Three U.S. cities achieve Platinum, highest possible Certification level
74 cities have now achieved What Works Cities Certification distinction since the program’s launch in 2017
New York, NY – Results for America today announced 12 new cities in the United States and Latin America have been awarded the Bloomberg Philanthropies What Works Cities Certification for establishing exceptional data capabilities to inform policy decisions, allocate funding, improve services, evaluate program effectiveness, and engage residents. Strengthened in 2022 to include new equity requirements, What Works Cities Certification continues to set a standard of excellence for data-informed local government. The standard reflects the practices, policies, and resources municipal governments must have in place in order to effectively harness data for better decision-making. With today’s announcement, 74 cities have achieved the What Works Cities Certification distinction and more than 160 cities have submitted applications since 2017.
Representing a growing movement of cities and leaders across the Americas investing in data and evidence, the 12 new Certified What Works Cities are: Alexandria, VA; New York City, NY; Port St. Lucie, FL; Rochester, MN; and Rock Hill, SC from the U.S. and Bogotá, Colombia; Luján de Cuyo, Argentina; Medellín, Colombia; Monterrey, Mexico; Recife, Brazil; Rionegro, Colombia; and Tres de Febrero, Argentina from Latin America. Phoenix and Tempe moved up to Platinum – the highest recognition possible – alongside New York City, which certified at this level for the first time.
“We are excited to welcome these 12 newly Certified cities which have a collective focus on how data can be used to build stronger communities,” said Rochelle Haynes, Managing Director of What Works Cities Certification. “These cities understand that local government data use is a pre-condition to solving problems, assessing what is working, and improving how their city halls do business – and they are investing their resources accordingly.”
“The Bloomberg Philanthropies What Works Cities Certification program represents a fast-growing community of policymakers raising the bar on what is possible for local government when it leverages data to address major challenges and opportunities facing the city,” said James Anderson, who leads the Government Innovation program at Bloomberg Philanthropies. “More than 160 cities across the Americas are seeking the What Works Cities Certification seal of approval because city halls – like any other effective modern organization – must be leveraging data to make better decisions. The program provides local governments with that North Star, and we are glad to see its reach continue to grow.”
The What Works Cities Certification Standard measures a city’s use of data based on 43 criteria. A city that achieves 51–67 percent of the 43 criteria is recognized at the Silver level of Certification, 68–84 percent is required to achieve Gold, and 85 percent or more is required to reach Platinum. Highlights of how newly Certified cities are using data and evidence include:
- Phoenix, Arizona (Platinum) instituted data governance across departments and continuous community engagement to inform key policies, including the City’s climate action plan, contributing to the average Phoenix resident using approximately 29 percent less water today than the average resident in 1990.
- Tempe, Arizona (Platinum) designed a data management strategy that introduced a new, inclusive demographic standard that is core to the City’s Vision Zero policy. Vision Zero is an evidence-based traffic safety plan—which includes a statistical analysis of a higher propensity for collisions—to reduce the number of fatalities and serious injuries due to crashes to zero. Tempe was also the first city in Arizona to pass a policy mandating the ethical, equitable use of artificial intelligence technologies in city government, which stems from its work as part of the Bloomberg Philanthropies City Data Alliance.
- New York City, New York (Platinum) bolstered requirements for capital project requests to include projected emissions data, which are now being met by 100 percent of city agencies as part of its new municipal climate budget. The City also launched advanced artificial intelligence policy initiatives to regulate biases and discrimination, including for hiring and promotion decisions.
- Bogotá, Colombia (Gold) prioritized demographic data and resident feedback to build 21 Care Blocks, community centers that provide services to more than 12,000 female caretakers and are currently helping over 550 of these women achieve their high school diploma. This is a Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge-winning intervention.
- Recife, Brazil (Gold) drove a 15 percent drop in violence over four years in an underserved neighborhood through an evidence-based community center program.
- Alexandria, Virginia (Silver) created a 149-person eviction task force using American Rescue Plan data to connect residents directly with resources to navigate the eviction process, pro-bono legal aid, and short-term rental assistance.
- Luján de Cuyo, Argentina (Silver) launched a data-informed program that helped identify and relocate over 700 families in a high-risk flood zone to new and improved housing.
- Medellín, Colombia (Silver) transformed its data practices in 2020, which led to the launch of new programs to reduce teen pregnancy, which has dropped by 54 percent from 2020 to 2023, while increasing access to post-secondary education.
- Monterrey, Mexico (Silver) achieved a 400 percent increase in the number of citizens who voted in its 2023 participatory budgeting process over 2022. This success was a result of its strategy to promote public engagement and use technology to achieve a more transparent government.
- Port St. Lucie, Florida (Silver) is building 35 miles of new sidewalks after a survey said fixing sidewalks was residents’ top priority.
- Rionegro, Colombia (Silver) reduced unemployment from 10 percent to 7.5 percent over the course of one year by boosting the data practices in its public unemployment office.
- Rochester, Minnesota (Silver) launched a data-driven workforce development program to increase the number of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) females in the construction industry and close the gap on income inequities. This effort is also supported by the Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge program.
- Rock Hill, South Carolina (Silver) used data to create a successful neighborhood revitalization program that led to increased resident satisfaction and improved public safety outcomes.
- Tres de Febrero, Argentina (Silver) reduced emergency response time from an average of 60 minutes to an average of 10 minutes to improve health outcomes for residents.
In 2022, What Works Cities Certification released updated criteria for cities to achieve recognition for excellence in using data to improve local government operations and policies. The new criteria also includes the practice of disaggregating data to avoid algorithmic bias. Additionally, Certification now requires cities to show that they meet an internationally recognized standard on at least one of three outcomes: air pollution, the percentage of households with high-speed broadband subscriptions, or a high-priority outcome the city chooses that aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs).
In addition to the 12 newly Certified cities, six currently Certified cities achieved a higher Certification level including Phoenix and Tempe, Arizona at the Platinum Certification level; and Boston, Massachusetts; Mesa, Arizona; Norfolk, Virginia; and San Jose, California at the Gold Certification level. What Works Cities also re-Certified four cities that previously achieved Certification: Chattanooga, Tennessee and San Francisco, California at the Gold Certification level and Athens-Clarke County, Georgia and Madison, Wisconsin at the Silver Certification level.
The What Works Cities Certification program, launched in 2017 by Bloomberg Philanthropies and led by Results for America, is the international standard of data excellence in city governance. The program is open to any city in North, Central or South America with a population of 30,000 or more.
To learn more about the What Works Cities Certification or to take the Assessment, visit whatworkscities.org.
About What Works Cities Certification:
The What Works Cities Certification program, launched in 2017 by Bloomberg Philanthropies and led by Results for America, is the first-of-its-kind standard of excellence for data-informed, well-managed local government. What Works Cities Certification recognizes and celebrates local governments for their exceptional use of data to inform policy decisions, allocate funding, improve services, evaluate the effectiveness of programs, and engage residents.
About Results for America:
Results for America is helping decision-makers at all levels of government harness evidence and data to make progress on our greatest challenges. Our mission is to make investing in what works the “new normal,” so that when policymakers make decisions, they start by seeking the best evidence and data available, then use what they find to get better results. For more information, visit results4america.org.
About Bloomberg Philanthropies:
Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in 700 cities and 150 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on creating lasting change in five key areas: the Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s giving, including his foundation, corporate, and personal philanthropy as well as Bloomberg Associates, a philanthropic consultancy that advises cities around the world. In 2023, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $3 billion. For more information, please visit bloomberg.org, sign up for our newsletter, or follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, Threads, Facebook, and X.