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Boise, Idaho, USA

Recycling Wastewater to Build a More Resilient Future

Project Type:
Community Engagement, Equity, Health and Wellbeing, Technology

At a Glance


$570 million: Bond amount voters approved with 81% support in November 2021, funding Department of Public Works Water Renewal Services projects slated through 2030. 


50+: Number of open house events held at the city’s water recycling pilot site


6 million gallons: Amount of additional water Boise will add to its renewal capacity each day when fully its Recycled Water Program is implemented, strengthening the city’s resilience against drought, population growth and climate change.


2029: Year the brand-new water recycling facility is slated to open.

In Boise, climate change and population growth all pose a long-term challenge to the most precious natural resource: water. The city of about 247,000 people draws 70% of its water from aquifers and 30% from the Boise River. Both water sources are under growing stress due to rising demand for irrigation, shrinking snowpack and increasing drought frequency.

To build resilience and support growth, the City of Boise has embraced water recycling. In 2020, the Department of Public Works’ Water Renewal Service utility issued a data-driven strategic plan to ramp up Boise’s water recycling capabilities over the next 10 years, with a new focus on aquifer recharging. A centerpiece of the plan is construction of the city’s first recycled water facility.  

City leaders have worked to rally Boise residents around their vision to ensure an adequate supply of water for both residential use and new businesses. They built buy-in various ways. The City held over 50 community meetings to show trade-offs of water treatment models to address limited water supply. The result was a $570 million bond measure that passed in 2021 with voters’ overwhelming support (81% voted in favor). This allowed the City to move on major water renewal capital projects, including a new $420 million water recycling facility, with minimal sewer user fee increases.

Leaders also leveraged the annual budgeting process to build stakeholder support. In recent years the City’s budget has included tens of millions of dollars in water renewal capital project investments, including for an advanced water treatment pilot to test new technologies. The pilot site, which opened in 2023, tests five different filtration technologies including reverse osmosis and ultraviolet advanced oxidation, to remove all chemicals and pollutants from industrial wastewater. Notably, one goal for data from the pilot is to build trust with residents.  The City aims to show that the recycling treatment will produce safe water for the community. 

As Boise city officials and residents deepen their knowledge of innovative filtration technologies, which aren’t common in Idaho, a more resilient future is coming into view. In February 2024, the City purchased a 76-acre plot of land where it will build the new state-of-the-art recycled water facility. Construction will start in 2025, a key step toward a more sustainable Boise.

The WWC team at the Boise water facility.

“The open houses we’ve done with community engagement of this pilot, the ability to show people the technology and talk about it, is really incredible.”

Haley Falconer, Environmental Division Senior Manager, Public Works Department
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Guatemala City, Guatemala

Improving the Quality of Life in Neighborhoods Through Public Space, Resident Participation and Preventive Security

Project Type:
Community Engagement, Equity, Health and Wellbeing, Technology

At a Glance


44% reduction in criminal activity (on average) in 2019 compared to 2016 in six neighborhoods prioritized through the program Prosperous Neighborhood. 12% reduction in crime victims and 26% increase in the perception of security in the Próspero San José La Chácara neighborhood in 2022.


More than 275,000 residents benefitted directly or indirectly from the Prosperous Neighborhood between 2017 to 2023.


Residents of all ages created 1,216 drawings of their ideal neighborhood in the Neighborhood of Your Dreams workshops. These drawings informed the design of public space improvements.


In a 2023 survey, 90% of respondents in the Próspero San José La Chácara neighborhood said that improving public spaces contributes to improving relations between neighbors.

The preventive security and protection of a neighborhood is strengthened when residents feel empowered to improve and control public spaces. This simple but powerful idea is a fundamental premise of Guatemala City’s Prosperous Neighborhood Program, promoted by Mayor Ricardo Quiñónez, which combines data analysis and resident participation to increase safety and improve quality of life in neighborhoods in this growing city. The Prosperous Neighborhood Program, implemented by the Municipality of Guatemala, with the support of the Embassy of the United States of America in Guatemala and the Government of Guatemala, focuses on three main areas:

  1. Work in the neighborhood to revitalize and improve public spaces that promote social gatherings, recreation, and community events.
  2. Increasing civic participation of residents, through training, social, cultural, recreational and economic strengthening programs.
  3. Collaboration between police and the community to improve security, promoting peaceful coexistence and order.
Inauguration of the Lavarreda Community Kiosk with Mayor Ricardo Quiñónez, representatives from the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala, National Civil Police and residents. Image Courtesy of Guatemala City.

The first step was to identify where to start the program. In 2016, with the support of the Ministry of the Interior, the National Civil Police and other government agencies, Mayor Ricardo Quiñónez’s delegates identified the six municipal areas with the highest crime rates. These six zones comprise 38% of the city’s area and are home to 64% of its population.  Subsequently, the program team identified the areas where there was the highest concentration of criminal acts in each area. For the first phase of the program (2017-2019), six neighborhoods with high population concentration adjacent to these areas with higher crime rates were prioritized to make improvements, seeking to strengthen citizen coexistence and improve security with a preventive approach. For the second phase, three priority neighborhoods were added (2020-2022). 

The City sought a successful crime prevention model to inform improvements in public spaces. The municipal government team involved residents in priority neighborhoods through exploratory walks, surveys and workshops. For example, the “Neighborhood of Your Dreams” workshops allowed residents of all ages to express their visions for improvements through drawings.  

The improvements in public spaces varied depending on the neighborhood, since they respond to the needs that the neighbors expressed about each one. For example, in one of the nine neighborhoods intervened to date, in the area of ​​San José La Chácara and Saravia in Zone 5, more than 15,000 residents have directly benefited, since a new promenade has been implemented that includes a bike lane, exercise machines, trees and improved lighting.

Regarding preventive security infrastructure, a Community Kiosk was installed in the existing park. The strategy to locate these facilities seeks to build them close to squares, parks or public transport stations, integrated into a video surveillance system and constant training for police officers, since they are articulated with existing police stations, stations and substations of the National Civil Police.

The overall results are encouraging: more than 12,000 square meters of public spaces recovered in 9 neighborhoods, including squares, parks, walks and bike paths, directly benefiting more than 119,000 people.  

For residents, the benefits of the Prosperous Neighborhood Program included a reduction in crime rates and an increase in perceptions of safety. For example, a survey conducted in 2022 of residents of San José La Chácara and Saravia found a 12% reduction in crime victims, a 26% increase in the perception of safety and an increase of seven hours in the use of public parks.

Infographic of highlights and achievements of the Prosperous Neighborhood Program. Courtesy of Guatemala City.

Looking ahead, the Municipality of Guatemala will continue to expand the program while optimizing its approach based on data and lessons learned.  Since 2023, it has expanded the Program to 36 neighborhoods, benefiting 48% of the municipality’s population. The results so far confirm that sustainably improving public safety requires more than simply deploying police resources. When residents can confidently use the public spaces they feel are their own, it produces a deeper sense of community—and a more prosperous and secure Guatemala City. 

“The city is our home and the goal is for us to love it. Let’s take care of it, live in it and improve it together.”

Mayor Ricardo Quiñónez

“Strengthening coexistence between neighbors and improving security in the neighborhoods are priorities for the Prosperous Neighborhood program.  We aim to improve the quality of life and create a city with opportunities for all.” 

Mayor Ricardo Quiñónez
Plaza El Limón was revitalized as part of Prosperous Neighborhood. Image Courtesy of Guatemala City.

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Issaquah, Washington, USA

Data Helps Issaquah Close Gaps in Homeless Services

Project Type:
Community Engagement, Equity, Housing

At a Glance


Staff from the City’s Homeless Outreach program had 1,555 interactions with unhoused community members between September 2021 and January 2024. On average, it takes four to five interactions with a person before they consider accepting services.


Created and launched Data Quah, a data training program for staff. All new hires participate in Data Quah 101 to learn about the City’s data collection and tracking systems. Over 50% of staff engaged with Data Quah in its first year.


Monitored crime trends and partnered with local businesses to gather and share data. In 2023, burglaries fell by 37% and thefts by 26%.


Using data to show how investment in the arts promotes tourism and economic development. The City tracks requests for arts grants, providing insight into community-wide needs and allowing for more strategic funding decisions. (Jakob is a city art highlight.)

Staff from the City of Issaquah’s Human Services team first met John in September 2021. At the time he was camping under bridges and had been homeless for four years. It took repeated meetings to build enough trust with John to begin the process of finding him a permanent home. With the help of the City, federal rental assistance and family, John moved into an apartment in March 2022. 

John is one of 37 people the City has helped move into permanent housing since it began its Homeless Outreach Program in June 2021. It has also provided unhoused community members with over 1,000 connections to services, such as temporary shelter, transportation and medical treatment. 

The Homeless Outreach Program started with a goal of filling information gaps about homelessness in Issaquah. Data collected by the Human Services team showed that homelessness was more prevalent than originally thought, and that shelter, treatment and affordable housing were needed in Issaquah. These findings were incorporated into the first-ever Human Services Strategic Plan, which includes goals and action steps for effectively responding to homelessness. In 2022, the City began using an online dashboard to track data from the Homeless Outreach Program and share timely updates with the community. 

“We’ve got some good data over time. But are we really able to tell that we got the outcome that we were trying to? Not just that we tried, but that we moved the needle.”

Mayor Mary Lou Pauly

Trends emerged from the data. Because Issaquah didn’t have an emergency shelter, people had to leave town for a bed, something many did not want to do. Even when they were willing to accept shelter, 43% of the time no beds were available in the regional shelters. To fill the need, the Homeless Outreach Program began collaborating with a local hotel franchise to provide emergency shelter during extreme winter weather.  

The initiative was modeled on a successful hotel-based emergency shelter program King County ran during the pandemic to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Human Services staff found that people were more likely to accept shelter in a motel room in Issaquah during extreme weather than other shelter options. The stability of the motel also allowed staff to engage more consistently with individuals, build trust faster and make quicker progress on service goals.

Seeing the positive outcomes, the City proposed expanding the collaboration with the motel beyond short-term shelter and into emergency housing. Data gathered from the homeless outreach encounters led to the City Council’s approval of a pilot program. The pilot program dedicated 12 rooms in the motel to supporting community members as they move from homelessness to permanent housing. The Human Services team, in partnership with the City’s Performance Program Analyst, will continue to collect and analyze data, look for trends, and evaluate whether their approach is alleviating homelessness in Issaquah.

1,073 connections to services, including temporary shelter, basic needs and transportation

From left WWC’s Emily Ferris, Issaquah’s Assistant to the City Administrator Dale Markey-Crimp, and WWC’s Jake Hemphill in front of Issaquah’s troll, Jakob Two Trees. Jakob is one of six trolls that form a large-scale public art installation.

“I was approved for a voucher to find housing. They did that for me!! The City of Issaquah rescued me but that’s only part of it. The man, Amir, who helped me went above and beyond the call of duty. He drove me places to apply, he paid deposits and holding fees. He started out as a case manager, but I consider him my friend.” 

John, Issaquah resident who experienced homelessness

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San Pedro Garza García, Mexico

Data Makes A Resident Service Platform Go From Good to Great

Project Type:
Health and Wellbeing, High-Performing Government, Youth Development

At a Glance


Evaluated the City’s resident services chatbot, found room for improvement and made changes that reduced response times by 50% and saved $8.5 million


Visited 9,000 homes in 18 priority neighborhoods to interview caregivers about what services they needed. Services included transportation, grocery assistance and weekly breaks from caregiving. On average, caregivers in the resulting program reported a 30-point improvement in well-being after five weeks.


In response to feedback from caregivers, the City created—and then expanded—a mini public transportation route with 14 stops.


Reduced park maintenance costs by centralizing park management with a public-private partnership.

In February 2020, San Pedro Garza García launched a WhatsApp-based, resident service chatbot called Sam Petrino, or “Sam” for short. Previously the City received service requests – about potholes, broken street lights, overflowing garbage bins and more – by phone, through its website or in person at City Hall. But the Office of Innovation and Citizen Participation believed more residents would engage if they could use WhatsApp, the most common communication platform in Mexico.

They were right. Within two weeks of its launch, Sam was receiving more reports than any of the other reporting methods. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and Sam’s purpose evolved. The City expanded Sam to include options for requesting food assistance or other support, reporting domestic violence, making donations or volunteering, and, eventually, registering for vaccines. By the end of 2020, Sam was averaging over 1,000 reports each month and gaining international acclaim, including receiving the National Institute of Transparency’s Innovation Award.

The City could have called Sam a success and shifted into autodrive. But, in 2021, data showed that Sam was not working as well as it could. The flood of new reports was creating internal problems, response times were slow, resident satisfaction was dropping, and the data being gathered through the chatbot was stuck in silos. The City interviewed staff, reviewed processes and made changes.

The entire government is, so to speak, connected to the bot.

Mayor Miguel Treviño de Hoyos

The City made 15 improvements to the Sam Petrino chatbot.

The City re-engineered Sam, making more than 15 improvements. Now, Sam is fully automated and digitized, internal reporting operations have been streamlined, and the public has clear accountability channels. Data from Sam is reliably gathered, shared across departments and publicly, and used in decision making.

The result: Despite 110% more citizen service reports submitted in 2023 than in 2019, the City responded 8.6 times faster – sometimes within hours – with the same amount of staff and the same amount of funding. Citizen satisfaction with Sam and the City’s response to service requests has increased from 67% before the changes to 84% after the changes were implemented. The majority of City staff also approve of the new internal processes behind Sam, which have helped foster accountability and recognition for those responding to the reports.

The City’s willingness to listen to the data, its residents and staff allowed it to see that even award-winning innovations can be improved. It’s a successful approach San Pedro Garza García is now broadly applying to better serve its residents.

What I would tell all other mayors is, ‘If your resources are scarce – which they are – you have to understand what you are achieving with these resources. And the only way to do that is to measure what you are doing.’

Mayor Miguel Treviño de Hoyos

Monterrey, Mexico

Improving Quality of Life Through a Data-Driven, Resident-Oriented Municipal Budget

Project Type:
Community Engagement, Equity, Health and Wellbeing, Technology

At a Glance


5% of the City’s annual real estate tax is allocated to projects proposed by residents through the Participatory Budget.


10,254 of votes cast by residents in 2023 for participatory budget proposals in 2023—five times higher than votes cast in 2022.


313 project proposals submitted by residents for the 2024 participatory budgeting round.


30 projects funded in 2023.

In late October 2023, Monterrey residents and city leaders gathered at the Rube Bridge in the Bella Vista neighborhood to celebrate a resident-led transformation. A once nondescript concrete underpass, which many neighbors avoided due to open-air drug use and loitering, was inaugurated as a recreational space featuring a soccer field, basketball and tennis courts, modern lighting and benches. Plans for security cameras, a playground and murals are in the works.

This revitalization is the result of the City of Monterrey’s participatory budgeting (PB) program, which allocates five percent of annual property tax receipts to fund resident proposals each year. Launched in 2022, the proposal is part of the city’s growing commitment to collaborative government and data-driven decision making.

Here’s how it worked:

  1. A resident of the Bella Vista neighborhood submitted a proposal to revitalize the bridge underpass.
  2. The City approved the proposal and included it on the ballot.
  3. Voters approved related proposals in 2022 and 2023.
  4. Bella Vista neighbors formed a committee to review construction project bids and monitor work site progress. (The commitment to this project from Bella Vista residents is remarkable—residents helped keep construction materials secure by sleeping at the construction site.)
Image Courtesy of the City of Monterrey.

Residents are clearly powering Monterrey’s participatory budgeting process—and behind the scenes, so is data. To ensure that wealthy enclaves don’t receive a disproportionate amount of funding, the City divided Monterrey into 30 sectors based on their respective socioeconomic conditions. It then prioritized funding projects in vulnerable areas. Additionally, the amount of funds made available to a particular proposal depends on four factors: the number of inhabitants of the area, the correct payment of property taxes, the level of segregation and the amount of active neighborhood councils in a sector. All proposals put up for vote must also meet technical and legal requirements, as well as being aligned to the City’s strategic goals.

One signal of the PB program’s success? Its growing popularity. In 2022, residents proposed 265 projects, of which 160 were accepted by the City; 2,452 residents ultimately approved 30 to receive funding. Last year, the City received 280 proposals, with 172 deemed feasible and 30 selected by voters. More than four times as many people (10,254) voted on those projects, thanks in part to a city communications campaign that drew on results from a performance analysis of the PB program’s first year.

Today, with civically active residents and an administration that routinely uses data to identify and prioritize local needs, progress is happening in Monterrey. Across the city—the first in Mexico to earn What Works Cities Certification—public spaces are being rehabilitated and reforested, and mobility infrastructure is being made safer. This is what smart, open government looks like in action.

“By having transparency mechanisms in place so citizens can understand how we use resources and make decisions with data, we’re promoting collaboration between society and government. It’s about being able to understand and recognize what can be improved. If we don’t listen to citizens, we lose a fundamental way to keep growing and improving.”

Monica Medellín Estrada, Director of Proactive Transparency, City of Monterrey
Monterrey city staff share more about the participatory budgeting process. Image Courtesy of the City of Monterrey.

“As leaders we have to make decisions every day, otherwise things can fall apart. Whatever our intentions, data helps us know what to do. When you have data, you know you are making a good decision.” 

Luis Donaldo Colosio Riojas, Mayor

30 resident-proposed projects funded by participatory budgeting

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Luján de Cuyo, Argentina

Bajo Luján’s Journey to New Housing.

Project Type:
Community Engagement, Environment, Equity, Health and Wellbeing, Infrastructure, Public Safety, Technology, Transportation

At a Glance


Relocated more than 1200 families who lived in flood-prone areas.


Created a workforce development initiative that employed residents, renovated public land and expanded access to recycling centers.


Improved access to territorial data, which made getting land permit data faster—going from months of waiting to just three clicks. The platform, Luján 3D, allows renovations and housing development to have substantial improvements.


Improved accessibility for residents with disabilities through an adapted bicycle program.

In 2016, a survey conducted by the city of Luján de Cuyo, Argentina, revealed a heartbreaking reality. There were about 3,500 families who lived in marginal or informal neighborhoods, of which 700 were concentrated in the Bajo Luján area, often without basic services. The most vulnerable residents lived near a flood-prone river, underscoring the urgency for change. As a result, the City developed an ambitious urbanization and relocation project, supported by the World Bank.

At the heart of the initiative was a resident-driven approach. Residents were surveyed to identify and prioritize needs, including proximity to employment, family size, and level of need to minimize disruption to their daily lives. Efforts to monitor the impact of this relocation were key. A survey and audit process was initiated, capturing residents’ experiences before, during and after the move. This data was visualized through PowerBI dashboards, allowing real-time tracking of project progress.

“Governing is making decisions. Doing it well requires exceptional use of data. If we intend to achieve real impact in the community, our public policies must be data-driven. We dream of becoming an international example of well-managed local government.”

Esteban Allasino, Mayor

The result was the construction of 700 homes in 11 neighborhoods.

This enormous initiative not only provided new homes, but restored a sense of human dignity and trust in government for those who had long been marginalized.

Seven hundred safe and practical homes is a significant achievement.

Additionally, the community intervened and regularized other settlements benefiting 500 families, completing a very ambitious stage that managed to reach more than 35% of the most vulnerable sector of the City.

But the government did not stop there. City leaders knew that housing is only one part of poverty. Thus, in an effort to create employment opportunities, the city turned its attention to residents who worked at the landfills as urban recyclers.

These families made a living collecting recyclable materials from garbage dumps. To help them, the following public policies were promoted: Closure and remediation of garbage dumps, Social inclusion of urban reclaimers, Inclusive Recycling Program – Centro Verde. In this way, the city, together with a group of neighbors, mainly women, officially formed a cooperative. The City provided land and necessary infrastructure.

The Fortress of My Earth, which now has nearly 30 members, launched a program that uses geographic information system (GIS) data to strategically place recycling bins throughout the city. This project successfully increased the number of Green Dots from 8 to 65, ensuring that residents could easily find a container within 500 meters of their homes. This caused a notable increase in recycling from 2021 to 2023.

The story doesn’t end there. In 2021, the City cut the ribbon on Luján Park,  located in the previously abandoned housing settlement Bajo Luján. The area has been transformed into a lively community space, with children’s play areas with equipment made from recycled plastic from the cooperative.

The Bajo Luján and Centro Verde projects reveal how intertwined initiatives can have an exponential impact on residents’ lives. They boosted citywide sustainability, helping hundreds of Luján de Cuyo residents achieve housing stability and financial independence and building much-needed trust in local government.

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Bogotá, Colombia

Bogotá’s Evidence-Based Approach to Empowering Caregivers

Project Type:
Community Engagement, Equity, Health and Wellbeing, Technology

At a Glance


The district administration built 21 Care Blocks, community centers that have provided support to more than 180,000 female caregivers and their families since January 2022.


Since its inception, the services of the Bogotá Care System have improved the lives of more than 546,500 women and their families. In 2023, it helped more than 550 women receive their high school diploma.


Through the Bogotá Public Innovation Laboratory – iBO, the Care Blocks are implementing new registration technology through a chatbot. The first stage managed to integrate more than 2,400 women to the system.


They successfully combined the use of data and feedback from residents to build a social support program that promotes economic mobility.

In a pioneering initiative aimed at supporting caregivers, Bogotá has successfully established 21 community centers throughout the city called Care Blocks.

During a visit from the What Works Cities Certification team to a Care Block in the Manitas neighborhood in the town of Ciudad Bolívar, which is considered a vulnerable area, the impact of the program was evident. As people danced and celebrated the Care Block’s third anniversary, caregivers expressed gratitude for the opportunity to receive support to improve their lives.

Care Blocks are designed to relieve the responsibilities and stress of caregiving. The goal is to allow caregivers to focus on other essential aspects of their lives that often get pushed aside due to their duties. All services provided are free, including community laundries. With these, more than 14,700 hours of care work were freed up for women, equivalent to 616 days.

According to the District Secretariat for Women, since January 2022, more than 180,000 female caregivers and their families have participated in the Care Blocks.

Image Courtesy of the City of Bogotá.

The District is actively involved in improving the program. Thanks to the Bogotá Public Innovation Laboratory – iBO, they are developing a system to register people in various activities offered in the Care Blocks, using a recently implemented chatbot to address queries and facilitate registrations. There are more than 2,100 engagements with the chatbot.

The results for residents and the emphasis of digitization and data have attracted the attention of leaders across the city and the country as a model to improve the lives of residents. Efforts are underway to conduct a comprehensive impact assessment and increase outreach.

Bogotá’s pioneering initiative highlights the cultural evolution around care. This model is proving to be a catalyst for positive change in the lives of caregivers throughout the city and a reference for other cities to follow.

“Here we can continue studying and fulfill our dreams. We [caretakers] are always told: ‘This is going to inhibit you and you will not be able to move forward,’ but this program really helps us a lot.”

Tatiana Guayara, San Cristóbal Care Block beneficiary (quote provided by the City)
Image Courtesy of the City of Bogotá.

“With this Certification it is evident that Bogotá has put data, technology and innovation at the center of government decisions on critical issues such as the District Care System, the environment and mobility. Our commitment is to continue with this effort, build on what has been built and continue promoting a conscious, responsible and strategic use of information to improve the quality of life of citizens.”

Carlos Fernando Galán Pachón, Mayor

550 caretakers have earned their high school diploma through Care Blocks

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Port St. Lucie, Florida

Residents Tag Mobility as Priority. Port St. Lucie Uses Data to Deliver.

Project Type:
Community Engagement, Infrastructure, Public Safety, Transportation

At a Glance


In 2023, launched a newly formatted Port St. Lucie Stat program, moving from an annual review of operations to quarterly reviews. 


Collects resident input through an annual Citizen Summit and National Community SurveyTM.


In response to resident demand for better mobility options, the City  developed and found funding streams to support a Sidewalk Master Plan, Multimodal Plan and Mobility Plan.


Anticipating new jobs bringing over 9 million sq. ft. of new office, retail, research and industrial developments, the City created a jobs corridor with public art and green space requirements.

Port St. Lucie is one of the fastest growing cities in the country, adding more than 35,000 new residents in the past three years. This rapid growth comes with benefits and challenges. But, with the help of data and resident input, the Mayor, City Council and staff are successfully managing today’s growth and planning for the future. 

At the heart of their efforts is Port St. Lucie’s strategic plan. First developed in 2013, the plan is updated annually to reflect residents’ priorities as gathered at the #IAMPSL Citizen Summit and through a National Community Survey(NCS)TM. The City strives to make the Citizen Summit fun and easy for residents to attend – approximately 800 people came in 2023. The NCSTM takes a different approach for reaching residents. Run by the National Research Center at Polco, the survey is sent to a scientifically random sampling of households. 

For several years now, residents have made it clear – at both the Citizen Summit and through the NCSTM – that improving mobility around the city should be a priority. In 2023, only 4 in 10 residents said it was easy to walk around the city and even fewer thought it was easy to bike or use public transit. These findings are not necessarily surprising. Port St. Lucie was developed as a retirement community in the 1960s and included few sidewalks. But, in line with resident feedback, the City has made adding more sidewalks a key infrastructure priority in its strategic plan. 

In 2017, the City Council approved an enhanced  10-year Sidewalk Master Plan to add 35 miles of sidewalks, particularly on streets within a two-mile radius of schools, and to create a network of connected sidewalks. Progress on the plan has been helped by a resident-approved half-cent sales tax increase for infrastructure projects. As with its other strategic goals, the City tracks its performance on the Sidewalk Master Plan on a public dashboard. It also recently revamped its Port St. Lucie Stat program to meet quarterly and to align with best practices on strategic planning and establishing performance metrics. This allows the Public Works and Police Departments to better collaborate on mobility solutions in response to traffic data. The Police Department also has a Stat program in place as part of their data-informed approach.

In 2022, the City installed 4.9 miles of new sidewalks and repaved 49.94 miles of roads.

And the City has not stopped with the Sidewalk Master Plan. In 2021, it began exploring multimodal planning as a way to increase sidewalk connectivity, expand transit coverage, reduce congestion, and accelerate street repairs and improvements. State legislation allows local governments with multimodal plans to collect flexible mobility fees on new developments instead of road-specific impact fees. The City adopted both a Multimodal Plan and a Mobility Plan in order to access this flexible funding. As of September 2023, the City had collected $22 million in mobility fees to invest in projects that will have the biggest impact for current and future residents. 

“The City of Port St. Lucie has a strategic plan to bring the City towards an even better future. Each year, our nationally award-winning planning process begins with listening to the input and ideas of Port St. Lucie residents. Through this process, residents can truly help shape the future of their City.”

Kate Parmelee, Deputy City Manager for Strategic Initiatives & Innovation

“Basically everything we do here is based on our strategic plan.”

Shannon Martin, Mayor

According to the U.S. News & World Report #2 safest city to live in the U.S.

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Medellín, Colombia

Medellín’s Data Breakthrough Reduces Teen Pregnancy by 54%

Project Type:
Community Engagement, Equity, Health and Wellbeing, Technology

At a Glance


Invested significantly in data infrastructure during the pandemic, resulting in increasing the number of intensive care units from 300 to 1000.


In 2020, there were 3,792 teenage pregnancies. As of November 2023, that number was 1,743.


More than 626 public datasets and 61 open data dashboards and visualizations.


Pico y Placa traffic program reduced road congestion by 50%.

Latin America is a region with one of the highest rates of underage pregnancy in the world, and Medellín, Colombia, is not immune to the trend. In 2020, 40 in every 1,000 teenage girls became pregnant in the city of 2.5 million.

Teenage pregnancy comes with higher health risks for the mother and child, severely impedes economic mobility and has well-documented social costs. A few years ago, Medellín’s data related to teenage pregnancy lived under the umbrella of the Health Department. Yet, teenage pregnancy is influenced by health, social, economic and cultural factors—data in a silo meant Medellín was missing the big picture.

In 2020, at the height of the pandemic, Medellín leadership recognized that the City needed significant and rapid investment in data. Former Mayor Daniel Quintero created the Digital Innovation Secretariat in September 2020, which prioritized investing in data infrastructure and innovation, and set the stage for lasting culture change. At the same time, the City laid out its strategic priorities in a development plan that included a focus on health. A reduction in the pregnancy rate of adolescents 10 to 19 years old was chosen as a key health indicator.

From there, the solution happened in three stages:

  1. Modernizing data management. City leaders transformed how the government manages data. The process of creating a centralized repository of data started with knocking on department doors asking for Excel spreadsheets, Powerpoints and other files with stored data. It took “plenty of love and plenty of patience,” said team member Julio Cesar Mendoza. But the labor of love was worth it: Now the City has access to essential insights into every policy and program.
  2. Co-creating solutions. Next, leaders from various government departments and community organizations held sessions to determine the best metrics to track and strategies to try to prevent teen pregnancy, including disaggregating data by neighborhood, age, marital status, education level and more (such as whether the mother had subsequent pregnancies.) Based on the data, this group found that schools were the most effective place to focus pregnancy prevention efforts, and that educating and empowering school-aged children would be critical to reducing early motherhood.
  3. Engaging the Community. These findings sparked a comprehensive community engagement campaign. Most significantly this includes the “I Decide When” campaign, a strategy across 11 city departments that focuses on the social determinants of teenage pregnancy and uses data to dictate tactics. For instance, there is a chatbot for sex education. Additionally, the City held a contest for schools to come up with ideas to prevent teenage pregnancy. The winning school was in a neighborhood with a high rate of adolescent pregnancy.
Image Courtesy of the City of Medellín.

Today, Medellín’s efforts to reduce teenage pregnancy continue. And with its strong data foundation, the City is committed to making headway on other policy priorities, such as reducing child malnutrition and expanding universal education. Learn more about how data is changing lives in Medellín.

“Our ultimate goal and obligation as public servants is the improvement of the quality of life of our citizens. Thus, when we identified a gap between the speed at which the city and citizens were progressing with data versus how the government was advancing, we began this entire transformation process.”

Ana Maria Valencia Cáceres, Subsecretaría de Ciudad Inteligente de la Secretaría Innovación Digital

“We created all the infrastructure and investment to increase internal capacity in terms of innovation: the Digital Innovation Secretary, technology and specifically increased capacity for data use.”

Mayor Óscar de Jesús Hurtado Pérez

5% of City revenue is allocated each year to projects chosen by residents in Medellín’s participatory budgeting process.

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Rock Hill, South Carolina, USA

Public Transportation Steered By Data

Project Type:
Community Engagement, Environment, Health and Wellbeing, Transportation

At a Glance


The percentage of residents who report using public transportation has more than doubled since their fare-free, all-electric public buses began in 2019.


More than 700 alumni of a 10-week civics course provided to residents by the City.


Increasing tree canopy by planting three trees for every one tree the City cuts down.

Rock Hill, SC, tried public transportation in the 1990s. It wasn’t a roaring success; people didn’t know about it and ridership was low. However, in 2015 a Winthrop University survey found that 80% of respondents identified transportation as a top need. With that data point, Mayor John Gettys knew it was time to give public transportation another go.

Data was a guiding force from the start. The City paired the survey with qualitative data from focus groups that also said fixed-route transit would minimize barriers and provide opportunities to residents. With the need established, choosing routes and schedules were the next items on the agenda. Again, the City leaned on resident feedback, partnering with United Way to hold interest meetings. At the same time, regional planning associations used census data and maps to plot routes that would most benefit residents who needed it most. For instance, they didn’t just look at neighborhood density, they looked at where residents without cars lived, and they made sure that routes passed parks, shopping centers, health care facilities and other places residents recommended.

Image Courtesy of the City of Rock Hill.

“The reason we accomplish big things is that we use data to drive decisions, something the City has done consistently over the last 20 years. I think being strategic and utilizing data to solve challenges attracts good representatives who want to come in and do big things, good things for our community.”

John Gettys, Mayor

“Basing decisions on data can minimize the vitriol of partisan politics, it’s an antidote to a lot of the divide we see in our country today.”

John Gettys, Mayor

My Ride not only improves accessibility, it’s making a more sustainable Rock Hill. The fleet of 10 buses are all electric and produced in South Carolina. The buses reduced about 337 metric tons of CO2-equivalent emissions compared to diesel buses in just their first year, they’re also quieter for riders and cost less to operate.

Data guided My Ride’s funding decisions as well. Evidence showed that it was cost-prohibitive to collect fares, and city leadership knew how much the buses contributed to accessibility. Thus, the buses are fare-free. Federal Transit Authority (FTA) funds help meet the majority of the costs, the rest is covered by the City and partner organizations.

As My Ride’s success grows, so too do the City’s ambitious goals for the bus system. When the program started, their ridership goal was 4,100 passenger trips per week—a goal they met in less than two months. Despite the plunge in ridership due to the pandemic, ridership has bounced back. In FY23, My Ride’s monthly ridership goal was 16,400. They averaged 20,839 passenger trips per month. And they did all of those rides with only three customer complaints the whole year.

This isn’t the end of the line for My Ride. The four, hour-long routes already serve about two-thirds of city residents, and the City is constantly collecting feedback and setting goals for improvement. For example, in 2023 My Ride began to serve additional areas on the existing routes and improved system efficiency.

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