What Works Cities Silver Certification places Syracuse on elite list with big cities
Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh announced today that the City of Syracuse has achieved the 2021 What Works Cities (WWC) Certification, the national standard of excellence in data-driven city governance. The WWC Certification evaluates how well cities are managed by measuring the extent to which city leaders incorporate data and evidence in their decision-making. The classification is an upgrade from the 2020 Honor Roll Certification, recognizing the City’s progress as an “up and coming leader.”
The City achieved Certification at the Silver level, and is one of only 16 cities to be newly certified this year and one of only 40 cities to be certified since the program was launched in April 2017. What Works Cities is a national initiative launched by Bloomberg Philanthropies to help cities use data and evidence more effectively to tackle their most pressing challenges.
“America’s top performing cities use data to drive their decision-making. It leads to effective use of taxpayer resources and equitable service to residents. We’ve made data a top priority for our administration, so it is a great honor to achieve What Works Cities status,” said Mayor Walsh. “From responding to the pandemic to snow removal to addressing the digital divide, data has played a key role in how we have made major progress on challenges facing Syracuse. I’m proud of what our team has done and feel like we are just getting started. We’re going for gold next.”
What Works Cities Certification assesses cities based on their data-driven decision-making practices, such as whether they are using data to set goals and track progress, allocate funding, evaluate the effectiveness of programs, and achieve desired outcomes from contracts with outside vendors. The program also measures whether cities are publicly and transparently communicating about their use of data and evidence.
Over the past year, the City has demonstrated measurable progress on these foundational data practices. Some notable examples of the City’s use of data include:
- Improving the efficiency of the City’s snow removal and park services process
- Launching meal distribution sites to address the challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Using data to identify areas of need and setting up internet hotspots to bridge the digital divide
- Redesigning CityLine, the City’s service request management portal, to improve resident engagement and quality of service delivery
- Launching a smart streetlight network that collects data on performance and allows for better service and maintenance times
The 16 new cities that achieved Certification this year include four cities at the Gold level (Austin, TX; Chattanooga, TN; Detroit, MI; and Gilbert, AZ) and 12 cities at the Silver level: Baton Rouge, LA; Bellevue, WA; Fort Collins, CO; Glendale, AZ; Irving, TX; Little Rock, AR; Madison, WI; Minneapolis, MN; Norfolk, VA; Portland, OR; San Antonio, TX; and Syracuse, NY.
Additionally, three cities that had previously been certified advanced to the next level of Certification: Cambridge, MA (Gold); Memphis, TN (Gold); and Phoenix, AZ (Gold). Four cities renewed their Certification this year: South Bend, IN (Silver); San Jose, CA (Silver); Tempe, AZ (Gold); and Topeka, KS (Silver).
“City leaders are using data to understand and support the needs of residents like never before,” said Michele Jolin, CEO and Co-Founder of Results for America, the lead partner in the What Works Cities initiative. “Throughout the COVID crisis and a historic reckoning with racial injustice, mayors have relied on data to identify and narrow racial gaps, and to make smarter investments that increase opportunity for all their residents. These cities are testing new solutions and measuring what works, rebuilding trust in government by engaging with their residents, and using evidence and data to drive faster progress on their toughest challenges.”
Cities that have achieved Certification in previous years include: Arlington, TX (2020 Gold), Boston, MA (2020 Silver), Boulder, CO (2020 Silver), Cambridge, MA (2020 Silver), Charlotte, NC (2020 Silver), Cincinnati, OH (2020 Silver), Kansas City, MO (2020 Gold), Los Angeles, CA (2020 Platinum), Louisville, KY (2020 Platinum), Memphis, TN (2020 Silver), Mesa, AZ (2020 Silver), New Orleans, LA (2020 Silver), Philadelphia, PA (2020 Silver), Phoenix, AZ (2020 Silver), San Diego, CA (2020 Silver), San Francisco, CA (2020 Gold), San Jose, CA (2020 Silver), Scottsdale, AZ (2020 Silver), Seattle, WA (2020 Gold), South Bend, IN (2020 Silver), Topeka, KS (2020 Silver), Tulsa, OK (2020 Silver), and Washington, DC (2020 Gold).
Jennifer Park, founding director of What Works Cities Certification, shared, “Since Certification was first introduced, cities have made tremendous progress in their ability to build the data capacity and skills needed to drive their decision-making with data and evidence. This year, cities used data and evidence to guide their response to COVID, address budget shortfalls, reimagine public safety, advance equity, and much more. Data wasn’t just a valuable tool for city leaders – it was a necessity.”
What Works Cities Certification was developed by a team of experts from Results for America in close consultation with the What Works Cities Certification Standard Committee. To evaluate cities, these experts conducted a rigorous validation process of cities’ Certification assessments and participated in site visits to the highest-performing cities to determine the city’s Certification level.
The program has inspired a movement of cities that are doubling down on their commitment to building the most well-managed local governments possible and using Certification as a roadmap for doing so. More than 200 cities have completed a Certification assessment to have their practices benchmarked against the national standard. The assessment is the first step to receiving exclusive support from What Works Cities to continue building a more effective local government. To learn more about the program and how to participate, visit www.whatworkscities.bloomberg.org/certification/.