Former Mayor Launches New Municipal Data Initiative at Harvard’s Kennedy School

April 19, 2013

By Katherine Hillenbrand

Stephen Goldsmith, the former mayor of Indianapolis and deputy mayor of New York City, has launched a new website, "Data-Smart City Solutions," in order to catalyze local government efforts to implement data, analytics, and civic engagement technologies that transform the way government operates. The initiative is based at the Ash Center at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, where Goldsmith is currently the Daniel Paul Professor of Practice and the Director of the Innovations in Government program. 

Mobile devices, cloud computing, data mining techniques, social media, digitized records, and other technologies have set the stage for a wholesale change in government. The combination of insights from data and a new level of collaboration with citizens offers the ability to make government far more effective, efficient, and proactive. The possibilities touch every aspect of governance:

  • San Francisco's Shared Youth Database integrates data on youth clients across the child welfare, mental health and juvenile justice systems to identify those who are at elevated risk and empower social workers to intervene early. (See the story on "Getting Big Data to the Good Guys.")
  • Los Angeles and Seattle have implemented predictive policing techniques, using highly-tailored historical data to rellocate police resources and reduce crime.
  • Louisville is piloting the use of GPS-enabled inhalers to record incidents of asthma and, through mapping and analysis, better identify unhealthy buildings and point-source air pollutants.

Data-Smart City Solutions will explore these and many other applications of data and analytics. The site will house case studies, best practices, and curated resources to spur replication of model initiatives and highlight success stories. It will serve as a resource for government officials and others interested in this developing field. 

For more information, visit www.datasmartcitysolutions.org and register for an upcoming webinar that will be held Thursday, April 25, at 2:00 p.m. ET on "Data Analytics: How Cities Can Get Ahead of the Curve to Improve Performance."  Stephen Goldsmith will join city and corporate representatives as a panelist for this webinar, which will be hosted by NLC, PTI, and the Ash Center.

Katherine Hillenbrand is a research assistant at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.