Sunlight kicks off open data efforts in first round of What Works Cities

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In April, we told you about our involvement in the What Works Cities Initiative, a three-year, nationwide program to accelerate the use of data and evidence in cities across the U.S. funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies. The program leverages the expertise of five different data-focused organizations to bring guidance and best practices to mid-sized cities. Today, Sunlight is thrilled to be able to tell our readers more about the first round of cities receiving technical support from Sunlight and our team of partners.

Mayors and chief executives in eight cities have committed to improving services, informing local decision-making and engaging citizens through the use of data and evidence. Sunlight is proud to be working with six of these cities — Mesa, Ariz., Jackson, Miss., Seattle, Wash., Kansas City, Mo., Tulsa, Okla., and New Orleans, La. — to help implement or improve open data policies that will lay the groundwork for more transparency and accountability at the local level.

Some cities, such as Mesa and Jackson, will be making their first foray into the world of open data, enacting new policies and opening up datasets for the first time. Others, including Seattle, Kansas City, Tulsa and New Orleans, are working to strengthen existing open data practices. No matter what level of expertise cities have, Sunlight is excited to be working to advance open data practices at all levels.

“Sunlight is thrilled to work with this first round of cities to help them think more deeply about how they can achieve the goals they set for themselves through the use of open data,” said Chris Gates, president of the Sunlight Foundation. “This initiative presents an incredible opportunity to help improve the way that cities across the country conduct business. We can’t wait to show how decisions made with improved data, transparency and public input can improve lives.”

Each participating city has proactively sought support to advance the use of data, and the cities themselves will be leading these efforts. Sunlight and other world-class partners will provide support and resources to help these cities achieve their goals. Specific support for open data will include assessing the current use of data within city halls, introducing the concept of open data and proactive disclosure to stakeholders, and helping cities to craft or improve meaningful and sustainable open data policies.

More broadly, this initiative will allow Sunlight to expand upon our existing work to advance open data policies and practices at the local level.

Stay tuned for details about our first visit to a city committed to What Works!