The city of Charleston is proud to announce that it has been awarded the Bloomberg Philanthropies What Works Cities Certification, which sets the standard of excellence for data-informed, well-managed local government. It received the honor alongside just seven cities nationwide and is one of only two U.S. cities to achieve certification under the rigorous set of new criteria.
Since its inception in 2017, only 62 cities have achieved this distinction.
Among a number of ongoing data-driven initiatives, the city developed and adopted the following programs and practices, which contributed to its certification:
- FloodStat: The city created and implemented this flood performance management program that uses data to inform how the city prepares for and responds to flooding and sea level rise. One outcome has been standardizing the collection and storage of data related to car rescues during flash flooding events. This data has helped city staff and first responders take a more collaborative approach to prevention planning. Additionally, by equipping first responders with tools that allow them to track and compare details on flood rescues, they can continue to strengthen their prevention strategy and response.
- TIDEeye: This web and mobile-friendly tool tracks the latest local weather and tidal conditions, as well as their impacts on traffic patterns and road closures, in order to help residents better monitor and prepare for changing weather conditions. For ease of use, TIDEeye utilizes the National Weather Service’s established color palette to indicate data values that may require close attention.
- HousingStat: Charleston developed this cross-departmental performance management program to take a comprehensive look at local housing challenges to determine actions that will be most effective in creating a more affordable, fair and stable housing market. To track its goals and progress, the city has implemented a dashboard that measures how programs are helping to close the housing gap.
- Community Engagement: The city is also prioritizing engagement by hosting public meetings to discuss progress and gather resident feedback. FloodStat and HousingStat meetings are open to the public, and the city hosts an annual Open Data Day program to inform residents of the benefits of open data and showcase how data is being used by the city and the community.
“From keeping our citizens safe during periods of severe weather to making sure they have access to housing they can afford, these are the are kinds of improvements that make a real difference in the quality of life here in Charleston,” said Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg. “We’re honored to have been recognized for all our efforts, and are committed to continuing the remarkable progress we’ve made in the years ahead.”
Rochelle Haynes, Managing Director of What Works Cities Certification, said, “Under the new criteria, these cities have shown that they’re not just leading with data—they’re using data to make lives better by prioritizing equity and resident wellbeing. Leaders from the seven cities join hundreds of data champions in our Certification community, where they will continue to grow their data practices, share innovative ideas, and inspire communities at all points on their data journey.”
James Anderson, who leads the Government Innovation program at Bloomberg Philanthropies, said, “The Bloomberg Philanthropies What Works Cities Certification continues to raise the bar for policymakers committed to leveraging data to understand community needs and deliver on resident priorities. We’re proud to welcome these newly Certified cities into this fast-growing international community and see the use — and impact — of the What Works Cities’ standard of excellence expand and improve lives.”
Aires, Argentina; Córdoba, Argentina; Fortaleza, Brazil; Mogi das Cruzes, Brazil; and Montevideo, Uruguay also achieved certification in this round, and are the first five South American cities to do so. Carlsbad, C.A. also received the honor.
The What Works Cities Certification program is open to any city in North, Central or South America with a population of 30,000 or more. To learn more, visit whatworkscities.org.