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Louisville, Kentucky, USA

Louisville: A Data-Savvy Approach, from LouieLab to LouieStat.

Project Type:
Community Engagement, Health & Wellness, High-Performing Government, Public Safety, Technology, Transportation

At a Glance

Created LouieLab so city employees, members of the civic tech community, and other innovators can come together to collaborate on how to achieve shared goals.

Evaluated and shared city departments work and progress with residents via Louiestat, their performance management data program.

Launched a data-driven program to ensure that former inmates were paired with social service providers upon release, lowering reincarceration rates.

Crowdsourced data on internet speed to assess the extent of the city’s digital divide and developed a digital inclusion strategy to remove the barriers keeping residents from jobs and resources.

Louisville’s Approach to Data

A loft-inspired space with exposed brick and a startup vibe isn’t what typically comes to mind when one thinks of a municipal building, but that’s exactly what the Louisville Metro Government has created in its LouieLab. The space is a hub where city employees, members of the civic tech community, and other innovators can come together to collaborate. It’s also a physical manifestation of the City’s efforts to open itself up to residents and strategize, together, on how to achieve shared goals for Louisville’s future.

Mayor Greg Fischer has a term for this: building social muscle. He believes that transparent communication fosters trust with the community. He’s embedded that philosophy throughout his approach to using data, from signing an open data executive order that considers public information to be open by default to launching the City’s LouieStat performance management program, which evaluates departments’ work and shares progress with residents.

Mayor Greg Fischer speaks at LouieLab, a hub where city employees, members of the civic tech community, and other innovators come together.

Chief Data Officer Michael Schnuerle knows firsthand the benefits of a strong social muscle. Cofounder of the local Code for America brigade, the Civic Data Alliance (CDA), he remembers, in the early 2000s, trying to articulate an idea. “I didn’t know what to call it yet,” he recalls. “I was making FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] requests, but I wanted a website where I could access information.” Years later, when such a tool still didn’t exist, he tweeted that, if the civic tech community had opened 311 data in real time, it could see where people are reporting downed trees and help the city more quickly assess storm damage. Mayor Fischer saw the tweet, liked the idea, and teamed him up with Louisville’s IT Services Department to help develop the City’s open data portal.

Soon after, Schnuerle found himself being hired as the twelfth chief data officer in the country. Since then, he’s worked to expand the City’s open data efforts both internally and externally, and cultivate the civic tech community he came from with data requests and hackathons. The City’s Innovation Team also collaborates on CDA projects like helping visually impaired residents access open data through voice-automated smart-home systems like Alexa. “We are so data-driven,” says Schnuerle. “The Mayor always emphasizes analytics. Whenever I talk to him, he always wants to know what the data is and how are we collecting it.”

For Chief of Performance Improvement Daro Mott, who oversees LouieStat, analytics are practically a way of life. His team has trained a staff member in every city department on how to embed the use of data in their work and then to report on their progress. Fundamental to this work has been responding to Mayor Fischer’s call for a culture of “weakness orientation” that focuses on where to improve. Mott explains: “It’s not just data show-and-tell. It’s about asking: ‘How do we use this data over time to fundamentally get better?’”

At a recent LouieStat meeting, the Department of Corrections turned to its numbers to discuss, with Mott’s team, strategies for reducing overcrowding in facilities and unscheduled overtime expenditures. These were complex challenges, and the solutions wouldn’t come easily, but the data were already helping to outline a path forward. Amid the troubleshooting, Mott made sure there was also time to recognize a key win: when data previously revealed high rates of recidivism among certain vulnerable populations, the Department launched a program to ensure that former inmates were paired upon release with social service providers. Now they were beginning to see declines in reincarceration.

“It helps set the tone for what citizens should expect.”

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer

Now entering its seventh year, LouieStat is one of the nation’s longest-running CitiStat leadership strategies, and has 26 departments involved. His team trains hundreds of employees each year on how to use a data-driven, seven-step problem-solving process to improve. LouieStat is empowered by a Learn and Grow series, Louisville’s own version of Denver’s Peak Academy. The City’s goal is to make LouieStat the data-driven management system, not merely a series of forums or a program.

Mayor Fischer says that part of the City’s job is to celebrate success, but also to say where it can do better and then invite residents to be part of the solution. The City’s Innovation Team is finding creative ways to involve residents in tackling tough problems, sometimes by bringing them into the data-collection process itself. In one project, placing GPS-enabled sensors on asthma inhalers is helping to pinpoint areas throughout the city where low air quality is likely to induce asthma attacks. In another project, built at a CDA hackathon, crowdsourcing data on internet speed is helping the City assess the extent of its digital divide and develop a digital inclusion strategy to remove the barriers that are keeping residents from better jobs and other opportunities.

In Louisville, every staff member one talks to seems to share the belief that, with residents at the core and data to guide the way, there’s nothing they cannot accomplish. “We’re small enough to get things done but big enough to matter,” Mott says. A guiding philosophy of the Fischer Administration is the theory of the job: the job consists of daily work, continuous improvement, and breakthrough (innovative) work. “Our data-driven transformation starts and ends with all aspects of measuring the job, and we have a big job to do,” says Mott.

“What gets measured gets done, especially if you take action to improve it.”

Chief of Performance Improvement Daro Mott
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Los Angeles, California, USA

Los Angeles: City of Angels Leads in Transforming Data into Action.

Project Type:
Community Engagement, Communications, Cross-Sector, Equity, Finance, High-Performing Government, Housing, Infrastructure

At a Glance

Published key metrics of success on the Mayor’s Dashboard allowing residents to see how the City is performing.

CleanStat measures quarterly, block-by-block assessments of the entire city to build data on and identify trends in street cleanliness.

After examining an index combining data of displacement patterns with predictive analysis, LA launched a campaign to raise awareness for tenants’ rights, reaching over 20,000 residents in the first year.

Open Data portal provide residents easy access to mapped sets of open data related to health, safety, schools and more.

How LA Measures Success

Los Angeles City Hall has a room with a view. Visitors who make their way to the building’s public observation deck can enjoy a vast panorama of the city below, home to some 3.9 million people. Inside City Hall, the permeation of what works practices is vast; one gets the sense that, after his election, Mayor Eric Garcetti came to the observation deck, looked around, and set out to determine how to embed data in everything the City touches.

That’s why one of his first moves as Mayor was to ensure that all 36 of the City’s General Managers develop key metrics of success for their departments, and then began tracking the data that would monitor progress toward their goals. Their progress is published on the Mayor’s Dashboard, where residents can see for themselves how well the City is performing — setting a new precedent for transparency in municipal service provision.

“Data shines a light on the problem and inspires targeted action. It allows us to be more proactive, more efficient, and more engaging.”

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti


As part of his Back to Basics approach, Mayor Garcetti launched CleanStat in 2016, so that all communities, regardless of their economic status, could enjoy clean streets. CleanStat, the nation’s most comprehensive street-by-street cleanliness assessment system, provides quarterly, block-by-block assessments of the entire city to build data on and identify trends in street cleanliness.

A sanitation worker assigns a cleanliness score to an LA street, part of the City’s Clean Streets initiative. (Photo credit: Los Angeles Times)

“When I came into office, my priority was to improve the quality of life for all Angelenos, and the use of data in assessment, monitoring, and implementation helped us achieve that,” says Mayor Garcetti. “Using data allowed our street-cleaning efforts to shift away from a reactive approach, and instead, focus on a methodical and equitable way.”

With CleanStat, staff from the Bureau of Sanitation drive all of the more than 20,000 miles of the city’s public streets and alleys, assigning a cleanliness score from 1 to 3 — or from clean to not clean — to every block, once a quarter. Those scores are added to the Clean Streets Index, where department officials can keep track of performance and residents can hold the City accountable for its goal to eradicate red grids (ones with a score of 3) by 2018. Residents who want to get more directly involved can sign up for the Clean Streets LA Challenge, with the potential to secure funding for a project to make their neighborhood cleaner.

Before and after a Clean Streets cleanup.

Because workers are generating service requests as they conduct assessments, the new approach is helping the department become more targeted in its response. Now, resources can be deployed to meet the specific needs of the site, and response teams can maximize efficiency. The department is also addressing between 4,000 and 6,000 service requests each quarter that wouldn’t have been called in otherwise, meaning streets are being cleaned more quickly. The results speak for themselves — just one year after its launch, the City had already reduced the number of unclean streets by 82%.

Rent Stabilization Ordinance Campaign

As in so many cities across the country, ensuring adequate access to affordable housing is a growing challenge in Los Angeles. Nevertheless, tenants living in any of the nearly 624,000 units covered by the City’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO) have many rights that aim to keep them in their homes, including protection from excessive rent increases. But when the City’s Housing and Community Investment Department (HCIDLA) began to survey residents, staff made an alarming discovery: nearly one third of renters and nearly as many landlords were wrong about — or were not even aware of — their rights and responsibilities under the RSO.

Data helped LA identify which neighborhoods to target with a campaign to raise awareness of tenant rights under the City’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance.

Through Mayor Garcetti’s Innovation Team (i-team) within his Office of Budget and Innovation, the City of Los Angeles launched a multi-faceted Home for Renters campaign in 2016 to raise awareness of tenant rights through direct outreach, the creation and distribution of easy-to-understand educational guidebooks, placement of PSAs, and more. To ensure the campaign targeted the most vulnerable residents, the i-team examined an index combining data of displacement patterns with predictive analysis on where displacement was likely to occur, mainly households with incomes under $30,000 and areas with high concentrations of RSO housing units and complaints. In its first year, the campaign has reached over 20,000 people online, and more through rigorous field outreach, multilingual handbooks, and strategic ad placement on city buses and benches — all with the goal of increasing the awareness of rights and responsibilities for tenants and landlords under the RSO.

More City Data, More City Solutions

A culture of data use has led to other notable developments, including a new portal tracking all city-owned properties so that staff across departments can better maximize available real estate assets when looking to develop new public amenities. A recent call for a Chief Procurement Officer demonstrates the City’s commitment to modernize the City’s procurement process in response to new technological advancements and data-collection capabilities. Through its Data Science Federation, the City is partnering with local colleges and universities to accelerate its use of data-driven tools at the same time that it’s creating a pipeline to bring new talent into local government. And the City is using data to see what works and what doesn’t as it pilots potential solutions to such challenges as police hiring, problem intersections, and the urban heat island effect before scaling them.

The City’s focus on data also aims to increase civic engagement with residents. Los Angeles’ open data portal greets visitors with an invitation to “find the data useful for you,” while the City’s GeoHub empowers residents with quick access to mapped sets of open data related to health, safety, schools, and more. These efforts are as much about fostering transparency as they are about working to build relationships with residents centered on collaboration and problem-solving.

“When the City gives residents the information to discuss our challenges, we are opening the door for them to help us work towards the right solutions. Los Angeles is a city that leads, and we are proud to pave the way for greater inclusion, opportunity, and equity for our residents in an era of accessible data that’s also ripe for innovation.”

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti

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