How Cities are Using Data to Tackle Key Challenges

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Connecting state and local government leaders

More than 50% of cities surveyed in a recent report say data analytics are enabling them to deliver services and expand programs more efficiently, effectively and equitably.

Cities are using data more effectively to make operational, programmatic and policy decisions, and residents are reaping benefits—from improved services to greater visibility into how their local governments work, according to a report from the Monitor Institute by Deloitte.

Deloitte analyzed localities in the What Works Cities community, which is a national network for data-driven localities. The cities reported using data to address a wide range of critical challenges in public safety, health and human services, housing and homelessness, equity and workforce development.

More than 50% of the cities surveyed said that since 2015, they have boosted their use of data to make budget decisions, award city contracts and shift procurement dollars, as well as deliver services more efficiently, effectively and equitably.Effective use of data, the report says, led these localities to reduce emergency response times, add more public transit options, provide fiscal support for vulnerable populations, improve access to broadband, increase housing stability, boost opportunities for small businesses, and expand access to quality education for low-income families.

Deloitte looked at four data practices and found that cities’:

  • Monitoring and analyzing their progress toward key goals grew from 30% to 75%.
  • Engaging with residents on a goal and communicating progress rose from 19% to 70%.
  • Using a platform and process to release data jumped from 18% to 67%.
  • Modifying existing programs based on data analytics climbed from 28% to 61%.

These improvements produced better outcomes, lifted residents’ trust in government, and reflected the broader culture shift underway in city governments across the country, the report says. 

Furthermore, 70% of localities surveyed said they are systematically using data-informed decision-making to respond to the ongoing coronavirus crisis, which the report says illustrates the importance of “building foundational data skills and practices that enable a city to respond quickly in the face of disaster.” 

In the end, the report recommends that cities:

  1. Focus on the use of data to foster trust from residents.
  2. Advance a bottom-up approach to learn from and engage with residents.
  3. Embed equity in the use of data and leverage it to drive equity.
  4. Create standards of excellence and key metrics for specific services.
  5. Collaborate and share data with states, counties and other cities. 

However, the report notes that the lack of a shared data vision among states and localities is a “significant challenge” for cities trying to impact areas that do not cleanly fall under a single jurisdiction, particularly in health and education.

For more information about the report click here.

Jean Dimeo is managing editor of Route Fifty.

NEXT STORY: Successfully Implementing Cloud Technology in State and Local Government

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