What Works City Feature: Long Beach, CA

Using data to build better economic development opportunities

The Opportunity
The City of Long Beach has a history of leveraging new and innovative ways of improving the lives of their residents, the success of their businesses, and the outcomes of their youth and education institutions. The City was an early adopter and participant in many national programs that align data with key outcomes. This includes the Data-Driven Justice Initiative, which uses data from across criminal justice and health systems in order to connect individuals with health, behavioral health, and social services, with the goal of reducing overreliance on emergency services and encounters with the criminal justice system. Additionally, working with Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Innovation Teams program, the City has instituted a user-centered design approach to problem-solving.

Mayor Robert Garcia, City Manager Patrick West, and their leadership teams have been vocal about prioritizing and raising the profile of data-oriented work in the City and have made it a priority of their administration. As such, staff regularly identify ways that they use data in their day-to-day jobs, but the organization as a whole has not comprehensively identified departmental goals and related metrics, nor has it systematically aligned departmental work to citywide strategic priorities in a way that allows leadership to clearly track movement toward the goals of the City.

To help move in that direction, Mayor Garcia and City Manager West asked What Works Cities to help improve Long Beach’s use of data and evidence by upgrading its data management and performance analytics practices in order to provide better support for current and prospective local businesses. They wanted to focus in particular on business licensing and permitting in order to simplify processes that may hinder the ability of city staff or entrepreneurs to get businesses up and running.

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 Long Beach’s Innovation Team and its Technology and Innovation and Economic Development teams to increase their ability to boost economic development opportunities, create efficiencies for city staff, and be effective stewards of data. This would ideally elevate public trust and transparency within the City around how they are helping potential and existing businesses succeed.

What Works Cities and Long Beach worked together to help potential and existing local businesses succeed.

Summary of Key Accomplishments
This work on data management and performance analytics lays the groundwork for the City to incorporate data and evidence in further aspects of its decision-making. Specifically, the work was targeted at leveraging the City’s existing data to ensure that businesses currently located within the city could continue to thrive and succeed by focusing on improving the business startup process. What Works Cities and Long Beach worked together to accomplish the following:

1. Established a data governance workgroup
• Identified key decision-makers and managers to discuss how the City’s data can be analyzed to improve decision-making related to policies and programs.
• Established a data learning community to share best practices for data analysis across departments.

2. Strengthened strategic performance goals and metrics on better business practices
• Identified and engaged stakeholders across the City in how to improve and set goals for the business startup process.
• Inventoried available data to determine what metrics should be the foundation of assessing the City’s performance.

What’s Next
With this work, Long Beach has prioritized using data and evidence to deliver improved results for its residents. Long Beach has deployed data-driven solutions such as dataLB, Bizmap, Bizport, and crime incident mapping. In particular, the City will continue to expand this work internally, including through regular performance management meetings and revising its data inventory. To reach this goal and properly support new and existing entrepreneurs, these initial efforts should continue to be focused on business startups. Long Beach can expand this work to other priority areas with the help of its Innovation Team and Technology and Innovation Department.

Finally, there is an opportunity to elevate Long Beach’s efforts externally by sharing the results of this work with the public and continuing to engage the community. The City is currently exploring and inventorying its communications platforms, and will be mindful of its data-related work when making future decisions about technology investments and methods of engagement.