First Cities Chosen for Bloomberg Philanthropies’ What Works Cities

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The first eight cities have been selected to participate in Bloomberg Philanthropies’ What Works Cities – a $42 million initiative to help 100 mid-sized American cities enhance their use of data and evidence to improve the lives of residents. The mayors of Chattanooga, TN; Jackson, MS; Kansas City, MO Louisville, KY; Mesa, AZ; New Orleans, LA; Seattle, WA; and Tulsa, OK have publicly committed to enhance their use of data and evidence in order to improve services, inform local decision making and engage citizens.

These eight cities will receive expert support and peer-to-peer learning opportunities to make government more effective. Since the launch of the What Works Cities initiative in April 2015, mayors from every region of the country have expressed their desire for technical assistance to use data more productively. Within the first six weeks, 112 U.S. cities across 40 states applied to be a part of the program. One hundred cities will be admitted to the program on a rolling basis through 2017.

“Making better use of data is one of the best opportunities cities have to solve problems and deliver better results for their citizens,” said Michael R. Bloomberg. “The first group of cities in the What Works Cities program represent the range of local leaders across the country who are committed to using data and evidence to improve people’s everyday lives.”

What Works Cities collaborates with participating municipalities to review their current use of data and evidence, understand where they are utilizing best practices and identify areas for growth. Through its expert partners, What Works Cities then designs a customized approach to help mayors address a variety of local issues including economic development and job creation, public health, and social services.

The first cities selected plan to improve their use of data and evidence in the following ways:

  • Jackson and Mesa will implement open data practices for the first time
  • Chattanooga, Kansas City, Louisville, New Orleans, Seattle, and Tulsa will strengthen existing open data practices
  • Jackson and Tulsa will implement a citywide, mayoral led performance management program for the first time
  • Chattanooga, Kansas City, and Mesa will strengthen existing performance management programs
  • New Orleans and Louisville will develop the capacity to conduct low-cost, real time program evaluations
  • Seattle will focus on integrating data and evidence into their contracts to achieve better results

The What Works Cities initiative capitalizes on Bloomberg Philanthropies’ belief in the importance of data and evidence to improve people’s lives and make government more effective. In cities across the country, mayors are increasingly relying on data and evidence to deliver better results for city residents. For example, New Orleans’ City Hall used data to reduce blighted residences by 10,000 and increased the number of homes brought into compliance by 62% in 2 years. The City’s “BlightStat” program has put New Orleans, once behind in efforts to revitalize abandoned and decaying properties, at the forefront of national efforts.

New York City focused efforts to reduce air pollution and improved the health of residents after the local government studied and publicly released data showing which areas of the city were most polluted, and which local sources were contributing the most harmful air pollutants. Louisville is now using data from volunteers who attached GPS trackers to their asthma inhalers to better identify and target the sources of air pollution. And Kansas City achieved a 20% increase in overall satisfaction with the city’s image since 2010, after using data from their annual citizen survey and 311 services to drive decision-making for city departments.