NLC Congratulates Winners of Inaugural Capstone Challenge Series

February 22, 2022 - (4 min read)

Washington, D.C. — The National League of Cities is thrilled to congratulate the two winning groups of the inaugural Capstone Challenge Series – Accela and the City of Madison, WI; and Esri and the City of Cedar Rapids, IA, City-County of Butte-Silver Bow, MT, and Town of Purcellville, VA. The Capstone Challenge Series is an annual program to match private sector partners with member cities on projects to benefit their municipalities. The most innovative and impactful projects received an award, announced on February 10.

“I am thrilled to congratulate the two winning groups of the inaugural Capstone Challenge – Accela and Madison, WI; and Esri, Cedar Rapids, IA, Butte-Silver Bow, MT, and Purcellville, VA,” said Clarence E. Anthony, CEO and Executive Director of NLC. “The innovative projects that these groups completed show the power of cross-sector collaboration and partnership in creating impact in our communities. Each of these projects focused on equity, ensuring that the most vulnerable residents were included. Each project also created tools and resources that can be shared and utilized by all municipalities, extending the impact of the project beyond the participating cities. NLC values the participation of all the partners and communities in this cohort and look forward to continuing to partner together in the future.”

Enhancing City Responsiveness to Resident Service Requests with Accela and Madison, WI

Accela® and Madison’s collaboration focused on significantly enhancing the city’s Report a Problem service to allow residents to easily alert the city to community issues and needs, such as pothole reporting and street clearing requests, while automating back-office tasks typically handled by Madison staff to free up resources for more valuable work. The project team included representatives from the mayor’s office, IT Department, and the city’s Racial Equity & Social Justice Initiative (RESJI) team working in partnership with Accela. In addition, to ensure the community of Madison is aware of the improved services, Accela built and delivered a complete marketing toolkit the city—and any other municipality as well—can use to promote the city services.

“Accela is proud to be trusted by innovative governments, like the City of Madison, that seek to transform and modernize their service delivery, and we are thrilled to be recognized by the NLC for this collaborative effort,” said Heidi Lorenzen, senior vice president, marketing at Accela. “This project is just one example of what’s possible when technical and creative talent is brought together to achieve a clearly defined and impactful goal. We are excited to see how our combined efforts will benefit the Madison community for years to come.”

Bringing Affordable, Reliable Broadband to All Residents Through GIS with Esri – Cedar Rapids, IA – Butte-Silver Bow, MT – Purcellville, VA

Esri worked with three municipalities to pilot geographic information system (GIS) solutions to address broadband availability. Cedar Rapids, Purcellville, and Butte-Silver Bow launched an ArcGIS Survey123 app, incorporating Ookla’s Speed Test app, that allowed them to crowdsource internet speed tests from households. With foundational, authoritative data captured, the three cities leveraged Esri’s new Social Equity Analysis solution, allowing them to understand gaps in broadband coverage in relation to vulnerable populations using key indicators such as Census demographics. The output from the tool helps cities identify the areas within the community that are adversely affected by lack of reliable broadband access. These insights will help the cities apply for state and federal dollars and identify a strategic target area to fund and execute their broadband expansion.

“If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that the digital divide is real,” said Christopher Thomas, Director of Government Markets for Esri. “Our goal in participating in NLC’s Capstone Challenge was to ensure governments have the tools they need to address broadband needs head on. Working directly with city leaders, we were able to develop, test, and deliver solutions that will help these cities and their peers prioritize future broadband investment, understand the needs of residents, more quickly partner with providers, and secure federal and state funding.”

About Accela
Accela provides a unified suite of cloud solutions trusted by governments across the globe to accelerate their digital transformation, deliver vital services, and build stronger communities. More than 275 million citizens worldwide benefit from Accela’s government software solutions. Accela is headquartered in San Ramon, California, with offices around the world. For more information, visit

About Esri
Esri, the global market leader in geographic information system (GIS) software, location intelligence, and mapping, helps customers unlock the full potential of data to improve operational and business results. With its pioneering commitment to geospatial information technology, Esri engineers the most innovative solutions for digital transformation, the Internet of Things (IoT), and advanced analytics. Visit us at


The National League of Cities (NLC) is the voice of America’s cities, towns and villages, representing more than 200 million people across the country. NLC works to strengthen local leadership, influence federal policy and drive innovative solutions. Stay connected with NLC on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.