What Works Cities

Today, we are excited to announce a new partnership with What Works Cities, a Bloomberg Philanthropies initiative that aims to help cities use data to improve operations.

Mayor Stephanie Miner announcing the City of Syracuse's new partnership with What Works Cities.

Mayor Stephanie Miner announcing the City of Syracuse's new partnership with What Works Cities.

We’ve written several times about the ways the Innovation Team along with other City departments are using data to make decisions. This partnership will accelerate that process in a couple of ways.

First, through this partnership, the City has committed that within 90 days, specific data will be released to the public in new ways for Syracuse. Making data open is important for a variety of reasons.

  • In many cases, it is your right to see the data. Open data means that data is released proactively.

  • If data is released to the public, it can also help break down data silos that exist in different city departments because staff can have easy access to data that may not have been easily available before.

  • There is the potential for new insights to be found from the data because students, researchers, and the public have easy access to the data and can analyze it themselves.

  • This open data initiative will be a pilot, so don’t expect to see every piece of data the City has access to immediately. We want to do this right. We want to make sure nothing sensitive is released. We want to make sure the data that is being released is useful.

The second piece of this partnership includes piloting a performance management program. Performance management means that there are outcomes set for particular programs and initiatives, and we measure, track, and evaluate the program based on how outcomes are being met. When the outcomes are not being met, we figure out how to change. When the outcomes are met, we celebrate.

Performance management exists in one form through the stock take meetings we hold with infrastructure departments each month so we can track some of the infrastructure initiatives we put in place last year. Going forward, we’ll look to expand and improve these meetings so they can be more effective.

We are lucky to be partnering with experts in the field to help us with this work. The Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University and the Sunlight Foundation will provide technical expertise. We will also have access to practitioners throughout the country who have done this work already. Syracuse is one of 55 cities to be a part of this group, and we are eager to learn, and then show off our progress.

We believe that through this partnership with What Works Cities, we will improve internal operations, and make government work better and more efficiently for the City of Syracuse. Please let us know your thoughts in the comments – we hope that this partnership can serve as a way to connect with the community.