Minneapolis recognized as one of the best American cities at using data and evidence to improve residents’ lives

July 14, 2021

The City of Minneapolis is proud to share that it has been recognized for achieving 2021 What Works Cities Certification, the national standard of excellence in data-driven city governance. What Works Cities Certification evaluates how well cities are managed by measuring the extent to which city leaders incorporate data and evidence into their decision-making.

“We have always committed to a data-first approach as we build policies and programs to best serve the people of Minneapolis, from maximizing impacts of climate and environmental programs to informing how best to deliver public health resources to unhoused communities,” said Mayor Jacob Frey. “To be recognized for our investment in data and transparency as part of our decision-making processes is a great honor. We must continue working to achieve informed policy and greater levels of transparency to build trust in our community.”

Minneapolis, which achieved certification at the silver level, 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.”

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.

Over the past year, Minneapolis has demonstrated measurable progress on these foundational data practices. Some notable examples of the City’s use of data include:

  • Releasing a new publicly accessible online City resource called DataSource that provides over 40 continuously updated dashboards with wide-ranging data for improving City services and solving City problems last October.
  • Establishing the Green Cost Share program to create a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable City by offering matching funds for properties undertaking an energy efficiency, solar or innovative pollution reduction project.
  • Working with community partners to open four new hygiene stations that provided access to bathrooms and hand-washing stations for residents experiencing homelessness because of building closures during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“At the City we strive for greater equity in every facet of governing and the best way to reach that is to create data-driven benchmarks and then hold ourselves accountable,” said City Council Member Linea Palmisano. “This achievement highlights our dedication to that model of building transparent policies and effective programs to serve all residents.”

The 16 new cities that achieved Certification this year include four cities at the gold level (Austin, Texas; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Detroit, Michigan; and Gilbert, Arizona) and 12 cities at the silver level: Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Bellevue, Washington; Fort Collins, Colorado; Glendale, Arizona; Irving, Texas; Little Rock, Arkansas; Madison, Wisconsin; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Norfolk, Virginia; Portland, Oregon; San Antonio, Texas; and Syracuse, New York.

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.

To learn more about the program and how to participate, visit whatworkscities.bloomberg.org/certification.