BREAKING: Austin is one of 35 Champion Cities selected today as finalists in the 2018 U.S. Mayors Challenge, a nationwide competition that encourages city leaders to uncover new ideas for the toughest problems cities face.
Austin proposes to use blockchain technology to provide homeless residents with a unique identifier that allows them to access their personal records at any time, enabling access to critical services. For those experiencing homelessness in Austin, lack of ID can mean barriers to, or delays in, their access to housing, employment, and other services critical to dignity, support, and recovery. Imagine if, instead of experiencing broken hand-offs from hospitals to respite care or from substance abuse recovery programs to shelter that adversely impact recovery, a client is able to provide access to their digital passport which has an auditable account of what happens next in the system of care. Blockchain would make data easily available across different social service and healthcare organizations to help service delivery personnel frustrated by working with incomplete information and provide more consistent and reliable access to those experiencing homelessness. Austin is one of 35 US cities competing for the grand prize – others include Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC.
Mayor Pro Tem and my colleagues on the Council, Manager Cronk, distinguished guests, and fellow Austinites:
Before I begin, I want to thank Consul General Carlos Gonzalez Gutierrez of Mexico for introducing me this evening.
People don’t realize that how closely we are working together these days. It hasn’t always been so. Used to be we saw each other only at happy occasions, like at Casa Mexico during SXSW.
Times have changed, and so has our relationship. I want to tell you something that not many people know. When the immigration raids began earlier last year and Austin was made a particular target, we had no reliable access to information except what we got from my friend, the Consul General. At that moment, we found ourselves in common cause in service of this city — and all of its people.
That bond was strengthened when Hurricane Harvey looked like it was headed right at us. His government immediately offered shelter to any Texan who might need it.
You and your wife were in our local shelters tending to all our guests. Again and again, my friend, you demonstrate that you care about people – all people – yours, mine, and ours.
Consul General Gonzalez Gutierrez, you are my partner in some of the biggest challenges facing our two countries. Tonight, I pledge to you not only continued brotherhood and friendship, but continued vigilance in our efforts on immigration.
We want our neighbors in Austin to be safe regardless of who they are or where they came from. We know preserving trust makes us the safest big city in the state. We will not use fear to divide our community. Consul General, you can count on Austin.
So let’s begin… Now, more than ever, I value opportunities for us to take stock of a year’s progress and to measure ourselves against the needs of the future.
In these turbulent times, we must deliberately and seriously speak and act in a way true to who we are. Our city continues to face formidable challenges. We cannot pretend we don’t see them. We need to act and to plan for what the future will bring.
The question you should be asking is whether your Council has the will to seize the moment and to act on the scale of our challenges. The answer to that question, when you look back a year and look ahead a year, is “yes.”
Ten years from now… twenty years from now… a new generation of Austinites will ask us what we did, at this time of great risk, to preserve and protect the magic of Austin. This is our moment.
We must act with our eyes focused clearly on the future. Continue reading