What Works City Feature: Gainesville, FL

Using data to chart a course for a new American city

The Opportunity
For Gainesville, Florida, being a citizen-centered city is a priority. Mayor Lauren Poe and City Manager Anthony Lyons have created opportunities to collaborate with residents when developing innovations and determining how the City sets its goals.

These opportunities are anchored to what the City refers to as four main guiding questions helping Gainesville work toward its goal of becoming a “new American city.” These questions ask city leaders to build a Gainesville with (1) a strong economy, (2) a better future for each and every resident, (3) greater equity, and (4) that acts as a community model that creates space for ingenuity and partnerships.

However, the City’s ability to use data to measure its progress on meeting these goals was limited. As the City began to relaunch a strategic planning process, Mayor Poe and City Manager Lyons asked What Works Cities to work alongside their team to help improve the City’s use of data and evidence to evaluate the community model priority. Gainesville’s objective was to measure the performance of the City in creating space for ingenuity and partnerships with key stakeholders, such as the University of Florida, and continuing to engage its resident base in city operations.

Our Work Together
What Works Cities experts at the Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University and Results for America worked with the City of Gainesville to improve its use of a data as a strategic asset for producing reliable measurement and insights to improve the effectiveness and equity of service delivery. Additionally, the City revised its framework and performance management practices in order to increase staff’s use of data in decision-making and public engagement.

What Works Cities and Gainesville worked together to improve the use of data and evidence in evaluating the City’s community model priority, which aims to create space for ingenuity and partnerships.

Summary of Key Accomplishments
This work in data management and performance analytics lays the groundwork for the City to incorporate data and evidence in further aspects of its decision-making. What Works Cities and the City of Gainesville worked together to accomplish the following:

1. Learned to leverage data as a strategic asset for measuring progress and engaging stakeholders.
• Established a data governance team, processes, and resources to ensure data guides departmental decision-making.
• Began a comprehensive inventory of the City’s data resources, ensuring it is responsive to the priorities of key city stakeholders like the University of Florida.
• Streamlined the release of data onto the City’s open data portal, increasing its use by the public and city employees.

2. Used performance data to better measure how the City is creating space for ingenuity and partnerships.
• Improved the City’s performance management practices by developing a core goal and discrete priorities for the program.
• Developed a draft “Community Model” index made of appropriate metrics and measurements from across departments that can begin to help show how the City is answering its guiding questions.

What’s Next
With this work, Gainesville made significant strides toward using data and evidence to deliver improved results for its residents. The City will continue to build on this work by replicating the processes of developing, evaluating, and monitoring its other three guiding questions. By aligning key metrics and goals to those priorities, Gainesville will empower residents and city employees to engage more deeply in future plans for the city.