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Economy

How Local Governments Could Work More Like Cell Phones

A young American in Guatemala wants to bring a spirit of entrepreneurship to municipal governance through his think tank, the Startup Cities Institute.
Zachary Caceres
Zachary CaceresCourtesy Zachary Caceres

Zachary Caceres likes to tell people about a conversation he had with a trash picker in a Guatemalan landfill. She told him a tragic story rife with slums, corruption, and violence—in short, life at the mercy of public policy failures—until a ringing phone interrupted her.

"And she reached into her pocket and pulled out this really nice smart phone," Caceres says. "That's the central paradox of the modern world. How can you have access to such incredible futuristic physical technologies, but social technologies like governance are so deeply dysfunctional for billions of people around the world?"