We are thrilled to officially announce the addition of another 13 cities as part of the next cohort participating in the What Works Cities initiative. With today’s announcement, the program’s total reach has more than doubled and now includes 21 cities in 15 states, bringing us closer to the ambitious goal of working with 100 cities over the next three years.
As readers may recall, What Works Cities is a nationwide program leveraging the expertise of five leading organizations to bring technical support to mid-sized cities committed to improving the lives of residents through the use of data and evidence. Sunlight is proud to work as part of the What Works Cities team of partners to play the crucial role of helping cities craft meaningful and sustainable open data policies.
Back in August, Sunlight had just begun work in the cities of Jackson, Miss.; Kansas City, Mo.; Mesa, Ariz.; New Orleans; Seattle; and Tulsa, Okla. Today, these six cities are joined by nine more: Anchorage, Alaska; Bellevue, Wash.; Denver; Independence, Mo.; Las Vegas; San Jose; St. Paul, Minn.; Tacoma, Wash.; and Waco, Texas.
This kind of scale is a new and exciting prospect for Sunlight as it represents a significant opportunity — not only to for the advancement of open data policy and practice in these individual city halls, but for Sunlight to help build a nationwide culture of transparency and accountability in local governments.
“At the Sunlight Foundation, we believe making data publicly accessible online will be transformative for local governments, allowing for greater engagement and greater effectiveness of service,” said Sunlight Foundation President Chris Gates. “The What Works Cities initiative is so exciting because it allows Sunlight to be a catalyst in accelerating this next wave of municipal reform. We want to get to the point where the norms have changed so that mayors across the country are no longer asking advocates why their city should have an open policy, and instead are asking their advisers why they don’t have one already.”
In addition to the prospect of fostering a nationwide culture of greater transparency and accountability, scale comes with other benefits to our cities as well. With Sunlight’s help, many of this next round of cities, such as Anchorage or Waco, will be implementing open data initiatives for the first time; other cities, such as Denver or Las Vegas, have established programs and are looking to further advance best practices or refine existing policies. With every city at a different point along this spectrum and with each taking a slightly different approach to open data, participating cities will be encouraged to learn from one another through a connected community of What Works Cities facilitated by Sunlight and our partners.
What Works Cities continues to allow Sunlight to expand upon our existing work to advance open data policies and practices at the local level, and we are looking forward to supporting this next round of communities.
Be sure to check our blog often for more coverage of this exciting project!