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In the October 2015 issue of the What Works Cities newsletter, read highlights from some of our cities and partners, and check out noteworthy resources, including two new Gitbooks by our partner GovEx.

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October 22 2015 - The City of Jackson urges citizens to complete a new survey that will help the city move forward with its open data initiative. Last month, Mayor Tony T. Yarber signed an executive order that will pave the way for a city government that’s more open, transparent and data driven. This concept was centered on the city’s engagement with Bloomberg Philanthropies’ What Works Cities initiative. As a part of that initiative, Jackson is committed to releasing key data sets within the city to its citizens, businesses, and organizations. The goal is to make constituents more informed about what’s occurring within the city. A survey seeking public feedback has been made available on the city website at or by clicking this link: Copies also will be available at public libraries and community centers.

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October 22 2015 - In cities across America, mayors are eager to make use of ever-growing streams of data to enhance the effectiveness of city services and improve residents’ lives. If you can track why some blighted buildings take so much longer than others to be demolished and rehabbed; if you know that some residents routinely call an ambulance for very minor medical issues; if you can show why some businesses leave a city while others put down stakes – you can use this information to take actions that produce better outcomes for residents, and save money better used elsewhere.

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October 21 2015 - Let’s face it, most urban leaders claim, or have claimed, that their city is making the most of technology. Talk of new technology and digital progress is inherently positive and forward-looking. It encourages an image that is cutting-edge and advanced, one that plays well with voters and business alike. But talk is one thing, actually implementing digital change is quite another. The citizens of Kansas City (KC), Missouri should have no such worries, however. Theirs is a city that has, for some years now, enjoyed a leading position in the race for all things digital. In 2012, for example, KC and neighbouring Kansas City, Kansas together became the first metropolitan area to receive Google’s ultra-high-speed ‘fibre to the home’ network. The project prompted the two cities to join forces and seek out new ways for their communities to reap the potential digital dividends. The result was a playbook and subsequently a new digital leadership network, KC Digital Drive, to propel their continuing evolution into a smart city.

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October 21, 2015

Public Sector Digest: Using Data and Evidence to Drive Results In American Cities

October 21 2015 - There is a sea change underway in cities across the United States. In municipalities large and small, mayors have become innovators and city leaders have become visionaries as they embrace policies and programs based on data and evidence. Throwing aside the status quo of “what has always been done,” these city leaders are reaching for new tools with the capacity to deliver better results for their resi-dents. Whether it’s using data to make city roads safer, to reduce infant mortality, or to clean up city blight, U.S. mayors are energized by the possibilities of data and evidence-driven decision-making.

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October 5 2015 - From emergency-response times and crime stats to jobs numbers, vacancy rates and graffiti reports, scores of U.S. cities are collecting heaps of data virtually around the clock. Far fewer are actually making use of that data. Mesa appears to be one of the cities putting its data to work: Last year, the federal government announced it would give the city's Fire and Medical Department $12.5 million to expand a data-driven pilot program that more efficiently tackles low-level medical calls.

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October 5, 2015

Route Fifty: Figuring Out What Makes the Best-Managed Cities Tick

October 5 2015 - OAKLAND, Calif. — One of the common themes in the world of municipal best practices is how to take the pioneering models of what works and adapt them for use in other local governments. While every jurisdiction is different, there’s increasing interest in trying to pinpoint formulas, methods and applications that are common in the highest-functioning and best-managed cities. “We’re trying to get a better picture of what good looks like,” Beth Blauer, executive director of the Johns Hopkins University Center for Government Excellence, said at last week’s 2015 Code for America Summit at the Oakland Convention Center.

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October 1, 2015

Sunlight Foundation: Why should cities have an open data policy?

October 1 2015 - At this year’s iteration of our annual open government unconference, TransparencyCamp, I had the pleasure of leading a session on the role of policy in the open data movement, and a particular question seemed to strike a chord with participants: Just how relevant and important is an open data policy to a successful open data program? What does it actually accomplish, not just symbolically, but functionally? Or, to put it more bluntly, why have an open data policy?

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September 28 2015 - It’s more than a truism: Our lives are intertwined with one another like never before. The Internet and new forms of technology literally have put the world within reach, and it’s transforming the way we make decisions about everything from our purchases at the grocery store to the way we consume entertainment.  This new level of interconnectedness and shared knowledge also changes the relationship we have with our elected officials and how we address complicated policy issues. While we are all swimming in more information than we ever knew existed, a challenge for those working in the public sector comes in making sense of it and putting it to use in our government, our politics and our communities.

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September 23, 2015

Sunlight Foundation: Big data in the 'Bold New City' of Jackson, Miss.

September 23 2015 - In April of 2014, Mayor Tony T. Yarber was placed in the seat of leadership for Mississippi’s capital and largest city, Jackson. He did so with the intent to foster more accountability and transparency in the city’s government practices. After a little over a year in office, Yarber is making good on his promise by establishing the use of data and evidence as the status quo in his administration. From revealing his "Bold New Vision" for the city of Jackson to the signing of an executive order to create an open data policy, the mayor has committed to bringing big data to the "Bold New City."

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