The Bloomberg Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University has been chosen to lead City Data Alliance, a new initiative to help local leaders around the world marshal metrics to better serve their citizens.
Mayors from 22 cities in North, Central, and South America traveled to Baltimore this week to kick off their participation in the Bloomberg Philanthropies program. Their shared mission: to build on their already strong foundations to discover together what the next level of data-driven local government looks like.
"This group was hand-selected because they've already demonstrated they're committed to using data to drive impacts in their communities," says Beth Blauer, associate vice provost for Public Sector Innovation at Johns Hopkins University and a leader of the new program. "But the reality is that no city has fully integrated this practice across all of their work. The City Data Alliance will define the future together with these mayors who already have been pushing the field forward. The objective is not just to help cities, but to help the field demonstrate what having a comprehensive citywide data strategy means, and what it means to have a workforce that's able to deliver on it."
Over the past decade, city leaders have grown increasingly more sophisticated in their use of data to inform decisions, improve services, and deliver impact for residents—an evolution that was especially clear at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when data was used to spot outbreaks, target testing and vaccination campaigns, address inequalities, monitor hospital capacity, advocate for resources, tailor masking and lockdown policies, and communicate with the public.
Now, some of the cities around the world using data most effectively to serve their residents are ready to see how they can scale their efforts.
"These local governments are already leaders in using data to transform public services and deliver more for residents, especially those who've been left behind," says James Anderson, who leads Government Innovation at Bloomberg Philanthropies. "The COVID-19 pandemic revealed how central data is to government that works. The Bloomberg Philanthropies City Data Alliance will help these cities detect problems earlier, manage resources more effectively, and target resources to those who need them."
Through a $60 million Bloomberg Philanthropies investment, mayors from each city will receive executive education and expert coaching to build their leadership skills around using data. Afterward, senior staff from each city will get further training around a critical data capacity, such as performance management, procurement, evaluation, or data as a service. A total of 100 cities will join the City Data Alliance over the next two years.
"It's about creating a culture of data-driven decision making, so that it's not episodic in nature but just how cities do business," Blauer says. "The goal is to get to a place where cities are using data and evidence to know whether or not their investments are paying off, whether they're being smart about program development, service design, and all of the things data has the power to do. It's going to be a very exciting time because these mayors who are so accomplished will be the ones leading the way."
The 22 participating cities in the first cohort represent seven countries and include Baltimore; Baton Rouge, La.; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Charleston, S.C.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Detroit, Mich.; Fortaleza, Brazil; Guadalajara, Mexico; Kitchener, Canada; Montevideo, Uruguay; Regina, Canada; Renca, Chile; Rio de Janeiro; Riverside, Calif.; Rochester, Minn.; Rosario, Argentina; San Antonio, Texas; San Pedro Garza García, Mexico; Scottsdale, Ariz.; South Bend, Ind.; Tempe, Ariz.; Tulsa, Okla.