D4GX 2018 Keynote: Cities Show the Promise of Our Data for Good

Bloomberg Associates' Rose Gill Hearn

The theme of Data for Good Exchange 2018, to be held on Sunday, September 16, 2018 at Bloomberg’s Global Headquarters in New York City, is “Our Data for Good?” Fittingly, Rose Gill Hearn, a Principal at Bloomberg Associates (BA), will be using her keynote address to highlight examples in which city data – everyone’s data, really – is being used to help make city governments and their agencies more efficient and responsive to their citizenry and businesses.

Before joining BA, Gill Hearn was Commissioner of New York City’s Department of Investigation (DOI) in the Bloomberg Administration from 2002 to 2013, and her experience there continues to inform her work. “My background is in dealing with corruption vulnerabilities,” she says. “Most of that exists where there are bureaucratic inefficiencies and very little transparency. Through the D4GX program, we have been able to help several cities harness and publish data that has been empowering for the public and led to the creation of tools useful to city managers for promoting integrity and better service delivery.”

BA, a philanthropic consulting service established by Michael Bloomberg following his mayoralty in New York, works with city governments in the U.S. and around the globe to make data more accessible over the long term. The firm provides consulting expertise across eight domains, working with mayors to determine the best way to leverage a city’s data in order to positively impact the quality of life of their citizens.

“Based on our experience in New York City government during the Bloomberg Administration, BA is able to support our city clients in tackling a wide array of challenges,” says Gill Hearn. “These can run the gamut from figuring out where a city should offer tax credits, to assessing traffic patterns in order to prevent pedestrian fatalities, to tackling inefficiencies that breed petty corruption in hospital emergency rooms.”

Gill Hearn’s team at Bloomberg Associates has worked with the “D4GX Immersion Day” program over the years to develop four municipal data tools that are relevant to the attendees at this year’s Data for Good Exchange conference.

The BA team worked with Rio de Janeiro to overhaul the City’s procedures for obtaining a business license, bringing the previously paper-based application system online. Through the 2016 D4GX Immersion Day program, the team then developed an easy-to-use dashboard that permits city administrators and the business community to see where business licensing activity is taking place throughout the city. This data dashboard promotes competition, helps entrepreneurs make business decisions, and assists the city with its economic development planning in an informed way. It also opens a rare window into the licensing process for citizens, especially those who may be interested in starting a business. In just one year, Rio de Janeiro saw a large increase in the granting of business licenses, fewer opportunities for bribery, and a tax windfall worth more than $2 million.

A dashboard developed in collaboration with the City of Bogotá, as part of the 2017 D4GX Immersion Day program, enabled the City to harness and understand the data from tens of thousands of calls it receives from citizens each year. The goal was to analyze citizen complaints, questions, and requests so that the city could find more efficient ways to inform citizens and resolve their problems more quickly.

Gill Hearn is keenly aware of how difficult it can be to amass the political will to make that sort of information widely available. “This tool is not a ‘gotcha,’” but rather an important mechanism for the city to be more responsive to citizen needs and concerns,” she says.

As part of last year’s D4GX Immersion Day program, a KPI dashboard for the Mayor of Paris was prototyped, providing an important tool for the city to measure service delivery in categories of importance.

For this year’s D4GX Immersion Day project, Gill Hearn’s team has developed a dashboard with the City of Milan, Italy, which they are excited to present as part of a panel at the 2018 conference. The dashboard harnesses Milan’s CRM data, and will be forecasting it going forward, creating a valuable tool for deploying resources that are responsive to citizen requests.

“For three years in a row, the Data for Good Exchange has enabled Bloomberg Associates to help cities around the globe identify important underutilized data and propagate it into data tools for better operational and management decisions,” Gill Hearn said. “These are tools that are generating tax revenue, increasing municipal service delivery in measurable ways, and creating more windows for the public into the tremendous work being done by city governments on their behalf.”