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Tampa Mayor Jane Castor discusses a new innovation program in Tampa.

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Jane Castor launches ‘Intersection of Innovation’ at Synapse Summit

The program lets local experts pitch new solutions to old problems.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor is launching a new initiative calling on innovators to work with the city to tackle some of its biggest challenges.

Intersection of Innovation is a call to action to experts, startups and general problem solvers to address transportation, development, housing affordability, workforce development and sustainability and resiliency — Castor’s five Transforming Tampa’s Tomorrow areas of focus.

The initiative gives individuals the opportunity to pitch project ideas to key city personnel. They’re also encouraged to identify potential projects to meet residents’ needs. The city would consider those projects for future pilot programs through a new “City as a Lab” program.

“The future is all about innovation. So as a city, we need to do everything that we can to be a catalyst for progress and to keep Tampa on the cutting edge,” Castor said. “Right now, we have a chance to transform Tampa into the world-class city we all want to live, work, and play in — but in order to get there, we have to work smarter, not harder — and we have to work together. That’s why we need innovators on our side working with our amazing city staff to tackle our greatest challenges and help us reach our goals.”

Castor discussed the new initiative during a Fireside Chat at the Synapse Summit where thousands of entrepreneurs, tech-experts, and innovators are currently participating a 2-day series of talks and workshops.

By engaging the community, Castor hopes to foster a positive working relationship with the public that will lead to smart solutions that improve quality of life for residents.

“Synapse is excited to be working with a Visionary Mayor that is supportive of Tampa’s growing tech ecosystem. We look forward to continuing to work with her and her team to move our region forward” said Brian Kornfeld, co-founder and president of Synapse Florida.

The city is already undertaking some civic innovation projects. That includes wayfinding for people with visual disabilities through an app that helps the visually impaired find their way between transit stops and City Hall, the Municipal Office Building and the Lighthouse for the Blind and Low Vision. The app will launch in October.

Another app the city is partnering on would connect various forms of transportation available in the city — including the Streetcar, busses, the Pirate Water Taxi, scooters and ride-share — into one cohesive app to plan, book and pay for trips.

The city’s curbside management pilot allows ride-share drivers, commercial delivery trucks and other vehicles to reserve city curb space. The goal is to reduce double-parking and mitigate traffic and parking congestion.

The Intersection of Innovation aims to increase those types of projects.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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