Cambridge City Hall (Photo courtesy Kyle Klein)

The city of Cambridge is one of 16 cities in the nation to be recognized at the silver level in the 2020 What Works Cities Certification program.

What Works Cities evaluates how effectively cities are managed by measuring the extent to which city leaders incorporate data and evidence in their decision-making – whether they have the right people, processes and policies in place to put data and evidence at the center of decision-making. The program was launched by Bloomberg Philanthropies in 2015.

Cambridge was recognized for its measurable progress over the past year on foundational data practices, representing the city’s commitment to advancing how data is used to better serve residents.

The open data and stakeholder engagement criteria assessed for What Works Cities Certification have proven to be essential in Cambridge’s efforts to inform the community during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Cambridge City Manager Louis DePasquale.

Through a collaboration between the Cambridge Public Health Department and the city’s Data Analytics and Open Data program, Cambridge launched a regularly expanding COVID-19 data center. Charts, maps and other information on COVID’s impact in Cambridge are shared with the public daily on the city’s website and through a nightly community email update. The data center provides detailed information on cases, recoveries and deaths by neighborhood, race and ethnicity, age and gender.

Through improved and ongoing data-driven management, Cambridge achieved a 2009 goal of reducing trash by 30% by 2020, a year ahead of schedule, and decreased community arrests by more than 50% since implementing the city’s juvenile-focused Safety Net Collaborative Program. Additionally, Cambridge is empowering the community to make data-informed decisions through programs like the city’s Flood Viewer, which helps residents make decisions about climate adaptation, and the Small Business Dashboard, which provides prospective business owners with vital information about their industry.

Nearly 200 U.S. cities have completed a What Works Cities Assessment; to date, only 24 cities, including Boston, have met the What Works Cities national standard in achieving Certification.

Cambridge City Manager Louis DePasquale (Photo courtesy Kyle Klein)

“Our engagement with What Works Cities has facilitated the sharpening of staff capacity and skills to use data, evidence and stakeholder engagement to improve our residents’ lives,” DePasquale said in an official statement. “I am incredibly proud of this achievement, as it reflects our city’s commitment to making data-informed decisions and delivering the most effective services and programs to the Cambridge community.”

What Works Cities Certification is a movement of cities that are increasing their commitment to building a more effective, more efficient and more equitable local government that works for its residents, and using Certification as a roadmap for doing so.

What Work Cities helps cities use data and evidence more effectively to tackle their most pressing challenges and improve residents’ lives. It is one of the largest-ever philanthropic efforts to enhance cities’ use of data and evidence.

Through the initiative’s expert partners, cities around the country are receiving technical assistance, guidance and resources. Cities also gain access to a collaborative network of peers in cities across the country. For more information, visit whatworkscities.org.