While many in Cincinnati City Manager Harry Black’s shoes would run the city by pocketbook alone, Black has taken to a different type of number — hard data.
Since leaving Baltimore in September 2014, Black pushed ahead with the support of the mayor and City Council to form the Office of Performance and Data Analytics. After only a month in the city’s lead role, Black had the office ready to evaluate public services and drive efficiencies through initiatives like the CincyStat program, which provides a wealth of current data on city services.
He again leaned on the creative use of technology to address roadway needs. Using tech-laden surveying vans to quantitatively measure repair needs throughout the city, the transportation department was able to improve evaluative accuracy and save the time and costs associated with having survey crews subjectively monitoring needs from the ground.
The city also partnered with the University of Chicago’s Data Science for Social Good program to help address urban blight using predictive analytics. By examining the factors associated with urban blight, city officials are hopeful they can anticipate blight and respond early as opposed to reacting after the fact.
Under Black’s leadership, Cincinnati also launched a comprehensive open data portal that connects constituents with crime, financial and other pertinent city information.
“Significant improvements like this do not happen without clear direction and buy-in from the executive level,” Black said. “Further, our workforce has been totally responsive, energized and excited about what we are doing, which is another critical ingredient we are grateful for.”