Arlington is the First Texas City to Receive the What Works Certification

Arlington just became the first Texas city to receive the What Works Certification, an award designed to evaluate how well cities are managed through innovative use of data and resident-focused programs.

Specific qualifying points are reviewed in-depth when awarding this certification, and the programs and city management in place in Arlington offered a compelling case for the city to become the 13th municipality to receive the title.

One of the biggest accomplishments the city was recognized for was the use of data to secure federal funding for residents’ and visitors’ transportation needs through a partnership with the rideshare company Via. To date, more than 156,000 trips have been made using this affordable, on-demand service since its launch 15 months ago.

Specifically, the City of Arlington was recognized with the What Works award thanks to the multi-departmental Data Governance and Innovation team’s adoption of an open data policy to promote and incorporate resident feedback.

This data governance has informed multiple City decisions, including:

  • The ongoing development of the Open Arlington portal, currently offering 39 data sets including interactive maps and water use, all segmented by Zip code
  • A greater emphasis on incorporating data in articles, videos and social media to communicate accurately and insightfully on public issues
  • The quick response to changing technologies, particularly to answer resident questions, including the City of Arlington Alexa integration and Street Tracker app
  • An ongoing push to uncover opportunities for partnerships with researchers, developers, entrepreneurs and even students to evaluate real-world applications of open public data

What Works Cities Certification

The What Works City Certification evaluates cities on factors including: whether they have staff dedicated to helping departments use data to track development and resident needs; past performance of these data programs; keeping key data open to the public; and providing transparency in goals and the progress toward them. Eligible cities must also demonstrate active policy that manages risk associated with data use and storage.

The certification program went live in 2017. Cities are awarded silver, gold or platinum certifications, depending on their level of data sophistication. Arlington was the first Texas city to receive the certification, and received a silver award—one of just seven cities to receive the award this year after assessing 90 cities around the U.S.

“We are proud to join a very small number of cities across the country who have achieved What Works Cities Certification,” said City Manager Trey Yelverton. “The taxpayers invest a lot in various technology solutions that are intended to help us manager our resources.”

And, without a doubt, those investments have paid off—not only for the honor of this award, but also for Arlington resident satisfaction and access to services.

To date, a total of 13 cities have received the certification: Arlington, TX (2019 Silver), Boston, MA (2018 Silver), Kansas City, MO (2019 Gold, 2018 Silver), Los Angeles, CA (2018 Gold), Louisville, KY (2019 Gold, 2018 Silver), Memphis, TN (2019 Silver), New Orleans, LA (2018 Silver), Philadelphia, PA (2019 Silver), San Diego, CA (2018 Silver), San Francisco (2018 Silver), Scottsdale, AZ (2019 Silver), Seattle, WA (2018 Silver), and Washington, DC (2019 Gold, 2018 Silver).

Bloomberg Philanthropies

“Data helps city leaders understand problems and measure success, and it helps citizens hold government accountable for meeting public needs on all the big challenges we face,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, three-term Mayor of New York City and founder of the Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Bloomberg set a new national standard for this certification through recognizing excellence in city governance. The organization also helps cities use data more proactively to evidence their most pressing challenges, ultimately improving residents’ lives. The What Works Cities Certification has been called the first of its kind.

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Nikki Frisby
Nikki is an Arlington, Texas native who loves finding hole in the wall restaurants, exploring new cultures, and listening to live music. She is currently a marketing and management double major at the University of Texas at Arlington who is involved in the Goolsby Leadership Academy, American Marketing Association, and LGBTQA Program. As a Yelp Elite member she supports local business and is always up to try new foods.