This story was originally published on Data-Smart City Solutions.
Last week, Bloomberg Philanthropies released a brief on The City Hall Data Gap, which analyzed the applications to the What Works Cities program and concluded that “a wide gap exists between cities’ desire and their ability to implement data- and evidence-based practices.” There are still significant barriers to the use of data in cities: applicants cited factors including lack of staff and revenue resources, limited knowledge and expertise in this area, lack of trust in the data currently generated by city systems, and old and incompatible systems for data collection and analysis.
I have been working for decades to promote innovation in government. In my time serving in city government as well as my work at Harvard Kennedy School, I have observed these and more obstacles -- as well as heroic efforts to overcome them. The successes we have seen from leading cities in using data to improve the lives of their residents prove that data efforts are not only possible, but imperative. These inspiring stories, from New York City preventing fire deaths to Chicago avoiding foodborne illness, have reanimated the conversation about effective government. The value proposition of using data to make government work better has never been clearer: 40 percent of eligible midsized cities applied within six weeks of the What Works Cities program launch. We have reached a critical moment in the field, where data-driven government is now a focus for cities of all sizes and budgets.
As more cities embark on the path to data-driven governance, they should keep the following keys to success in mind:
With these tactics, cities can help create value for their residents and unlock the potential of responsive governance through the informed use of data and evidence.