FWDThinking Episode 24: Design and data for government innovation

Alistair Croll in conversation with Melissa Bridges and Kord Davis

Published On Jan 3, 2022


All opinions expressed in these episodes are personal and do not reflect the opinions of the organizations for which our guests work.


For over 10 years, Melissa Bridges worked for Little Rock, Arkansas. From a start in network security, she eventually became the city’s performance and innovation coordinator.

During that time, she began collaborating with Kord Davis, an expert on data and design thinking and the co-founder of Signal Workshop, a consultancy that helps groups collaborate and innovate.  

In this packed conversation, Melissa and Kord reveal some of the ways their work has changed the city. In one example, encouraging data sharing among different groups (social work, policing, fire, and more) reduced police interventions and reduced arrests and altercations. In another, by picking a single city block, then diving deep into its systemic issues, they realized that fixing lighting had a significant impact on public safety.

Their work included nonprofits, and stakeholders whose input is often dismissed. And it was iterative—underscoring the notion that data is an ongoing conversation as new knowledge prompts new questions.

Ultimately, Kord and Melissa focused on practical results; got the right people in the room; and changed the culture to one of design thinking and data-informed decisions, with impressive results. You can listen to our conversation above for more details.

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