Tulsa's Data-Driven City Hall Gets International Recognition

May 17, 2018

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum holds the city's Engaged Cities award with Cities of Service founder and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Credit City of Tulsa

City Hall’s efforts to get Tulsans’ help to solve problems gets international recognition.

The city’s Urban Data Pioneers program helped Tulsa win a Cities of Service Engaged Cities Award. Through the program, more than 120 residents have used data to tackle issues like prioritizing street repairs, collecting blight data and identifying the biggest drivers of per capita income.

"Tulsa has shown that humility is a key part of true leadership. When a mayor and his staff reach out to their people for help, together they can move the city forward faster and more effectively," said Cities of Service Executive Director Myung J. Lee in a statement. "Rather than worrying about job titles and getting held up by bureaucracy, they came together with their citizens to investigate the data to make the city work better."

Some of the award’s $70,000 prize will be put toward training for Urban Data Pioneers.

"We want to continue to build their skill set as a group, and then we’ve also committed to packaging this program and taking it to five other cities around the United States and helping them replicate it," said Mayor G.T. Bynum.

Tulsans will soon benefit from one product of the Urban Data Pioneers’ work that considers how things like utility needs and economic development potential should factor into when street projects get done.

"As we get ready to do our new street program in 2019, the citizens, for the first time ever, will have a device at their disposal where they’ll be able to put different weight on different areas of focus for those street projects," Bynum said.

Other Urban Data Pioneers work has looked at the biggest drivers of per-capita income and developed a tool to crowdsource data collection on blight.

Bologna, Italy, and Santiago de Cali, Colombia, were the other cities recognized out of more than 100 applicants.

"It’s a huge honor for Tulsa to win an international competition like this against some of the largest cities in the world, and that’s exactly where I want Tulsa to be, leading the way. And we are," Bynum said.