Be Intentional: Lessons from Building a Community of Cities

Over 60 participants from 16 cities gathered in Charlotte, NC, for our third What Works Cities on Tour
  • When scoping a new data project, be intentional about the pieces you need in place for the project to succeed. Miriam McKinney and Matt Pazoles from the Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University shared that the best data projects have a potentially solvable, challenging, and important problem bolstered by a capable team equipped with the appropriate data. Make sure to engage the partners and stakeholders who will be impacted and obtain their perspectives along the way.
  • When assessing the effectiveness of procurements, be intentional about the performance you expect your contractor to achieve. Jennifer North from the Government Performance Lab at the Harvard Kennedy School said, “So often contracts are renewed year after year without anyone ever asking if the contract is doing what we hoped it would do.” But by defining your goals, measuring your outcomes, and incentivizing appropriately, you will develop a stronger procurement and, in time, a better partnership that serves your residents and uses your tax dollars most effectively.
  • When communicating your stories, be intentional about finding the right message-carriers, and developing a narrative that explains how your city’s data work impacts real people. Kristin Taylor from Results for America reminded the group that, when you focus on creating an ongoing dialogue, and not just sharing your biggest wins, you tell stronger stories and build trust with the public.
  • When crafting your approach to sharing city data, be intentional about designing for the specific user personas that are requesting information. As the Sunlight Foundation’s Stephen Larrick said, “Not all data is usable to all people. If you design for everyone, you end up designing for no one.” Sunlight’s Tactical Data Engagement approach gives cities the tools to empower residents with data, make transparency more effective, and develop a stronger relationship between communities and governments.
  • Continue sharing your challenges and solutions with one another.
  • And lastly, be intentional at every step along the way to ensure that programs, projects, contracts, and communications are doing what you hoped they would for the people you’re trying to serve.



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What Works Cities

What Works Cities

Helping leading cities across the U.S. use data and evidence to improve results for their residents. Launched by @BloombergDotOrg in April 2015.