Bloomberg Philanthropies has added six new cities to its What Works Cities initiative, the organization’s $42 million program to help mayors and planners of midsize cities make the most of big data. They are Boston, Massachusetts; Charlotte, North Carolina; Little Rock, Arkansas; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Victorville, California.
What Works Cities now partners with 27 U.S. cities with populations between 100,000 and 1 million, and aims to help the cities boost open gov capabilities and streamline the use of data as it applies to effective policymaking.
Bloomberg Philanthropies today also released a study highlighting the data gap in city hall decision-making. The report found that although city leaders say they are committed to using data to address challenges such as affordable housing and equitable economic development, many lack the resources and expertise to turn data into solutions. Moreover, allowing the public access to that data is also a challenge. The report finds that while 72 percent of cities have invested in some technology that allows access, only 18 percent have streamlined regular releases of that data. (The survey accounted for cities visited by What Works Cities and applicants to the initiative — 40 percent of midsize U.S. cities.)
Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg says his data initiative could help close that gap. “Local leaders know that the unprecedented amount of data available today has the potential to help them to bring dramatic changes to their cities,” he said in a press release. “What Works Cities can help them fulfill that potential.”
Bloomberg also announced Monday that after researching entering the 2016 presidential race as an independent candidate, he has decided against a run, citing worries that his candidacy could lead to the election of Donald Trump or Sen. Ted Cruz.
Kelsey E. Thomas is a writer and editor based in the most upper-left corner of the country. She writes about urban policy, equitable development and the outdoors (but also about nearly everything else) with a focus on solutions-oriented journalism. She is a former associate editor and current contributing editor at Next City.