Connectivity & Data
Governance and Citizen
Energy & Environment
The annual What Works Cities Certification commends excellence in using evidence and data to improve city services, increase transparency, and promote civic engagement.
Austin, Chattanooga, Detroit and Gilbert have been named as the leading US cities for using data most effectively to improve their services.
In total, 16 US cities have achieved 2021 What Works Cities Certification, which evaluates the degree to which city leaders are using data to inform policy and funding decisions, in Bloomberg Philanthropies fourth annual government innovation initiative.
Bloomberg reports data-informed strategies have enabled these newly certified cities to increase resident satisfaction, reduce carbon emissions, and address homelessness. Since 2018, 40 cities have achieved What Works Cities Certification.
What Works Cities Certification assesses cities based on their data driven decision-making practices such as whether they are using data to set goals and track progress, allocate funding, evaluate the effectiveness of programmes, and achieve desired outcomes from contracts with outside vendors. The programme also measures whether cities are publicly and transparently communicating about their use of data and evidence.
“City leaders are using data to understand and support the needs of residents like never before,” said Michele Jolin, CEO and co-founder of Results for America, the lead partner in the What Works Cities initiative.
“Throughout the Covid crisis and a historic reckoning with racial injustice, mayors have relied on data to identify and narrow racial gaps, and to make smarter investments that increase opportunity for all their residents.”
She continued: “These cities are testing new solutions and measuring what works, rebuilding trust in government by engaging with their residents, and using evidence and data to drive faster progress on their toughest challenges.”
The newly certified cities this year include four cities at gold level: Austin, Texas; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Detroit, Michigan; and Gilbert, Arizona – and 12 cities at silver level: Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Bellevue, Washington; Fort Collins, Colorado; Glendale, Arizona; Irving, Texas; Little Rock, Arizona; Madison, Wisconsin; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Norfolk, Virginia; Portland, Oregon; San Antonio, Texas; and Syracuse, New York.
Each city that participates in certification receives a customised city assessment that highlights their unique strengths and opportunities for improvement. What Works Cities partners then provide coaching, training and technical assistance to help city leaders improve their data and evidence capabilities, embrace new practices aligned to the certification standard, and drive outcomes for their community.
“Since certification was first introduced, cities have made tremendous progress in their ability to build the data capacity and skills needed to drive their decision-making with data and evidence,” added Jennifer Park, founding director of What Works Cities Certification.
“Throughout the Covid crisis and a historic reckoning with racial injustice, mayors have relied on data to identify and narrow racial gaps, and to make smarter investments that increase opportunity for all their residents”
“This year, cities used data and evidence to guide their response to Covid, address budget shortfalls, reimagine public safety, advance equity, and much more. Data wasn’t just a valuable tool for city leaders – it was a necessity.
These newly certified cities are among the 254 local governments that have participated in What Works Cities since Bloomberg Philanthropies launched the initiative in 2015.
Over six years, What Works Cities participants have benefited from more than $84 million in training, coaching, and technical assistance to enhance their use of data and evidence in decision making.
Bloomberg Philanthropies and its What Works Cities partners – Results for America, the Government Performance Lab at the Harvard Kennedy School, the Centre for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University, and the Behavioural Insights Team – launched and supported the certification programme to support US cities in using data to improve services, create operational efficiencies, and engage residents.