• News
  • September 11, 2019
  • 6 minutes
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Weekly Briefing: pushing the boundaries in government

Our weekly rundown of global policy

Top Stories

How to be more productive in the public service. Archaic, bureaucratic systems can hamper productivity for public servants. There’s no one quick fix that will give you laser-like focus, but these smart tools and tricks can help. (Apolitical)

Seven ways to push the boundaries in government. It takes more than talking about cross-departmental working to bring about innovation — what’s often neglected is the role of individuals. Here are the seven skills you need. (Thea Snow, Nesta)

Is AI for government worth the hype? AI can be treated with suspicion or seen as a cure-all. The OECD’s Observatory of Public Sector Innovation has reviewed different AI strategies to find the most robust approaches for government. (Rebecca Santos and Kévin Kok Heang, OECD)

Everyone is affected by gender norms in health policy. These stereotypes impact how we access health services, and the way those services are structured. Here are eleven ways to reflect on your approach to health policy and gender. (Rosemary Morgan, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health)

Social prescribing: is it more than placebo? Prescribing non-medicinal activities to sick people isn’t new, but the policy is quickly gaining traction in the UK, Canada and Denmark. Advocates love it for the freedom it offers patients, but critics question the evidence for its effectiveness. (Apolitical)


What makes a good product manager? Join our free online workshop. On 23 October, we’ll discuss tips and techniques for bringing policy, design, research and product teams together, to explore how to design services for, and with, everyone. (Apolitical)

Violence in schools affects everyone — learn more in a free online micro-course. It’s proven to have a significant effect on public health, crime and labour market success, but is too often tackled in a silo. Sign up to find innovative strategies to help keep children safe in school. (Apolitical)


Have you worked on an interesting policy? Want to share your thoughts on a policymaking trend? Reach influencers in 160+ countries by contributing to Apolitical as an opinion writer. Submit your idea here.

Governance and Civic Engagement

Los Angeles’ scooter users are being watched. Local officials require scooter operators to send the city information on where they are and when they’re in use. The scooters raise an important question — it’s not fully clear where local governments stand on California’s data privacy laws. (CityLab)

Health and Ageing

“Tick box” approaches to patient engagement are not enough. The UK’s first “Patient Director” has written a new book exploring how users can co-produce health services, advocating that putting patients at the centre can challenge the bureaucratic status quo. (Nesta)

Energy, Environment and Economic Opportunity

As the Amazon burns, São Paulo is prioritising sustainable agriculture. São Paulo leaders realised that the municipality can boost sustainability by supporting its rural district next to the city. Officials hired agronomists, offering technical expertise to boost yields without using artificial fertilizers. (Bloomberg Cities)

Kenya is building Africa’s largest wind farm. Kenya is known for its progressive climate policies — 70% of the country’s electricity is renewable. But concerns are building about the project’s approach to indigenous communities, and that local homes won’t be powered by the farm’s electricity. (The Conversation)

Climate gentrification is the next problem for housing policy. Incomers are moving to previously undesirable neighbourhoods to seek safety from the effects of climate change. Norfolk, Virginia is trying to preserve its public housing stock, under threat from both the weather and the wealthy. (Mother Jones)


“Let’s get beyond images of scary robots and cyborgs, provocative as they are, and start building some practical knowledge for how government should understand, plan for, manage and leverage AI for people and the public good.” – Rebecca Santos, OPSI Advisor, and Kévin Kok Héang, OPSI Consultant

Evolving Cities

Singaporeans host their birthday parties at the airport. Singapore’s Changi Airport has become a public amenity, designed to lure in locals with user-friendly design, a four-story rainforest and a roof-top swimming pool. Public transport to the airport is cheap — less than $2 USD. (CityLab)

And Finally

Jaden Smith is cleaning Flint’s water. Pop star, prolific tweeter and son of Hollywood royalty, Smith co-founded a non-profit using ‘water boxes’ to clean the city’s municipal water supply after it was first contaminated with lead in 2014. The second box was installed this month in northern Flint. (Fast Company)

(Picture credit: Unsplash)


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