June 1, 2017Op-ed

SmartCitiesDive: What Works Cities’ Simone Brody on innovation, data and ‘celebrating the best’

by Jackie Snow

Local/ What Works Cities/ 2017/

There is no hard and fast rule for what makes a city smart, but one group is trying to help certify cities that have a smart policy for their data.

Launched by Bloomberg Philanthropies in 2015, What Works Cities is a national initiative to help 100 mid-sized U.S. cities better use data and engage residents. Its focus on mid-sized cities — 100,000 to one million people — helps highlight manageable smart city projects for wide swatches of American cities that might not have the resources or scale of New York or Los Angeles.

However it was clear that more cities wanted specifics on data practices and benchmarks to compare their efforts. So, What Works Cities announced a certification process where any city with a population over 30,000 is eligible to apply. In the first round, 200 local governments filled out a questionnaire about their open data policies, data governance, performance analytics, results-driven contracting and how they’ve repurposed resources after results. Later this year, after an evaluation of applicants’ efforts, high-achieving cities will be awarded with silver, gold, or platinum certification.

Smart Cities Dive caught up with Simone Brody, the executive director of What Works Cities, to learn about the certification process, open data and what states and the federal government could learn from the cities that are becoming smart.