Bloomberg Philanthropies has recognized five new cities in the United States for establishing exceptional data capabilities to inform policy decisions, allocate funding, improve services, evaluate program effectiveness, and engage residents.

The cities will receive the Bloomberg Philanthropies What Works Cities Certification, which according to Bloomberg Philanthropies sets “a standard of excellence for data-informed local government.” The standard reflects the practices, policies, and resources municipal governments must have in place to effectively harness data for better decision-making.

The five U.S. cities are Alexandria, Virginia; New York City, New York; Port St. Lucie, Florida; Rochester, Minnesota; and Rock Hill, South Carolina. Additionally, Phoenix, Arizona, and Tempe, Arizona, moved up to Platinum, the highest recognition possible, alongside New York City which Certified at this level for the first time. Bloomberg Philanthropies also recognized seven other cities in Latin America.

“We are excited to welcome these 12 newly Certified cities which have a collective focus on how data can be used to build stronger communities,” said Rochelle Haynes, managing director of What Works Cities Certification. “These cities understand that local government data use is a pre-condition to solving problems, assessing what is working, and improving how their city halls do business – and they are investing their resources accordingly.”

The What Works Cities Certification Standard measures a city’s use of data based on 43 criteria. A city that achieves 51–67 percent of the 43 criteria is recognized at the Silver level of Certification, 68–84 percent is required to achieve Gold, and 85 percent or more is required to reach Platinum.

“The Bloomberg Philanthropies What Works Cities Certification program represents a fast-growing community of policymakers raising the bar on what is possible for local government when it leverages data to address major challenges and opportunities facing the city,” said James Anderson, who leads the Government Innovation program at Bloomberg Philanthropies. “More than 160 cities across the Americas are seeking the What Works Cities Certification seal of approval because city halls – like any other effective modern organization – must be leveraging data to make better decisions. The program provides local governments with that North Star – and we are glad to see its reach continue to grow.”

In a press release, Bloomberg Philanthropies highlighted how each newly Certified city is using data and evidence:

  • Alexandria, Virginia created a 149-person eviction task force using American Rescue Plan dollars to connect residents directly with resources to navigate the eviction process, pro-bono legal aid, and short-term rental assistance.
  • Port St. Lucie, Florida is building 35 miles of new sidewalks after a survey said fixing sidewalks was residents’ top priority.
  • Rochester, Minnesota launched a data-driven workforce development program to increase the number of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) females in the construction industry and close the gap on income inequities. This effort is also supported by the Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge program.
  • Rock Hill, South Carolina used data to create a successful neighborhood revitalization program that led to increased resident satisfaction and improved public safety outcomes.
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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs