Bloomberg investing $42 million to open local data

"What Works Cities" initiative aims to help 100 municipal governments do more with their data.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is a big fan of data-driven government.  So much so that he's donating $42 million to help cities get better at it.

The "What Works Cities" initiative, announced April 20 by Bloomberg Philanthropies, is a program intended to help 100 mid-sized cities better use data and evidence.  Cities "have access to more data than ever – and they are increasingly using it to improve people's lives," Bloomberg said in a released statement.  "We'll help them build on their progress, and help even more cities take steps to put data to work."

According to the announcement, the "What Works Cities" initative "will provide mayors with robust technical assistance, expertise, and peer-to-peer learning opportunities that will help them enhance their use of data and evidence to improve services to solve problems for communities."  Both open data programs focused on citizen engagement and internal-facing data-driven management tools will be part of the portfolio.

More than 275 cities with populations between 100,000 and 1 million people have been invited to apply to the program.  Johns Hopkins University, Harvard University's Kennedy School, the Sunlight Foundation, Results for America and the Behavioral Insights Team are partnering with Bloomberg Philanthropies on the project.

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