- Five new cities recently joined Bloomberg’s What Works Cities, a philanthropic organization tasked with improving local governments by enhancing the use of data. The cohort is now 85 cities strong with more than 27 million residents in 37 states.
- The new cities are Arlington, TX; Charleston, SC; Fort Collins, CO; Memphis, TN; and Sioux Falls, SD.
- The projects these cities are working on vary from improving open data resources in Arlington and Sioux Falls to using performance analytics in Charleston for housing affordability improvements.
What Works Cities launched in 2015 with the goal of providing technical assistance to 100 cities on a rolling basis through 2018. Cities that join get access to experts and help from places like the Sunlight Foundation, Harvard’s Kennedy School and John Hopkins University. The cities applying now are hearing about results in cities that joined earlier, according to Simone Brody, executive director of What Works Cities.
"They are still early adopters but are more mainstream in their practices," Brody said.
Opening data is an important first step that cities take when digitizing and using technology to improve quality of life for their residents. For What Works Cities, cities don’t have be very far into their smart city journey to apply. Often times, What Works Cities is hearing from new mayors wanting to try out new ideas.
"It’s much more about commitment and capacity to do the work," Brody said.
Earlier this year, the initiative launched What Works Cities Certification, the first national standard for data-driven governance. Similar to Energy Star or a LEED certification, the certification could provide a roadmap for cities instead of starting over from scratch for open data policies. Two hundred cities applied, with the first group and their rankings to be released later this year.