Courtesy of Bloomberg Philanthropies

Thanks to its innovative proposal to use drones to respond to gunshot violence, Louisville is among 35 finalist Champion Cities in the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ 2018 Mayors Challenge, which recognizes novel ideas to tackle tough problems.

Chosen from among more than 320 applications, Louisville and the other finalists will receive $100,000 to implement public prototypes of their ideas during a six-month testing phase.

Louisville recently asked federal authorities to be allowed to fly automated drones to locations where a gunshot is detected by its new ShotSpotter technology. The city has said that the drones will help by capturing evidence, save police officers’ time and reduce privacy concerns of static cameras.

Mayor Greg Fischer said in a news release that Louisville’s inclusion among the finalists “is a testament to the creative, entrepreneurial spirit that makes our city one of the most innovative in the nation.”

In a Twitter video, Fischer said the drones could help make cities safer.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Chief of Civic Innovation and Technology Grace Simrall react on Twitter.

“This breakthrough potential, this piece of innovation can make us stand out from the rest of the world,” he said.

The 35 finalists were chosen on criteria including vision, potential for impact, implementation plan and potential to spread to other cities. The selection committee included policy experts, artists and executives, including former Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and former Xerox CEO Ursula Burns.

Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and three-term Mayor of New York City, said in the release that ideas from the 35 finalists “really stood out for their potential to improve people’s lives.”

“The next six months are a great opportunity for the cities to test their ideas and make them even more innovative and effective,” he said.

In October, four cities will receive $1 million each to scale their ideas, and one will get a $5 million grand prize.

Bloomberg Philanthropies works in over 120 countries to create lasting change by focusing on arts, education, public health and environment and government innovation. It distributed $600 million in 2016.

Boris Ladwig is a reporter with more than 20 years of experience and has won awards from multiple journalism organizations in Indiana and Kentucky for feature series, news, First Amendment/community affairs, nondeadline news, criminal justice, business and investigative reporting. As part of The (Columbus, Indiana) Republic’s staff, he also won the Kent Cooper award, the top honor given by the Associated Press Managing Editors for the best overall news writing in the state. A graduate of Indiana State University, he is a soccer aficionado (Borussia Dortmund and 1. FC Köln), singer and travel enthusiast who has visited countries on five continents. He speaks fluent German, rudimentary French and bits of Spanish, Italian, Khmer and Mandarin.


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