Mayors' initiative to harness data to improve government functions, constituent services

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The new effort, funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, has 22 members in the initial cohort and is expected to grow to 100 mayors during the next two years.

Twenty-two mayors from across the Americas have joined a new initiative to better understand how to harness data to improve government functions and better serve their constituents. 

Bloomberg Philanthropies recently launched a new program, City Data Alliance, to help municipal leaders leverage data to inform policy decisions, understand challenges, identify solutions and track progress, according to a recent announcement from Bloomberg Cities Network.

This week, the first cohort of mayors gathered in Baltimore to kick off the program, the announcement said. 

Made possible by a $60 million Bloomberg Philanthropies investment, the program is expected to grow to include 100 cities across North, Central and South America over the next two years, according to the announcement. 

Over the next six months, participating mayors will receive education and coaching to build leadership skills around using data. Then, senior staff from each city will be trained in a critical data capacity–such as performance management, management, procurement, evaluation or data as a service–and will apply what they learn to a top mayoral priority with support from an expert partner, according to Bloomberg Cities Network

“This group was hand-selected because they’ve already demonstrated they’re committed to using data to drive impacts in their communities,” Beth Blauer, associate vice provost for public sector innovation at Johns Hopkins University and a leader of the program, said in a statement. “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.”

G.T. Bynum, mayor of Tulsa, Oklahoma, is a member of the inaugural cohort. For the last four years, Tulsa has been incorporating data into its efforts to address racial disparities in areas like income and life expectancy. The strategy has resulted in quantifiable gains toward equality, the announcement said. 

“We are at an important inflection point in our development of the city of Tulsa's data capabilities,” Bynum said. “We have developed buy-in with our senior leadership team, with our department directors, and with the residents of Tulsa in the value of using data for our city government in making decisions and improving performance of city services.”

From the United States, participating cities include Baltimore; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Charleston, North Carolina; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Riverside, California; Rochester, Minnesota; San Antonio; Tempe and Scottsdale, Arizona; South Bend, Indiana; and Tulsa.

The application period for the next cohort will be open later this year. Learn more about the program here.

Molly Bolan is the assistant editor for Route Fifty

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