The city is collaborating with four neighborhoods to identify local challenges and solicit solutions through city-backed RFPs

We can never get a re-creation of community and heal our society without giving our citizens a sense of belonging.” – Patch Adams

Long Beach is getting hyperlocal with its smart community development. In a first-of-its-kind effort, the city has engaged with residents from four neighborhoods to identify local challenges, draft discrete problem statements, and release requests for proposals (RFPs) for technology-based solutions to the problems they face. Housed under the Long Beach Collaboratory, or LB Co-Lab, this initiative is encouraging residents to think critically about the issues troubling their communities and the technologies that might help address them. 

As part of the LB Co-Lab effort, residents were grouped into four neighborhood coalitions to work toward a pilot deployment of a technology-based solution to their identified problem. Each coalition wrote a problem statement and distributed its own RFP. The goal is to ensure the city invests in technology enhancements based on actual community needs, and to equip residents with technical skills and project design and development knowledge. 

Although all four neighborhoods form part of Long Beach, each coalition has focused on a different problem area, illustrating the communities’ diverse needs.

The Four Smart City Projects

The LB Co-Lab’s resident engagement approach aimed to spark, fund, and implement resident-designed technology infrastructure for four neighborhoods: 


The Hamilton neighborhood coalition identified pedestrian safety as their primary challenge. They recognized the need for a technology-based street improvement solution to promote pedestrian safety, enhance visibility, and encourage positive neighborhood experiences for community stakeholders such as residents, businesses, and students. With a clear idea of the challenge they wanted to overcome, the coalition wrote and issued the  Pedestrian Safety in the Hamilton Neighborhood RFP. 

Ramona Park

The Ramona Park participants agreed to tackle connectivity challenges in their neighborhood. The group wants reliable connectivity across the neighborhood’s public spaces for residents, businesses, and visitors. With a good understanding of the problem to be addressed, they wrote and issued the Connectivity in the Ramona Park Neighborhood RFP. 


The Westside neighborhood coalition is seeking to improve the utilization rate and safety of the local Silverado Park for residents, businesses, and visitors. They have issued the Park Utilization and Safety in the Westside Neighborhood RFP for tech-enabled solutions that can reduce the number of violent incidents the Park, and improve residents’ comfort at night while in the park. Possible solutions could include interactive signage, pedestrian and user sensors, or lighting safety enhancements. 


Street safety emerged as the challenge area for the Willmore coalition. They identified the need for a human-scale, accessible, simple, and non-threatening technology-based solution to promote pedestrian and cyclist safety. With that goal in mind, along with the desire to create a sense of community well-being, the coalition drafted and issued the Safe Streets RFP. 

For each RFP, LB Co-Lab will award up to $35,000 for an initial pilot contract for a period of up to 12 months. More information can be found on the LB Co-Lab website. Proposals are due by Friday, June 30 at 5 p.m. PT.

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Steps to Create a Sense of Belonging

The city of Long Beach knew it needed to be strategic when choosing the four neighborhoods to participate in this initiative so that they would reach the communities with the most need. To make its selections, the LB Co-Lab analyzed data on Internet access, unemployment rates, age demographics, and prevalence of COVID-19 cases across different areas in the city.

Once the LB Co-Lab identified the target neighborhoods, they needed to set up the sixty interested participants for success. To do this, they offered two workshops to help the sixty interested residents and stakeholders. The first workshop introduced participants to the program and allowed residents to meet their coalition members and begin to brainstorm the issues they wanted to address. The second workshop, facilitated by US Ignite, taught the residents about smart cities and the promises and limitations of technology solutions. Residents also learned about problem statements and the steps for developing an RFP. 

While no silver bullet exists to create a sense of belonging, unique approaches like this one can successfully encourage community members to solve neighborhood-level challenges. 

Up Next 

In the coming months, the LB Co-Lab’s participants will receive additional training in technology development, a professional certificate, a $1,000 stipend, and the opportunity to make recommendations for scaling the project beyond the initial pilot phase. 

US Ignite, with the support of the Knight Foundation, collaborated on the project as advisors and facilitators and will continue to work with Long Beach on spreading the word about the open RFPs and news of milestones reached within each of the neighborhoods’ pilots. If you want to follow this story and others like it, subscribe to the US Ignite monthly newsletter