Benchmarking Social Goods

Public goods providers are often monopolies. Thus, they don’t face direct competition. Citizens can’t choose from multiple local vendors for driver’s licenses or building permits. But, citizens can compare the service they receive with their social goods with the service that they get from private sector providers.

paying for infrastructure

The Power of Pricing: Paying for Public Infrastructure

In their recent report card, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave US infrastructure a grade of D+.  ASCE also said bad infrastructure costs U.S. households $9 per day in higher prices, poor service, repairs, and wasted time. For just $3 per day, they say we could fix the problem. Those numbers sound small,...Continue reading

redesigning failed shoppin malls

City Design: Redesigning Failed Shopping Malls

According to Credit Suisse, up to one-quarter of U.S. malls will close by 2022. During the past 60 years, malls served as a major public commons in the U.S. The design and stewardship of commons is a crucial component of public-sector marketing. Redesigning failed shopping malls could be an huge public-sector opportunity.

government investments

Government Investments, Not Government Subsidies

The terms we use matter when designing and promoting public and social goods. I don’t like the term “subsidy” when applied to government programs. It lacks the related themes and ideas that I think we want associated with public spending. The term has also taken on negative connotations that further hinder strengthening our communities through...Continue reading

City Design: Redesigning Failed Municipal Golf Courses

More golf courses have closed than opened since 2006, according to Bloomberg. Many a failed municipal golf course opened during the stock market bubble of the 1990s and the housing market bubble of the 2000s, only to suffer during the Great Recession. In 2013, 14 new courses opened in the U.S. while 157 courses closed.

Scaling micro hydro power in Malawi

A recent story from the Business Innovation Facility about the MEGA project touches many of the themes of this blog: how to distribute affordable energy to rural communities living off the grid at the bottom of the economic pyramid. It also raises an interesting question about scale.

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