- Johns Hopkins University announced it has launched the Centers for Civic Impact to help the public sector use data better to understand and improve citizens' lives.
- Training offered through the center will help public sector employees build technological skills, more effectively deliver services, fill knowledge gaps left by dwindling public sector resources and learn practical applications for academic research in policy areas including sustainability, transportation and economic equality.
- The Centers for Civic Impact will build on data work from the Center for Government Excellence (GovEx); last year Johns Hopkins launched a GovEx training center for government employees around the world.
The private sector tends to lead the public sector in innovation and technological advances. The public sector often lacks the funding and resources to innovate, plus leaders and employees can be wary of testing emerging programs and initiatives with taxpayers' money. Therefore, in some cases, the public sector can end up behind when advanced technologies become widely adopted.
The new Centers for Civic Impact is a way to provide the public sector with the resources it may lack in this increasingly important area. Data use is rising rapidly in cities and staff should be adequately trained in how to best use it. The public benefits from such training because city employees can find new areas in which to provide or improve services with data-driven programs.
In addition to sustainability, transportation and economic equality, some of the key areas where Johns Hopkins says the Centers for Civic Impact could have an influence are economic development and community health. For example, learning how to better use community data could increase underserved populations' access to health clinics and transportation.
"[W]e know from experience that change is more effective when it is based on data and evidence,” executive director Beth Blauer said in a statement.