Data helps figure out 'What Works' in Syracuse

Oct 27, 2016

The city of Syracuse is expanding its strategy using open source data and technology to solve municipal problems.

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner admits in the beginning she was a skeptic about using data and technology to try to fix nagging issues. But she’s sold on the concept now, after the city’s Innovation Team engaged in a number of initiatives.

"They have shown me that open sourced data can be used to solve problems you didn’t even know had to be solved. And in the coming months you’re going to be hearing us unveil solutions that open sourced data has allowed us to execute," said Miner.

The city has had a number of partners in its drive towards creating a smarter data-driven decision making process -- including IBM, the Aspen Institute and the University of Chicago. Now it’s been selected to join another, a national initiative called “What Works Cities."

“It’s a coalition launched in April 2015 by the Bloomberg Philanthropies. Syracuse is among 16 cities whose selection was announced this week. That brings the total up to 55 and ultimately there will be 100 cities participating in this initiative,” the mayor said.

Miner says “What Works” will help the city compile data about housing, infrastructure and neighborhood issues in particular, and then open the numbers up to the public.

“You make sure your data is clean and usable first and foremost, and then the solutions to the problems that it can be utilized to solve, make themselves available.”

Miner says organizing all the data the city generates has already helped on some fronts. For example it’s allowed water department crews to limiting the scope of some water main breaks.