Bloomberg Philanthropies Recognizes Baltimore for Using Data and Evidence to Improve Residents’ Lives

Crest of the City of Baltimore

Brandon M. Scott
Baltimore City
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Baltimore is One of the First 50 Cities to Achieve What Works Cities Certification

BALTIMORE, MD. (Wednesday, December 15, 2021) — Mayor Brandon M. Scott is proud to share that Baltimore is one of 10 new cities to have achieved What Works Cities Certification, in recognition of their exceptional use of data to guide their decision-making and improve residents’ lives. What Works Cities Certification — the national standard of excellence in data-driven city governance — evaluates how well cities are managed by measuring the extent to which city leaders incorporate data and evidence in their decision-making. 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. This new cohort of cities joins 16 cities honored earlier this year, bringing the total number of U.S. cities certified for outstanding data practices to 50.

“We recognize the immense potential that strategic data usage has for helping us track our progress and maximize the performance of our city agencies,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “I have been a consistent champion of improving the way we use data to inform both day-to-day operations and long-term decision-making processes. I want to thank What Works Cities Certification for recognizing the valuable work we are doing to move our city forward and follow through on our commitment to accountability and transparency.”

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.

“The most effective mayors use data to define problems and craft bold new solutions, and this milestone of 50 certified cities highlights the critical progress local governments are leading across the country,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies and 108th mayor of New York City. “By building a culture of data-driven decision-making, these cities will be more resilient and better equipped to fight climate change, protect public health, increase economic mobility, and much more.”

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

  • The Mayor’s Action Plan, which allows residents to see the goals the administration is committed to making significant progress on and accomplishing over this term, organized into the Mayor’s five priority pillars: Building Public Safety, Prioritizing Youth, Clean and Healthy Communities, Equitable Neighborhood Development, and Responsible Stewardship of City Resources. 
  • Open Baltimore, the City’s public data portal, has been key in bringing transparency, accountability, and access to residents. Allowing people to interact with data, download files, analyze and visualize data like COVID-19 dashboards, Minority- and Women-Owned Business Finders, and Baltimore’s City Budget and spending, to ensure that city government works for all of Baltimore.
  • The Department of Housing and Community Development’s CoDe map, gives residents the ability to easily explore citywide housing data, which informs community development work and strategic planning, tracks rent support, and surveys building code enforcement. It has been used by 120,000 residents in the past year, and by the city’s legal aid team to fight COVID-19 evictions for those struggling with housing stability. 

The Certification program launched in April 2017, and U.S. cities with populations of 30,000 and higher are eligible to participate. Cities are awarded Silver, Gold, or Platinum Certification depending on their level of data sophistication.

The 10 new cities achieving Certification at the Silver level this fall include: Durham, NC; Chicago, IL; Rochester, NY; Buffalo, NY; Salinas, CA; Long Beach, CA; Miami, FL; Denver, CO; Baltimore, MD; and Evanston, IL. Earlier this year, 16 new cities achieved Certification. A list of all 50 cities that have achieved Certification is available here.

“These cities are harnessing the power of evidence and data to accelerate progress in their communities,” said Michele Jolin, CEO and Co-Founder of Results for America, the lead partner in the What Works Cities initiative. “As local governments begin investing billions in American Rescue Plan Act funds to meet urgent needs, these certified cities offer a roadmap for how local leaders can use evidence and data to increase the impact of these investments and deliver better results for residents.”

A report released earlier this year by the Monitor Institute by Deloitte, in collaboration with What Works Cities, detailed the growing movement of cities using data to drive decision-making and the benefits of this approach for residents. Since 2015, the percentage of cities tracking progress toward key goals has more than doubled (from 30% to 75%), the percentage of cities engaging with residents on a goal and communicating progress has more than tripled (from 19% to 70%), the percentage of cities with a platform and process to release data to the public has more than tripled (from 18% to 67%), and the percentage of cities modifying their programs based on data analytics has more than doubled (from 28% to 61%). These are several of the data practices assessed as part of What Works Cities Certification.

Certification was developed by a team of experts from Results for America in close consultation with the What Works Cities Certification Standard Committee and with support from the other What Works Cities partners - The Government Performance Lab at the Harvard Kennedy School, The Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University, and The Behavioral Insights Team. Over 200 cities have completed a Certification assessment, benchmarking their practices against the national standard. To learn more about the program and how to participate, visit

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