Posted: 30 Jun. 2021 2 min. read

Closing the Data Gap

How Cities Are Delivering Better Results for Residents

By Rhonda Evans, Ph.D. and senior manager, Tony Siesfeld, Ph.D. and managing director, and Mario Zapata Encinas, consultant (Deloitte LLP)

Monitor Institute by Deloitte, in collaboration with What Works Cities (WWC), has just released a report that details how a growing movement of local government leaders embracing data-driven practices has improved cities and the lives of residents around the country.The achievements over the last five years are substantial—but in so many ways, cities are just getting started.

The data-driven movement that began in just a handful of cities six years ago has now spread far and wide. Hundreds of cities, both large and small and in every region of the country, have embraced a new approach to local governance. City leaders and staff are moving beyond old practices based on precedent or instinct. Instead, they’re using data to make more effective operational, programmatic, and policy decisions. And residents are reaping real benefits, from improved services to greater visibility into how their local government works.

As cities use data to inform decision-making, they can better determine the needs of their residents, be more inclusive of resident feedback, and more comprehensively tackle complex issues. In our research, we found consistent evidence that cities in the WWC community2 are increasingly using data to tackle resident issues in new ways, and that this data-driven approach is leading to improved outcomes for residents.

These improved outcomes include results such as reduced emergency response times, more expansive public transit options, fiscal support for vulnerable populations, improved access to digital broadband, increased housing stability, greater opportunities for small business growth, and increased access to quality educational opportunities for low-income families. For example, 60 percent of city officials surveyed in the WWC network reported improved emergency response times, and 70 percent reported that their cities are more systematically allocating resources to respond to the COVID-19 crisis.

Cities in the WWC network have also made progress across four foundational data practices for government efficiency in the last several years:

  •  Performance management: The percentage of cities monitoring and analyzing their progress toward key goals has more than doubled (from 30 percent to 75 percent)
  • Public engagement: The percentage of cities engaging with residents on a goal and communicating progress has more than tripled (from 19 percent to 70 percent)
  • Releasing data: The percentage of cities with a platform and process to release data to residents has more than tripled (from 18 percent to 67 percent)
  • Taking action: The percentage of cities modifying existing programs based on data analytics has more than doubled (from 28 percent to 61 percent)

The results: Greater transparency around how and why decisions are made, more effective and efficient operations, and improved services. More than half of survey respondents also reported improving their use of data to make more equitable budget decisions, award city contracts and/or shift procurement dollars to increase impact per dollar, and deliver city services more efficiently, effectively, and/or equitably. This kind of progress builds residents’ trust in government and better outcomes.

To read the report and see examples of cities transforming government practices, click here.

1Monitor Institute by Deloitte researched and wrote this report, in collaboration with What Works Cities.

2Since 2015, WWC has provided a growing national network of cities with technical assistance, standards of excellence, and peer learning opportunities to support the adoption of data-driven approaches. See the Appendix for more about WWC. 

Monitor Institute by Deloitte

Monitor Institute by Deloitte's multidisciplinary team brings a diverse blend of cross-sector experience, and a balance of analytic capability with sensitivity to the workings of human systems.