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AZ Tech Beat | December 11, 2019

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Mesa chosen for “What Works Cities” Initiative

Mesa chosen for “What Works Cities” Initiative
Chloe Nordquist

Eight cities have been announced as winners in a $42 million open data contest created by ex-NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg. The City of Mesa made the winner’s circle.

The “What Works Cities” Initiative’s goal is to help city halls use data more effectively through a three-year program. The initiative will support 100 mid-sized U.S. cities in total.

“What we got from the Bloomberg grant is experts in their fields to give us personalized assistance on site, remotely, through documentation, and just helping us along in this process,” City of Mesa Chief Innovation Officer Alex Deshuk said. “This will take us to the next level and make us a ‘What Works City’.”

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The program has four main parts, which are outlined by the initiative:

  • Create sustainable open data programs and policies that promote engagement and transparency.
  • Incorporate data into decision making.
  • Conduct evaluations that allow cities to improve programs.
  • Focus funding on approaches that deliver results.

The City of Mesa aims to make city operations data available online. Works Cities will assist in this process by providing technical assistance and expertise. The city will be looking at quality of life, street conditions, traffic, and more.

“We are going to quantify those things and make goals and measure outcomes along the way and report that to citizens,” Deshuk said. “The citizens will be able to see the progress we make in our open data portal.”

READ: Data mining platform Expanded.IO releases Beta, raises $2.5M

Other cities in the first batch of winners includes Jackson, Mississippi; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Seattle; New Orleans; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Louisville, Kentucky; and Kansas City, Missouri.

“While cities are working to meet new challenges with limited resources, they have access to more data than ever – and they are increasingly using it to improve people’s lives,” Michael Bloomberg said in a statement. “We’ll help them build on their progress, and help even more cities take steps to put data to work.”

The participating cities will be reviewed by their use of data and evidence in decision making in order to analyze how the program helps them advance.

Cities with populations between 100,000 and one million are encouraged to apply to be one of the 100 cities.

The initiative is the latest from Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Government Innovation Portfolio. Bloomberg Philanthropies, Bloomberg’s charitable activities arm, distributed $462 million in 2014.

For more news coverage, click here.

Photo courtesy of the City of Mesa