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Follow the Data Podcast Episode 16: The Innovative Mayor, Michael Hancock

The 16th episode of Follow the Data presents a conversation with Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and James Anderson, who leads Government Innovation at Bloomberg Philanthropies. Mayor Hancock is a native Denverite, serving his second term. He is known as a “mayor’s mayor,” surrounding himself with a talented team, and concentrating on efforts to make government more effective, to better serve its citizens.

At Bloomberg Philanthropies, we’ve been fortunate to work with Mayor Hancock and the City of Denver in a variety of ways. Denver was an early member of What Works Cities, our initiative committed to helping cities better manage data to improve people’s lives. Mayor Hancock is one of the first 40 mayors to participate in our collaboration with Harvard University to give mayors high-quality executive coaching and training that rivals what is available to their CEO peers in the business world.

Five ways U.S. cities are solving America’s biggest challenges

By Anne Emig, Bloomberg Philanthropies Government Innovation team

Thirty-five U.S. cities, from as large as Los Angeles, Calif., and as small as Ithaca, N.Y., are about to launch into an unprecedented experiment to solve some of our country’s biggest challenges. Each of these finalists—or “Champion Cities”—in the 2018 Mayors Challenge will spend the next six months testing and refining their big ideas for tackling everything from opioid addiction to climate change. And while only five cities will win prizes later this year—including one $5 million prize and four $1 million prizes—all will walk away winners, and that much closer to solving some of our cities’ toughest concerns.

The Mayors Challenge: Unleashing the Power of Public Prototyping

By James Anderson, Bloomberg Philanthropies Government Innovation team

Just about every successful business prototypes new solutions before bringing them to market. Amazon, Apple, Walmart, CVS Health, Ford, and Tesla—to name just a few—have successfully launched new products or entered new markets by tapping this tried-and-true product development technique.

Yet it’s a concept that is virtually unknown within the public sector, where the stakes for innovation are highest. Just ask any police chief. Actual lives depend on cities’ ability to constantly innovate new and better approaches.

Public Art Challenge pushes cities to see art as a tool for change

By Anita Contini, Bloomberg Philanthropies Arts Team

When Spartanburg, S.C., embarked on an ambitious public art project a few years ago, it was the police department that took the lead. And while police aren’t typically the first officials people turn to for matters of artistic expression, in this case the department was a perfect fit.

That’s because city leaders were looking for a way art could help strengthen ties between law enforcement and the community. For more than a year, officers and light artist Erwin Redl spent time with people from neighborhoods across Spartanburg. Together they dreamed up nine separate installations, from lighting up old smokestacks to projecting videos of community residents on the side of a vacant public housing complex. Along the way, officers and local leaders built a shared sense of purpose.

Data-driven women to watch

By Beth Blauer, Executive Director and Founder of GovEx at Johns Hopkins University, and Simone Brody, Executive Director of What Works Cities

One of the biggest misconceptions about the field of data science is that it’s all about the numbers. But, as anybody in our business will attest, statistics and spreadsheets don’t mean a whole lot if you don’t also understand the people, the problems, and the promise they represent.

Our work has never been “all about the numbers.” It is, however, increasingly about the number — and the diversity — of life experiences our teams bring to the table that deliver big and important impact in cities. Currently, women represent only 25 percent of the data scientists in the public and private sectors. But as two women who lead What Works Cities — Michael Bloomberg’s investment to help 100 U.S. cities expand upon the data and evidence work he pioneered in New York City Hall — we can tell you that there is a growing number of women at the table.

Follow the Data Podcast Episode 15: The Innovative Mayor, Jan Vapaavuori

The 15th episode of Follow the Data presents a conversation with Helsinki Mayor Jan Vapaavuori and James Anderson, who leads Government Innovation at Bloomberg Philanthropies. Mayor Vapaavuori is a former member of the Helsinki City Council and served in Finland’s Parliament for more than a decade.

The Mayor took office last June during Bloomberg Philanthropies’ work with Helsinki as part of an effort to help cities better determine the future of autonomous vehicles and harness the technology to address urban challenges. He is the first person to lead the city in the wake of a significant set of reforms to Helsinki’s organizational structure. Additionally, he has an ambitious goal: to make Helsinki the world’s “most functional city.”

The mayor behind Kansas City’s data revolution

By Sly James, Mayor of Kansas City, Missouri 

When I became Mayor of Kansas City in 2011, residents were eager to see local government become more efficient, accountable, and responsive to their needs. They didn’t want rhetoric. They wanted facts. And they deserved to see progress.

That’s why we started KCStat that December. It’s a data-driven strategy for improving city services. Each month, City Manager Troy Schulte and I hold a meeting during which staff in charge of different services—from public safety to economic development to transportation— present metrics on what’s going well and what’s not going so well. We ask tough questions, demand good answers, and expect to see progress by the next meeting.

Insights from Indonesia: Protecting Our Coral Reefs

By Antha Williams, Head of Environmental Programs, Bloomberg Philanthropies

Our oceans program, like all of our work at Bloomberg Philanthropies, aims to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. So it’s good news that the United Nations International Coral Reef Initiative has declared 2018 the International Year of the Reef. Coral reefs are home to one in every four fish in the ocean, and are a critical backbone of ocean ecosystems. Unfortunately, climate change threatens to destroy 90 percent of reefs in the next three decades. And as the demand for fish continues to grow, overfishing and destructive practices, like bottom-trawling and using bombs and cyanide for fishing, are damaging coral reefs.

Follow the Data Podcast Episode 14: Coal: Why a 19th Century Innovation is Not Working in a 21st Century World

This year’s final episode of Follow the Data revisits Bloomberg Philanthropies first feature documentary, From the Ashes, directed by Michael Bonfiglio and distributed by National Geographic. Inspired by Mike Bloomberg and Bloomberg Philanthropies’ commitment to the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, the film was developed to bring greater attention to the impact of the coal industry in the United States.

Katherine Oliver speaks to two clean economy pioneers featured in the film: Mayor Dale Ross of Georgetown, Texas, and Brandon Dennison, Founder of Coalfield Development Corporation, based in West Virginia.

Our Favorite Gifts This Holiday Season

The Bloomberg Philanthropies holiday gift guide, chosen by our program teams.

It’s time to take a fun look back at the past year. In 2016, we shared a playlist inspired by some of our work, and in 2015 we recapped our favorite Instagram photos. This time, we wanted to share ideas you can use. If you’re searching for a gift that makes the world a better place, look no further.