One year after the launch of Bloomberg Philanthropies What Works Cities, a "national initiative to help 100 mid-sized American cities enhance their use of data and evidence to improve services, inform local decision-making and engage residents",  the initiative is already making an impact, says James Anderson, who oversees Bloomberg Philanthropies' Government Innovation programs.

In his opening remarks at the Summit on Transforming Data Into Action,  the first annual What Works Cities Summit hosted in New York City, Anderson said that the initiative was helping to build up the capacity of cities by getting better at using data as evidence. 

While the Open Data Initiative, which encourages government organizations to provide public access to data which previously was accessible only to government employees for the purposes of both transparency and innovation, has gained significant momentum on a global scale over the past five years, the push to harness that data for insight into the health of a community as well as the progress and outcomes of government initiatives is, to some, a daunting but obvious next step. 

The What Works Cities Initiative has already spread across 27 cities and serving a total of 11 million people with economies totaling $38 Billion, says Anderson. 

To kick off the initiative's first summit, the former mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, shared some thoughts with the audience mostly comprised of mayors, administrators, government technologists and initiative leadership members. 

As part of the leadership team representing my own city of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and as part of the APPCityLife civic technology team working to help cities not only solve problems through data and mobile but better understand the impact and gaps of those solutions, it is exciting to see this conversation taking place on a larger scale. We can do more with our data, and making sense of the impact of what we are doing in cities is an excellent start to creating sustainable, replicable solutions with cities across the globe.