Monthly Archives: January 2013

Changes ‘That Don’t Roll Back’: Using Technology to Institutionalize Innovation

Kevin G. Kelly, deputy commissioner of NYC Business Customer Service in the New York City Mayor’s Office,
discusses how the city uses technology to improve efficiency and radically restructure how businesses interact with
government. January 2013


KELLY: Create a new operating normal so that there is no other way to do it. And that’s really the way to use
powerful levers like technology to make changes that don’t roll back.

ROB WOLF: I’m Rob Wolf, director of communication at the Center for Court Innovation. With
me today is Aubrey Fox, the Center for Court Innovation’s director of strategic planning. Today we’re looking
at how technology can be used to improve government and institutionalize innovation. Helping us explore these issues
is Kevin G. Kelly, deputy commissioner of NYC Business Customer Service in the New York City Mayor’s Office. Thanks
for hosting us in your office today.

KELLY: My pleasure.

You’ve been working at the intersection of technology and government for a number of years, particularly helping
change the way businesses interact with city agencies. How important has technology been to that effort and what
have you been able to achieve?

KELLY: Well technology has been a fundamental building blocking driving innovation and radically restructuring how
businesses interact with the city. And if you find a process that’s in a manual state, or that’s paper-based,
or that requires people to go from their place of business to a city location in order to fill out a form and pay
a fee with a money order, bringing technology to bear so that they can enter their information remotely, pay for
things online with a credit card, and manage their transactions with the city using technology has really enabled
us to take what had been a series of fragmented and paper-based processes, and bring them into the 21st century.

AUBREY FOX: Can you give us some concrete examples of
where technology has changed how a customer interacts, or how a citizen interacts with the city?

KEVIN KELLY: So prior to the city building a website
called NYC Business Express, there were no licenses or permits or certifications that businesses required online.
In all cases, those papers needed to either be mailed in or brought into a physical location, so on NYC Business
Express, there’s now 57 licenses, permits, and certifications that a business can go online, create a very simple
account, select the licenses and permits that they need for their business type, pay with a credit card, and send
all of the data to a city agency for processing.

AUBREY FOX: And I can imagine that the opportunities to use technology to improve these processes
are endless. How do you choose what you focus on?

KEVIN KELLY: That’s a great question. So start at one end of the spectrum, which is sort of
Nirvana. If you had $10 billion in 10 years, you could replace every existing legacy system and mainframe, and then
think about practical elements. The amount of money that’s available, how much time the disruption to business
is, etc. The best possible solutions are ones that allow us to leave, to the extent possible, systems that are fundamentally
sound in place so that from a customer perspective, things are radically transformed. They can do things over the
web, they can access the Internet, they can create an account, they can transact with the city. They don’t know
what’s going on behind the curtain. And what’s behind the curtain is sort of an aggregation of technology
solutions leveraging, to the extent possible, the good and the sound and the viable that’s there, with targeted,
specific system switch-outs in cases where it was impossible to mold or extract value out of something that was already
in place.

it’s important to say that you’re using technology to try to meet a policy goal, which is to increase access
to business activity.

The other component piece that I would add is that when you make it so difficult to understand what it is that you’re
supposed to do in order to be in compliance. There are businesses that will move forward with their business plan
anyway and they are, you know, just sort of taking a chance that they’re not gonna get caught. So wrapped up
in the economic development objective is also increasing compliance, and increasing the quality of compliance that
business have with oversight agencies like the fire department, and the department of buildings, and the health department.

AUBREY FOX: Does your department have the freedom to
choose where you go? I mean can you survey a city business and say, now I want to look at problem x, now I want to
look at problem y?

We have a tremendous amount of latitude inside of some fairly well understood parameters. So for NYC business customer
service, anything that touches on city and, in certain cases, other government oversight requests and demands on
the part of businesses are part of what we’re focusing on and working on. So it could be regulatory analysis,
taking a look at all those laws and requirements associated with licenses and permits and thinking about ways to
simplify the “what” of it. It could be operational transformation, which is the “how” of it.
How you change the way in which things get done. It could be learning and planning, instructional, or producing videos
that are designed to show businesses elements of oversight requirement that potentially would require 15 pages of
text, but if you show someone in a video what you’re talking about, it can be 30 seconds, or two minutes, or
two and a half minutes.

So are there issues around the mayor’s achieved certain fundamental shifts and changes, and you want to embed
those changes in this technology? I mean is that part of it as well?

KEVIN KELLY: It’s not so much embedding the changes in the technology. It’s using the
technology to create a new operating normal so that there is no other way to do it. And that’s really the way
to use powerful levers like technology to make changes that don’t roll back. Because the easy changes are policy
changes. “I hereby declare that…”, you know, or executive orders or, you know, things that happen at
50,000 feet—change with administrations, change with different commissioners, etc. But when you operate at the operational
and technological level, and you change the way things were done and create the way things are done, and you make
it impossible for things to be done in the way that they were, then you’ve effectively guarded against roll
back. And the only thing that you need to concern yourself with when you’re integrating technology into operational
processes is to remember that not everyone can access the Internet. Not everyone is comfortable accessing the Internet.
Some people need support. Some people have language barriers, some people have other types of disabilities. So you
transform your current customer service locations or processing centers that are seeing lots of over the counter
traffic from everyone, because everyone has to do it this way. Those locations should be for the people who need

ROB WOLF: It’s hard
for me to visualize a policy change at the 50,000 feet that you described, that then surfaces in a drop-down menu
on an online questionnaire or something. Can you give an example of how you would take something that—

KEVIN KELLY: Sure, lots of examples. So if an administration
or legislative body decides that people who are looking for certain types of social service should not have to go
through intake 15 times, right? So you can have a policy that says data sharing among social service agencies will
be utilized in order to reduce the number of times someone has to fill out duplicate forms. Then what that can translate
into is a website that has a uniform sort of data capture front end, right? A form that has the three fields that
everyone uses— name, address, phone number, email address, social security number, etc. And then, and on the back
end, that same data packet could be sent to multiple agencies to process someone for specific services, but it doesn’t
mean that that person has to over, and over, and over supply the same information.

AUBREY FOX: Creating a new normal. That seems like the power of technology
at its best. Would you say that’s correct?

KEVIN KELLY: Yes. Technology is without a doubt the single most powerful tool that can be used in
a service delivery realm to create a new operating normal. But in and of itself, it doesn’t necessarily do the
trick. So the business process re-engineering has to happen. You have to analyze what the oversight or policy objectives
are, and I think sometimes where folks get in trouble—not just in government, in private sector it happens all the
time as well—is when they think of technology as an end rather than a means, and they become enamored of a technology
for itself, as if in and of itself it was something that was worthy of admiration, or worthy of consideration.

ROB WOLF: We’ve been talking with Kevin G. Kelly,
who is the deputy commissioner of NYC Business Customer Service in the New York City Mayor’s Office. Thanks so much,
Kevin, for taking the time to talk to us.

KELLY: It was my pleasure. Thanks very much for your interest.

ROB WOLF: If people want to just get a sense of some of the innovations we’re talking about,
is there a web address they can go to to learn more?

KEVIN KELLY: Sure. So one would be, and you can look at the one stop
tool that we’ve built for businesses to make it easier to start to operate and expand in the city. Another website
would be, which is the website for the city’s new business acceleration team that works with
food service establishments in a quicker, more efficient manner.

ROB WOLF: That’s great, well thank you very much. I’m Rob Wolf, director of communication
at the Center for Court Innovation, and I’ve been here with—

AUBREY FOX: Aubrey Fox, the director of strategic planning.

ROB WOLF: And to find out more about Center for Court Innovation or to
listen to our podcasts, you can go to our website at You can also download our podcasts
on iTunes. Thank you very much for listening.

Testing a Public Health Approach to Gun Violence: A conversation on new research

Authors of new research about gun
in Brooklyn, New York, Sarah Picard-Fritsche and Lenore Cerniglia discuss findings on
Save Our Streets (SOS) Crown Heights, an approach to gun violence prevention in the Crown Heights neighborhood. The
new report, “Testing
a Public Health Approach to Gun Violence
,” details a comprehensive impact and process evaluation of Save
Our Streets, which is based on the Cure Violence model that treats outbreaks of violence like epidemics of disease.

Additional Resources

To download a Q &
A with the authors, click here.

To read a press release about the findings, click

SARAH SCHWEIG: Hi, I’m Sarah Schweig
of the Center for Court Innovation, and today I’m speaking with Sarah Picard-Fritsche and Lenore Cerniglia,
authors of new research about gun violence in Brooklyn, New York, and an approach to preventing it in the Crown Heights
neighborhood. The new report, Testing a Public Health Approach to Gun Violence, details a comprehensive impact and
process evaluation of Save Our Streets Crown Heights, a program started in 2010. Save Our Streets is based on the
Cure Violence model which treats outbreaks of violence like epidemics of disease, taking a public health approach
similar to campaigns that have addressed risky behaviors such as smoking or not wearing seat belts. Thanks for speaking
with me today and welcome. The Save Our Streets Crown Heights approach to stopping gun violence, known as the Cure
Violence model, uses violence interrupters to prevent shootings before they happen. Can you speak a bit about the
origins of the model and who these violence interrupters are, what their background is, and what violence interruption
actually looks like in practice.

SARAH PICARD-FRITSCHE: The origins of the SOS model, the Save
Our Streets model, it comes from Chicago. The first program of this type began in 1999 and it was designed by a public
health scholar named Dr. Gary Slutkin, and essentially violence interrupters are just a piece of a multi-part model,
but the violence interrupter’s job is to go into a community where they are familiar with those folks who are
at high risk of becoming perpetrators or victims of gun violence and work directly with those folks to try to come
up with—to mediate the conflict and come up with alternatives to gun violence as a solution to the conflict.

SARAH SCHWEIG: Great, and where do they generally come from? How do they have that kind of expertise?

SARAH PICARD-FRITSCHE: Well they’re considered, under the model, credible messengers. Essentially because
they have a background that is either, they were gang involved or possibly perpetrators or victims of some kind of
violence, if not gun violence in the past. Usually they’re from the target community but if they’re not,
they are currently living in or are familiar with the target community. So that means that they, and so they’ve also
sort of turned their lives around so they are able to talk with the folks that are currently involved in the violence
about how to change. So they go out into the community, they find the folk that they knew before they turned their
lives around, start talking to them, find out what the current conflicts are, go find the people that are involved
in the conflicts, and try to work with them directly.

SARAH SCHWEIG: because this approach is
about prevention, I would imagine that evaluation is kind of tricky in that you’re trying to kind of gauge the
amount of violence that was prevented by this approach. So what was your methodology like for this research and how
did you get the numbers that suggest to you that Save Our Streets Crown Heights is really working?

PICARD-FRITSCHE: Well it is difficult to evaluate. I’m going to let Lenore speak about the impact evaluation,
which is how we measure the reduction in gun violence in Crown Heights.

of all, we used quasi-experimental design where we took the shooting numbers from the NYPD for fatal and non-fatal
shootings for the Crown Heights precinct as well as adjacent precincts to Crown Heights that had similar demographics
and crime numbers. And we took those numbers in addition to the shooting numbers from Brooklyn as a whole from a
period of approximately 17 months prior to the start of SOS as well as 21 months following its implementation, to
see if there are any changes as well as the trends that were going on. So our idea was, if we can look at what’s
going on in beforehand, as well as these similarly matched areas in Brooklyn as a whole, then we can see once Crown
Heights has been going on for some times if these changes are also either reflected in these similar areas, or if
crime was displaced from Crown Heights into these adjacent precincts.

Public Health Approach to Gun Violence gives the numbers that the average monthly shooting rates in Crown Heights
decreased by 6 percent. In surrounding areas, shooting rates increased by 18-28 percent, and that suggests that gun
violence in Crown Heights is about 20 percent lower than it would have been without Save Our Streets. Did the report
considers whether violence was forced out of Crown Heights into the surrounding areas like you said, the displacement
of violence?

LENORE CERNIGLIA: Yes, and we were able to test that by looking at the shooting numbers
from Brooklyn as a whole, from the whole borough, and we found that the whole borough was going up at the same rates
as these surroundings precincts as well, so Crown Heights was kind of that jewel that was actually decreasing while
surrounding precincts, and the entire borough were increasing at much higher rates. 

SARAH SCHWEIG: Right, places far away from Crown Heights.
So the report also shows that over 100 potentially deadly conflicts were mediated by violence interrupters since
2010 and that violence interrupters mediated conflicts involving more than 1,300 people. It also showed that Save
Our Streets increases residents’ confidence in the power of community to prevent gun violence. Why is the confidence
of the residents so important in violence prevention?

research which essentially shows that community level values and community confidence in the ability of their community
to solve shared social problems has a very real impact on the actual. So, in the case of violence, the lower the
tolerance at the community level for violence, the lower the violence, regardless of whether the average community
member is involved in violence themselves. So it’s basically a concept of collective efficacy. And what the
norms of your community are affect what our individual behavior is gonna be. So in this project we found that there
was a change, a statistically significant and substantial change in the way that a representative sample of residents
in Crown Heights answered a question, the question being—How likely is it that community mobilization campaign to
bring down violence would actually bring down violence? And many more people said that it would after the campaign
than before the campaign.

SARAH SCHWEIG: Maybe one of you can talk just briefly about what a shooting
response really looks like, and why that is so visible to community members.

What they are is a targeted response to an actual shooting even that has happened, and it happens within 72 hours
of the event. And typically they bring out folks who were close to the victim and other community members who are
angry, upset, saddened about the levels of violence in the community. And they make, basically, a show of themselves.
And the message is essentially, we won’t tolerate this anymore. It’s not just to remember the victim, but
to let the folks know out there, that are involved in the violence that the community won’t put up with it anymore.

LENORE CERNIGLIA: And they call it a vigil. A shooting vigil.

many factors, as I’m sure you guys know, affect violence levels in communities. Was it difficult to attribute
decrease of violence in Crown Heights as opposed to other methods like stop and frisk?

CERNIGLIA: Well initially when we were first trying to figure out what precincts we were going to compare Crown Heights
to, we made sure that we didn’t pick any precincts that had other specific programs going on. Stop and frisk,
and other NYPD policies are city-wide, so we would expect that they would be going on in Crown Heights as well as
the surrounding precincts such as Bed-Stuy or East Flatbush. So we also made sure that we took time periods that
wouldn’t overlap with other prevention programs going on in that area. We did also look at arrest numbers for
those precincts as well as for Crown Heights in that time period, to make sure that there weren’t large round-ups
of people being arrested, which would then possibly also drive down numbers, and we didn’t find any significant
changes over the time period that we were looking at.

SARAH PICARD-FRITSCHE: Right, so the arrest
numbers were steady over the period. If they had done like some huge sting you would expect like a bunch of arrests
and then a lower violence rate the next month. We didn’t find that.

it important to evaluate interventions like Save Our Streets and what can Save Our Streets, SOS itself take from
this report moving forward, do you think?

SARAH PICARD-FRITSCHE: Well, as researchers, we think
evaluation is the most important part of any program… Um, you know, I think that in particular
these programs, because they are multi-component and because they are community oriented, it’s not like a laboratory
where you can measure one mechanism that produces one result. There’s a lot going on. And the folks on the ground
in the program don’t always know what’s going on. So as researchers, we try to get a big picture and the
way we build that picture is to do our best to measure every single component. I think the folks in the program can—and
I actually went there last week and talked to them and told them they can be very proud of the work that they’ve
done so far. They’re actually quite data-oriented down there, so they’re already kind of looking at where
they can improve in the future. But I do think there are questions regarding the program, that more specific programs
that would be great if we could answer. We don’t know for sure when someone reports that a conflict is resolved
that it actually is resolved.

LENORE CERNIGLIA: And I would just add, I think for Cure Violence
as a whole, this shows that the model, when adhered to closely, can be replicated in an inner city with a dense population
because it has been tried in Chicago and Baltimore and many other cities. So this just shows that you know, it could
reach a different type of population and kind of area.

is different so the more positive evaluations we get, the more confidence we have in the model as a whole.

SARAH SCHWEIG: Well it’s been great speaking with
you today. I’m Sarah Schweig and I’ve been speaking with researchers Sarah Picard-Fritsche and Lenore Cerniglia
about gun violence prevention and the role communities can play in stopping conflict, as well as the importance of
evaluating innovations like Save Our Streets. To find out more about the Center for Court Innovation, or to download
the new report on Save Our Streets Crown Heights, visit our website at Thanks for listening.