Paterson one of only 55 cities in the U.S. to achieve What Works Cities Certification
By GABRIELLA DRAGONE
PATERSON, NJ – The City of Paterson has announced that it has achieved What Works Cities Certification in recognition of its exceptional use of data to guide decision-making and improve residents’ lives. What Works Cities Certification – the national standard of excellence in data-driven city governance – evaluates how well cities are managed by measuring the extent to which city leaders incorporate data and evidence in their decision-making. What Works Cities Certification, a national Bloomberg Philanthropies initiative led by Results for America, has awarded Certification to 55 U.S. cities for outstanding data practices since 2017.
“Paterson is honored to join the more than 50 cities recognized with What Works Cities Certification for incorporating data into our crucial local government work,” Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh said. “We are proud of our Chief Data Officer, Harsha Mallajosyula, in his work with the innovation team. His role has allowed us to build a culture around data, optimizing our data governance and analytics practices, and applying data-driven approaches to address our city’s most pressing challenges. We are excited to continue innovating our data programs, engaging with partners, and expanding access to municipal data in order to provide a better service for our residents.”
What Works Cities Certification assesses cities based on their data-driven decision-making practices, such as whether they are using data to set goals and track progress, allocate funding, evaluate the effectiveness of programs, and achieve desired outcomes from contracts with outside vendors. The program also measures whether cities are publicly and transparently communicating about their use of data and evidence. Each city that participates in Certification receives a customized city assessment that highlights their unique strengths and opportunities for improvement. What Works Cities partners then provide coaching, training, and technical assistance to help city leaders improve their data and evidence capabilities, embrace new practices aligned to the Certification standard, and drive outcomes for their community.
Over the past year, Paterson has demonstrated measurable progress on these foundational data practices. Some notable examples of the city’s use of data include:
Public facing COVID-19 dashboard that tracks caseloads and St. Joseph’s University Medical Center occupancy.
Public facing Paterson Plus dashboard that tracks the City’s responsiveness to community complaints received via the Paterson Plus application.
The Paterson Coalition for Opioid Assessment and Response (COAR) is using data to inform the development and implementation of targeted interventions to address the City’s opioid epidemic. Data-driven, human-centric interventions are then operated on the ground by the City’s Opioid Response Team (ORT), which comprises specially-trained EMS, Police, and Social Work professionals. They are trained to proactively support individuals in the areas that are hit the hardest by opioid overdoses by providing information on addiction services.
Since the Certification program launched in April 2017, U.S. cities with populations of 30,000 and higher have been eligible to participate. Cities are awarded Silver, Gold, or Platinum Certification depending on their level of data sophistication. Fifty-five cities have achieved Certification.
“Cities using data are more resilient and able to respond in crisis situations,” Lauren Su, Director of What Works Cities Certification said. “Paterson has done an outstanding job of using data to better understand the scope of the opioid crisis and to better target their opioid overdose response, the whole spectrum of how they serve their residents. This is what excellence in data-driven government looks like.”
Paterson is proud to join an elite group of cities leading a growing movement of data-driven decision-making in jurisdictions around the country. A report released last fall by the Monitor Institute at Deloitte, in collaboration with What Works Cities, detailed the increase in cities using data to drive decision-making and the benefits of this approach for residents. Since 2015, the percentage of cities tracking progress toward key goals has more than doubled (from 30% to 75%), the percentage of cities engaging with residents on a goal and communicating progress has more than tripled (from 19% to 70%), the percentage of cities with a platform and process to release data to the public has more than tripled (from 18% to 67%), and the percentage of cities modifying their programs based on data analytics has more than doubled (from 28% to 61%). These are several of the data practices assessed as part of What Works Cities Certification.
Certification was developed by a team of experts from Results for America in close consultation with the What Works Cities Certification Standard Committee and with support from other What Works Cities partners – The Government Performance Lab at the Harvard Kennedy School, The Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University, and The Behavioral Insights Team. Over 200 cities have completed a Certification assessment, benchmarking their practices against the national standard.