomberg Philanthropies created the Data-Smart City Solutions initiative to provide cities with expertise and guidance on data usage. The initiative offers aid to cities using data for civic engagement, health and human services, infrastructure, public safety and more. In 2016 the organization founded the Civic Analytics Network, to provide chief data officers a peer-to-peer network for collaboration.

Frontline Phenom 

You are the face of government. The person residents see when they walk into an office, call for assistance or attend a public meeting. You serve residents behind a counter, in the field, drive a civic engagement campaign or lead a department’s service delivery team. Whatever your role, every day you are on the frontlines helping residents get access to important local services and we are here to help. These resources will guide you to develop your skills in government, to think of new ways to tackle old problems, and to be an “intrapreneur” at government’s front door.


Intrapreneurship in Government – Making it Work — Thinking like an entrepreneur inside government is great way to drive improvement and push change. In this report, Deloitte outlines “intrapreneurial” tactics and techniques that benefit government at all levels. Some of these include ways to bring ideas from outside the organization, to build effect teams, to find detour around outdated processes, and how to side step potential snags along the way.

Code for America Brigades Even if your office doesn’t have a team of technologists on its payroll, this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go without. Code for America, a national civic tech organization, has a network of 77 volunteer chapters called Brigades all across the country that have technologists willing to help their communities. These technologists build apps and tools specifically for cities, so residents have access to modern services.

Top Training Resources to Meet Government’s In-Demand Skills Like the private sector, governments are leaning more on technology to answer the needs of a growing populace, and with this shift comes a need to be tech savvy. In this GovLoop report find more than 100 training opportunities, degree programs, certifications courses and more in topics like cybersecurity, data science, IT systems, leadership and project management.

DigitalGov DigitalGov is a great resource searching for guidance implementing digital policies and finding modern service methods, practices and tools. Like its sister organizations at 18F and the U.S. Digital Service, DigitalGov is housed in the federal government’s General Service Administration and has a mission to train and educate government on tomorrow technologies.

The State of The Workforce Key Issues Government Managers Face: In this report, GovLoop identifies how managers can effectively hire and engage employees at all levels of an organization. Further, the report offers insight on how departments can ensure staff have the tools and skills necessary to take advantage of new technologies

Want more tools in your utility belt? Learn about Accela's full set of Civic Solutions here.