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The City of Evanston has been named one of 10 new cities to have achieved What Works Cities Certification, which recognizes cities for their exceptional use of data to guide decision-making and improve residents’ lives. Evanston, which achieved silver level certification, is the first city in the country with a population under 100,000 to be recognized as part of the program.
What Works Cities Certification, the national standard of excellence in data-driven city governance, evaluates how well cities are managed by measuring the extent to which city leaders incorporate data and evidence in their decision-making. As of December 2021, only 50 cities have achieved certification.
“Evanston is proud to be recognized as one of the first 50 cities in the nation – and the first with a population under 100,000 – to achieve What Works Cities certification,” said Mayor Daniel Biss. “This recognition is a testament to our City’s commitment to use data to deliver services more effectively, equitably and transparently. We look forward to building on this achievement moving forward to improve the lives of our residents.”
“The most effective mayors use data to define problems and craft bold new solutions, and this milestone of 50 certified cities highlights the critical progress local governments are leading across the country,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies and former mayor of New York City. “By building a culture of data-driven decision-making, these cities will be more resilient and better equipped to fight climate change, protect public health, increase economic mobility, and much more.”
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 and evaluate the effectiveness of programs and services. The program also measures whether cities are publicly and transparently communicating about their use of data and evidence.
Notable examples of Evanston’s use of data include:
- Using participant surveys and attendance tracking to guide programming for the My City, Your City, Our City initiative. Launched in the summer of 2021, the program provides safe, fun, year-round recreation and enrichment activities for Evanston youth and young adults. Based on participant feedback and attendance, the program was expanded to offer financial literacy seminars, “know your rights” workshops, cooking classes, ice skating and more.
- Creating interactive COVID-19 case data and COVID-19 vaccination data dashboards to provide community members with important public health metrics during the pandemic.
- Launching an Evanston Police Department Transparency Hub to increase community trust and transparency in policing.
“Using data to guide city decisions not only increases efficiency and lowers costs, it maximizes the impact of programs and services that our residents depend on,” said Administrative Services Director and Chief Information Officer Luke Stowe. “I would like to thank former ICMA Management Fellow Shenicka Hohenkirk and former Digital Services Specialist Hillary Beata for spearheading the city’s certification, as well as the many city staff members who use data each and every day to improve performance, increase transparency and better serve our community.”
The other nine cities achieving Certification at the Silver level this fall were Chicago; Durham, NC; Rochester and Buffalo, NY; Salinas and Long Beach, Calif.; Miami; Denver; and Baltimore. View all cities that have achieved certification.
Certification was developed by a team of experts from Results for America in close consultation with the What Works Cities Certification Standard Committee and with support from the other What Works Cities partners: The Government Performance Lab at the Harvard Kennedy School, The Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University and The Behavioral Insights Team. Over 200 cities have completed a Certification assessment, benchmarking their practices against the national standard. To learn more about the program and how to participate, visit https://whatworkscities.bloomberg.org/certification/.
About What Works Cities:
What Work Cities, a Bloomberg Philanthropies initiative, helps cities use data and evidence to tackle their most pressing challenges and improve residents’ lives. The initiative’s What Works Cities Certification program is the first-of-its-kind national standard of excellence in city governance that evaluates how well cities are managed and whether cities have the right people, processes and policies in place to put data and evidence at the center of decision-making. Through the initiative’s expert partners, cities around the country are receiving support, guidance and resources to succeed. For more information, visit whatworkscities.org.