City of San Antonio Nationally Recognized for Data Driven Approach to Providing and Enhancing City Services
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CONTACT: Laura Mayes, (210) 207-1337
laura.mayes@sanantonio.gov

SAN ANTONIO (July 15, 2021) - Today, Bloomberg Philanthropies' What Works Cities program announced that the City of San Antonio was awarded a Silver Level Certification, making it one of the top data-driven cities in the nation. What Works Cities Certification evaluates how well cities are managed by measuring the extent to which city leaders incorporate data and evidence in their decision-making.

San Antonio 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.
"During the pandemic, using data to inform decision-making was more important than ever for cities – it helped them respond directly to the needs of their residents and deliver essential services as the situation on the ground constantly changed," said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and the 108th mayor of New York City. "By putting data at the center of their COVID-19 response efforts, these cities saved lives and helped residents recover – and they now have a chance to come out of this crisis stronger, more resilient, and better prepared for the next one."

"I am proud to see San Antonio be nationally recognized by What Works Cities for our investment in data and transparency as part of our decision-making processes across the city," said Mayor Ron Nirenberg. "Carefully studying data not only enhances the services we offer, but also ensures that services are delivered in an equitable way."

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.

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"One of my goals as City Manager has been to build a data-driven culture throughout the organization to advance equity and improve service delivery," said City Manager Erik Walsh. "I am proud to see these efforts recognized by Bloomberg's What Works Cities initiative. I'd like to commend the Office of Innovation, Information Technology Services Department and the entire organization for enhancing the way we collect and use data in the City."

Over the past year, the City of San Antonio has demonstrated measurable progress on these foundational data practices. Some notable examples of the City's use of data include:
  • The City of San Antonio established a COVID-19 dashboard (covid19.sanantonio.gov) and data hub to be transparent, open and responsive to the community. The COVID-19 open data page consists of data, maps, and information related to COVID-19 in the local area. Residents can browse and download open data. In addition, the City of San Antonio provided a "how to" guide in the form of a video on social media, that provides residents with information on how to access, download and use data from the hub, as well as how to interpret CoVID-19 data on the public dashboards. This video can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HI2R8QY70FE
  • The City's Innovation Academy, which trains participants in Data Analytics, along with Process Redesign, and User-Centered Design. This combination of training enables city staff to develop data-driven solutions that focus on improved operations for our residents.
  • The City's Budget Equity tool and SASpeakUp campaign on the budget outreach effort, considers racial and economic equity in the budget making process by using data and evidence to enhance the decision-making process and ensure services reach areas of need in the community.

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).

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"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 https://whatworkscities.bloomberg.org/certification/.

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