- Bloomberg Philanthropies' What Works Cities (WWC), a national initiative to help cities better use data and engage citizens, has reached a goal of partnering with 100 municipal governments.
- The milestone was reached with the addition of five cities — Long Beach, CA; Columbia, SC, Grand Rapids, MI, Irving, TX, and Honolulu — which were announced on Wednesday. The program now represents more than 31 million residents across 39 states, with cumulative annual budgets exceeding $104 billion.
- WWC will now focus on advancing its certification program, which was announced last year to recognize local governments "that are leading the nation in the use of data and evidence."
When What Works Cities launched in 2015, it began as a cohort of only eight cities — Seattle; New Orleans; Louisville, KY; Chattanooga, TN; Jackson, MS; Kansas City, MO; Tulsa, OK; and Mesa, AZ — with a goal of eventually reaching 100.
Going from 8 cities to 100 went by like ...— What Works Cities (@WhatWorksCities) January 17, 2018
A special shoutout to our very first group of cities that joined us in 2015!@Chattanooga_gov@wearejacksonms@KCMO@louisvillekygov@MesaAzgov@VisitNewOrleans@CityofSeattle@cityoftulsagov pic.twitter.com/cI0xSyuXVK
Though, as noted by Route Fifty, it isn't an easy process for cities to join WWC. Membership consideration has been dependent on high-level commitment from mayors and other government leaders to advance data-driven initiatives, and the opportunity to work in a network with such cumulative expertise has made the process even more competitive.
In a 2017 interview with Smart Cities Dive, WWC Executive Director Simone Brody explained that many city leaders are "thrilled" to be given the opportunity. "That's, I think, been the biggest need, is helping these very talented folks in city government get the skills to just do their jobs better and get better outcomes for their community," she said. She went on to explain that some cities are currently swimming in untapped data, unsure how to approach the overwhelming influx of information, and helping these cities understand their goals and long-term strategies for data analysis has been the backbone of the WWC initiative.
Brody also touched on the WWC certification program, which is intended to award municipalities with more than 30,000 residents with silver-, gold- and platinum-level ratings for "excelling in the application of data-driven governance strategies and techniques," as reported by Route Fifty. At the time of the interview, Brody said WWC received interest from 200 municipalities, though that number has increased and will continue to grow as the certification process is refined.