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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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Rionegro, Colombia

Leveraging Data for Fiscal Sustainability

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

At a Glance


Has one of the lowest unemployment rates for mid-sized cities in Colombia at 7.5% in 2023, compared to the national unemployment rate of 9.3% in 2023.


Created the Tax Intelligence Center (CIF), through which the City developed its internal data management capacity and increased tax revenue by USD $14,000 in 2022.


In 2021, improved public safety by increasing the number of cameras throughout the City from 65 to 337, which has corresponded to reductions in theft, sexual and domestic violence, and extortion.


Implemented a data-driven triage system for hospital emergency rooms, saving the city $377,500 USD in operating costs (a 91% decrease according to the Secretary of Family, Health, and Social Inclusion).

In recent decades, Rionegro, Colombia, has invested heavily in sectors to improve quality of life for residents, such as housing, sanitation and public spaces. However, this investment has come at a cost, and since 2017, the Rionegro government has operated with a budget deficit. At the same time, the population of Rionegro has grown and its economy has diversified. At the same time, Rionegro’s population has grown and its economy has diversified, and while these developments open opportunities for Rionegro, they also come with challenges.

 

In response, Rionegro created the Fiscal Intelligence Center (CIF). CIF is a comprehensive citywide initiative to use analytics and business intelligence to monitor, manage, evaluate and optimize Rionegro’s financial decisions, notably regarding taxes. Through this data-driven approach, the City is better able to combat tax evasion by using data to choose who to audit. CIF’s work to revamp tax collection is about more than making sure residents contribute their fair share—it aims to transform the culture through taxpayer outreach so that residents see themselves in Rionegro’s development and build trust in city government.

 

What are CIF’s results?

 

Rionegro’s industry and commerce revenues increased by 22% in 2022 and another 24% in 2023.

 

Residents and city staff alike understand that more revenue means more opportunities for the government to address issues that matter, such as employment, security, community projects and health care.

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For instance, Rionegro struggled with overcrowded emergency rooms as residents, especially those from rural communities, flocked to emergency rooms with non-emergency needs. In 2022, Rionegro found that 93% of patients were admitted to emergency rooms for non-emergency services.

 

With strong data practices and increased revenue, Rionegro launched the Te Acompaño platform in coordination with other health service institutions. Te Acompaño helps redirect patients who might not need emergency services from emergency rooms and educate them on how to best seek alternate forms of care. Within the first year, the platform reached 8,000 users, helped improve health care resource savings by 91%, and saved the city’s health care system USD $377,500 in operations costs. In a resident survey, 93% of Te Acompaño users said they were satisfied with the service.

 

CIF is not a behind-the-scenes government initiative, it’s a program that directly impacts residents. From health care to mobility to employment, Rionegro’s residents are seeing how increased digitization and efficiency allow the City to provide better services and build trust with residents.

“With the commitment, support and coordination between the municipal administration and all the actors in the network, it will be possible to improve access and opportunity to health services.”

Felipe Puerta, former Secretary of Family, Health and Social Integration

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Tres de Febrero, Argentina

Making Health Care the Starting Point of Community

Project Type:
Equity, Health & Wellness, High-Performing Government, Technology

At a Glance


15 minutes: The longest a resident in a target population needs to travel to reach a primary health center.


More than 50% of the local population is registered in the municipal public health system, with the proposed minimum goal being 35% (population with only public coverage).


Reduced emergency response time from an average of 60 minutes to 10 minutes, improving public safety and health outcomes.

There is a difference between having the right to health care and having access to health care.

In Argentina, health services are divided among levels of government, and while the country does have universal health care, many residents—especially vulnerable populations—lack access to critical health services. In the 24 municipalities that make up Greater Buenos Aires, 50% of people live in poverty and 54% do not have access to at least some public services.

Given this significant disparity in access, Tres de Febrero, a municipality of 350,000 in the Buenos Aires metro area, understood that it would take transformational change to solve its health care problem.

First, the City analyzed its community needs to identify a priority population of residents who lacked access to government-provided healthcare. The City embarked on an inside-out transformation of its health system with three strategies:

1) Digitize

  • Tres de Febrero invested in key digital infrastructure across its health services. This allowed the City to provide more efficient, more accurate and more user-friendly services for residents when they made appointments, filled prescriptions, got blood work, and more. Crucially, the City also transitioned from paper patient records to digital medical profiles, which directly improves patient care by enabling greater data sharing between health providers and faster access to information for patients. Through coordinated enrollment plans with the electronic registry, Tres de Febrero was able to reach a 100% enrollment rate.

2) Decentralize

  • A core challenge that Tres de Febrero faced was the distribution of its health services and primary care centers (CAPS). Using geographical data about its target population, the City built two new CAPS in strategic locations so that no one in the target population had to travel more than 15 minutes for primary care. They also increased the number of CAPS that could provide specialized services such as dentistry, gynecology and mental health care. For instance, in 2021, only one CAPS had a lab that could do blood tests. By 2023, all 14 centers could.

3) Revitalize

  • Previously, CAPS centers did not exemplify healthy community spaces. They were dilapidated, with exposed electrical wire, flaking paint and visible mold. Being in the buildings did not make residents feel good. Thus, the City renovated more than 14 health care facilities to improve quality of care.
Image courtesy of the Municipality of Tres de Febrero.

“It is not possible for me to pay for a gym membership, but I have been here every day to exercise because there is space to do so.”

Resident speaking about renovated public exercise space

The numbers in Tres de Febrero speak for themselves. The transformation has touched every branch of the City’s health system: emergency response times have dropped by 82%, lab results come in three days, not two weeks, and more than 450 medical professionals have participated in the city’s continuing training program.

This sweeping and dramatic improvement in how Tres de Febrero serves its residents was made possible by data. Tres de Febrero has done more than build health centers: It has created equitable community spaces that build trust in government, deepen community bonds and make lives better.

“As a neighbor, I can see the impact of using data to improve the lives of residents and the community.”

Ailén Gómez, Líder de Seguimiento

“Certification is a valuable tool for mayors. Using data and evidence adds value to strategic planning and increases your chances of success. Using data is essential but it is not enough. You also need to have empathy and political leadership is how you change people’s lives.”

Diego Valenzuela, Mayor

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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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Recife, Brazil

Community Needs Lead in Recife

Project Type:
Education, Health and Wellbeing, High-Performing Government, Public Safety, Technology, Youth Development

At a Glance


15% drop in violence in neighborhoods covered by COMPAZ, more significant when compared to levels of violence throughout the City.


E.I.T.A! Recife, a City-run innovation lab, elevates and experiments with resident solutions to City challenges. More than 660,000 have tested these solutions.


Through an initiative to enable experimentation with digital solutions, the City reduced the time by 70% necessary to implement new solutions.


Development of a vaccination app for COVID-19 that registered 1.6 million users and allowed residents to receive vaccines in an orderly and safe manner, especially compared to vaccine uptake in Brazil overall.


It received resources for climate adaptation via a credit operation with the IDB, which will allow Recife to invest US$364 million in a social, territorial and climate justice initiative called ProMorar. It will be the largest urban resilience program in Brazil and guarantees decent housing for more than 150,000 people.

With an air of historic architecture and an incubator for startups and innovative research, Recife, Brazil, stands out for connecting tradition, modernity and technological expertise. However, Recife has historically had one of the highest levels of income inequality in the country, one of the main factors contributing to conditions that have led to high crime rates in the city. Ranked as the 22nd most dangerous city in the world, Recife recorded 55 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants in 2017.

To combat this violence, as well as drug trafficking, the City drew inspiration from other cities, even traveling to Medellín, Colombia (which successfully implemented a similar project) more than 40 times, to formulate and launch an innovative community center project, COMPAZ. COMPAZ offers a wide range of quality programs and services, from math classes to martial arts classes, to support crime and violence prevention efforts.

With COMPAZ, the city leverages neighborhood-level data and evidence to find and implement solutions by and for communities. Thus, Recife equitably and efficiently supports needy neighborhoods, addressing issues such as public safety and economic mobility with localized and targeted interventions.

“This helps us legitimize the vision that Recife has…when we make data-driven decisions, it leads us to the right solution. We have scarce resources, we need to prioritize allocation and maximize impacts. How can I reach more people with fewer resources?”

João Henrique Campos, Mayor
Image courtesy of the City of Recife.

Data-driven decision making is an integral part of COMPAZ. Using Recife’s open data portal, the city’s evaluation policy unit collaborates with academic institutions to collect data and evaluate program effectiveness, enabling the development of evidence-based policies and programs that provide solutions to issues revealed by the data. The results speak for themselves, with a 15% drop in violence in a COMPAZ neighborhood within four years of starting the project — a significant improvement over the city level, which remained stagnant during that same period.

Recife is not only implementing evidence-based programs like COMPAZ, but it is also at the forefront of innovation. That includes urban space in the city in a testing environment for innovations, making Recife the largest urban open innovation laboratory in Latin America, with an area of 218km². Open Innovation Cycles allow solutions developed by startups to be accelerated by the City Hall through a special contractual regime.Open Innovation Cycles recognize that there are challenges that the public sector cannot achieve alone – transformative solutions must be built with the end user, the resident. The ultimate goal is a city with more equal opportunities for everyone. So far, these innovation cycles have developed:

  • (I) algorithm for completing the electronic medical record integrated into public health systems;
  • (II) software for managing queues for free public health consultations and medical examinations; It is
  • (III) Internet of Things (IoT) sensing for flooding and rain in regions susceptible to disasters to generate real-time alerts and create operational protocols.

The population is at the center of innovative data-driven solutions in Recife. This approach allowed us to tailor policies and programs to the specific needs of the community, using data to determine where resources are most needed and identify opportunities for success.

“We are not reinventing the wheel, we are eager to learn from other cities, from other teams. What works for other cities, we try to adapt to ours.”

João Henrique Campos, Mayor
Image courtesy of the City of Recife.

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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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Córdoba, Argentina

From Paper to Digital in 3.5 Years.

Project Type:
Community Engagement, Environment, Equity, Housing, Infrastructure, Public Safety, Technology

At a Glance


Three and a half years ago, Córdoba did not have any digital processes and used paper for nearly everything. Today, the City has a data governance practice and more than 100 out of 275 identified processes are digital.


88% of the people that uses the health system now have their medical records digitalized.


VeDi App, launched in 2019, has more than 1.1 million users, 70% of Córdoba’s population.


18,000 residents have been trained in digitization courses to reduce the digital gap, of which 80% are women.

In 2019, when Córdoba, Argentina, Mayor Martin Llaryora entered office with a mandate to improve data-led practices, the City of 1.6 million had a small budget and operated almost entirely on paper. For residents of this vast city, which covers an area more than three times the size of Buenos Aires, this meant frequent trips to municipal offices and bureaucratic struggles to address simple issues. 

Córdoba transformed this experience quickly by creating a data governance practice. That allowed the City to prioritize 275 procedures that could make lives easier for residents, such as obtaining driving licenses and building approvals. Mayor Llaryora is most proud of the City’s Citizen App, used by more than 1.1 million people — about 70% of the population. The app lets residents file claims and generates valuable data about problems around the City, helping officials focus resources on issues important to their residents, such as waste, lighting and traffic signals.

“This is an example of hope for Latin America because although we have a very low budget, we were able to develop a smart city.”

Martin Llayora, Mayor

Córdoba has also made progress in adopting digital tools in public health policies. Different community vaccination strategies are now digitalized on the basis of Epidemiology records or the “Mejorar” free electronic prescription program. This online provision and authorization system meant a change in the public drug dispensing system.

Along with its digital efforts, Córdoba is making progress to reduce the digital gap, particularly among women, with Corlab, the city’s Innovation Lab that offers training programs for residents. Through its “Menos Brecha, Más Comunidad” program, out of the 18,000 citizens who have been trained, 80% are women. For a city with a tight budget, adopting the cloud has been doubly beneficial: simplifying processes and eliminating paper waste has saved more than 3.5 billion Argentine pesos across 22 City departments and agencies.

This rapid digital conversion delivers more than savings for the City, it’s a transformation with far-reaching consequences—from everyday services like trash pickup and traffic lights—to the times when residents count on their government the most.

We have the data to know that we are going down the right track. The data is not there to punish you, it’s there to help you course correct.

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Montevideo, Uruguay

Proving That Smooth Data Practices Translate to Smooth Traffic

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

At a Glance


10 transit intervention plans created for hotspot traffic areas.


Reduced annual traffic fatality rate to 6.2 per 100,000 residents—half the country’s overall rate.


Used strong Data Management practices to develop impactful traffic interventions with real-time data.


In recent decades, the leaders of Montevideo, Uruguay, have become familiar with a simple fact with far-reaching consequences: more people means more vehicles. As Uruguay’s commercial, political and cultural hub, Montevideo is no stranger to traffic. In 2015, its leaders set out to address the City’s massive traffic problem in a data-driven way. The City installed dozens of real-time sensors along major routes, created a new Center for Mobility Management to monitor and manage traffic data collection, and implemented a new mobility plan to cool off hotspots.

After building a data visualization platform that displays real-time traffic levels across Montevideo’s road network, and holding neighborhood meetings to understand residents’ traffic concerns, the City focused transit interventions on 10 particularly congested hot zones. Leaning heavily on sensor data analyses, they simulated the impact of different traffic engineering solutions—such as changing the timing and duration of traffic signals, or making a street one-way—and then settled on the most impactful options for each site. This access to high-quality, real-time data, combined with strong data governance practices, allowed the City to better understand the problem and then to develop and test tailored solutions for the hotspot zones.

“We don’t want to collect information just to verify the reality, we want to collect information to change the reality.”

Carolina Cosse, Mayoress

In addition to real quality-of-life improvements for Montevideo drivers, the City also realized environmental benefits, including reduced CO2 emissions, due to less idling, and better fuel economy. Moreover, the City’s commitment to improving traffic flow is helping to save lives. Montevideo’s annual traffic fatality rate is now 6.2 per 100,000 residents—half the country’s overall rate. City leaders believe that the installation of speed radars across the City, along with efforts to lower congestion in hotspots, has helped change driver behavior and prevent traffic-related deaths.

When you can measure a problem, you can manage it—and that’s exactly what Montevideo officials are doing, street by street.

“For us, What Works Cities Certification is a way to measure our performance. The goal isn’t to be happy with where we are now—although we’re proud of our progress—but rather to evolve and provide better services to residents.”

Carolina Cosse, Mayoress

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Mogi das Cruzes, Brazil

Where Urban Planning is for the Children of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.

Project Type:
Community Engagement, Health and Wellbeing, Infrastructure, Parks and Recreation, Youth Development

At a Glance


Created Participa Mogi – an online platform for citizen participation. In its first year, the City received over 1,300 public contributions.


When employment data showed that 25% of Mogi workers were commuting outside of the City, Mogi added 7,000 new jobs in 2022 and increased revenue by 33% ($700 million BRL).


To combat hunger, Mogi das Cruzes created the Social Market Program, which connects farmers to over 1,200 families in vulnerable situations to receive free food.


Deployed innovative Qualitative Data Practices to better understand residents’ needs.

Mogi das Cruzes has found a winning combination. The City of more than 470,000 in São Paulo State is setting itself up for success by using data and community engagement as the foundation of its strategic plan.

Part of this plan includes giving the mic to Mogi’s youngest residents. Mogi das Cruzes wants to be a child-centered city. City officials are asking children for ideas for improving their neighborhoods so that the next generation engages with their government and community. In December 2022, Mogi announced its first “Our Neighborhood Detectives.” Between the ages of 9 and 12, these 24 children will participate in discussions and make suggestions about how to improve the quality of life and urban landscape for all children and adults living in Mogi.

“These boys and girls will represent the children in their neighborhoods and help us create a better city. Their input is an important complement to our data that will improve our decision-making and inspire civic engagement in young people.”

Caio Cunha, Mayor
Image Courtesy of Warley Kenji.

The Neighborhood Detectives project is part of the Mogi Cidade da Criança (City of Children) program, which uses an innovative community engagement and design approach to inform the City’s investments in the wellbeing of its children. Another project within Mogi Cidade da Criança is monitoring air quality for its impact on children’s health. The air quality data is used to make decisions and create action plans, such as enhancing green spaces and encouraging active mobility to reduce emissions.

In addition to engaging its children in planning, the City seeks feedback from residents through regional meetings and neighborhood visits. By thoughtfully and rigorously soliciting resident input, the City is able to use this qualitative data to deepen community impact and better serve residents’ needs. For instance, the City asked for resident feedback about public transportation by conducting surveys in-person on the bus. Bus users were interviewed and the resulting data was used to optimize bus routes.

Mogi das Cruzes also created the Participia Mogi platform for residents to provide input on planning and budget priorities online. The City is opening its internal data up to residents as well, by hosting Open Data Days and making geospatial data available on the GeoMogi website.

“Staff perceive the need to use data in their day-to-day and Certification is helping with this culture shift. Once you have this cultural shift, you can’t go back.”

Caio Cunha, Mayor
Image Courtesy of Warley Kenji.

Additionally, under the guidance of Mayor Cunha, the formula of data and resident input is being used to create a long-term, 40-year plan for the City. The ultimate success of the plan requires institutionalizing recent progress on collecting, managing and analyzing the City’s data. The Mayor’s hope is that residents will expect future administrations to continue the shared vision within a long-term plan: “We wanted this to be a plan for everyone, so we are building a sustainable program that represents the needs of the City as a whole, for today and for the next generation of Mogi residents.”

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