The U.S. Department of Housing Preservation and Development has announced that a consortium including NYU Wagner Innovation Labs will serve as the first National Resource Network Administrator under the White House Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) initiative. The SC2 Network, funded with HUD technical assistance resources, will provide communities with targeted technical assistance to help support locally identified priorities for economic growth and job creation.

In addition to NYU Wagner Innovation Labs, the consortium includes Public Financial Management, Enterprise Community Partners, HR & A Advisors, and the International City/County Management Association.

For the network's website, please click here.


The National Resource Network, part of the White House Initiative on Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2), along with NYU Langone Medical Center and NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service have launched the Municipal Health Data for American Cities Initiative. With funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, NYU will be developing a first-ever dashboard for essential health data for U.S. cities. Four cities – Flint, Michigan, Kansas City, Kansas, Providence, Rhode Island and Waco, Texas – will work with NYU to pilot the effort.

The Municipal Health Data for American Cities Initiative will frame federal and county data at the municipal level, extract key benchmarks that are embedded in existing city-level data, and create entirely new indicators through big data and social media activity. Health measures will be developed based on input from city leaders, federal data providers, data experts at NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP), and other experts in urban health metrics. The list of measures will be finalized by this spring and an interactive website will be available this fall.


  • Primary goals

ENABLE cities to compare progress and performance on shared metrics in order to:

  • Galvanize municipal-level action for health
  • Support cities already pursuing a health agenda
  • Catalyze others to take action
  • Secondary goals
    • Explore the feasibility of providing measures at the neighborhood level for cities
    • Identify innovative measures that might extend beyond those commonly used to assess health and health equity


  1. Establish inclusion criteria for candidate measures
  2. Compile candidate measures
  3. Refine and finalize set of core and supplemental measures
  4. Build prototype City Health Dashboard (CH-Dash)
  5. Populate CH-Dash with core metrics for 4 cities
  6. Prepare a fully scoped work plan to scale CH-DASH nationally

The four cities were selected for the pilot project in part because of their participation in the National Resource Network or other parts of the federal SC2 initiative and their commitment to addressing local health challenges. The cities will work together as a peer network and help to inform the process and ensure that the metrics selected for inclusion in the dashboard are useful, innovative and actionable for city leaders.

Flint, Michigan – In its application to participate as a pilot city, the City identified additional health concerns including obesity and maternal, infant, and prenatal health issues including low birth weight and premature deaths. City leaders are also interested in examining the local food system, housing quality, public safety, educational support, workforce opportunities, and transportation systems as they work to address Flint’s health issues. Currently, Flint is facing a public health crisis in connection to lead levels in its water supply. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has provided technical guidance on lead health issues to Flint and the State of Michigan. In addition, HUD has created data fields in its grants management data system so the State, one of HUD’s lead hazard control grantees, can track outreach and enrollment for lead hazard control work in homes of families with water-related concerns. The SC2 initiative has supported Flint by assigning a community solutions team to the City. Additionally, the SC2 federal team on the ground will extend its two-year engagement beyond June through the end of 2016, continuing to focus on economic development while also supporting the broader federal response effort.

Kansas City, Kansas – Governed under the Wyandotte County Unified Government, Kansas City struggles with a number of socioeconomic challenges, including poverty, unemployment, low graduation rates, food deserts, and housing that is either inadequate or insufficient. In the urban core, access to healthy foods is a particular concern. Kansas City leaders plan to use city health data to inform their efforts to make the city more safe and livable. They are also interested in using social media tracking to identify health topics by neighborhood. The Network has supported the city in its efforts to develop an innovative Healthy Campus in downtown Kansas City.

Providence, Rhode Island – Providence is Rhode Island’s largest and most ethnically diverse community. The City’s residents face health challenges including high chronic disease and related risk factor burdens that disproportionately affect Providence's low-income residents and communities of color. Providence plans to employ population-based strategies based on the data that focus on high-risk, vulnerable groups, and that expand the reach and health impact of improvements across sectors. The Network is working with City officials to develop a ten-year financial plan with a goal of both balancing the budget and improving quality of life.

Waco, Texas – Waco identified access to care, obesity, women’s health, and mental health as the community’s top health concerns. The community is lacking in data about mental health. Community leaders are interested in progressive ways to analyze mental health from innovative uses of social media to gauge the mental state of the community, as well as ways to better gauge the city’s walkability and perceived safety. The Network is working with City officials and community stakeholders in support of Prosper Waco, a public-private collective impact initiative designed to reduce poverty by improving education, financial security and health outcomes.

About National Resource Network

The National Resource Network is a component of the White House Council on Strong Cities, Strong Communities Initiative, and is a $10 million technical assistance program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Network is being implemented by a group of leading experts from the private and public sectors, including Enterprise Community Partners, Public Financial Management, HR&A Advisors, New York University's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and the International City/County Management Association. The Network develops and delivers innovative solutions to American cities to help them address their toughest economic challenges. More information about the National Resource Network is available online at You can also follow the National Resource Network on Twitter @NatlResourceNet.

About the Department of Population Health at NYU Langone Medical Center

The Department of Population Health at NYU Langone Medical Center unites the fields of medicine and public health to improve the health of populations in New York City and around the globe and to educate students to become leaders in healthcare delivery, health policy, and public health. Partnering with colleagues at NYU Langone, NYU Lutheran, Bellevue Hospital, and diverse community and private sector organizations, the Department conducts basic and applied research to improve the quality and effectiveness of healthcare and to prevent and better manage disease. Trained in diverse disciplines, the Department’s more than 60 core faculty and 200 dedicated staff specialize in research areas including: healthcare delivery science, health economics and policy, epidemiology, biostatistics, medical ethics, early childhood development, community health and health equity, decision science, and tobacco, alcohol, and drug use prevention and treatment. For more information, please visit:

About the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at NYU

NYU Wagner has been educating and preparing the world’s future public service leaders since 1938. Our students translate personal commitment into nonprofit, public, and private sector careers that have an impact on the world’s most pressing issues. Our faculty conduct research that changes the way people frame, understand, analyze, and act on issues of public importance. For more information, please visit

About Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. We are striving to build a national Culture of Health that will enable all to live longer, healthier lives now and for generations to come. For more information, visit Follow the Foundation on Twitter at or on Facebook at


NYU Wagner and the Center for an Urban Future published two reports profiling the best policy innovations from cities across the U.S. and around the globe, offering a roadmap to mayors and municipal officials about which policy reforms implemented by cities in recent years have been most effective and have the most potential for replication. Coming at a time when cities have become the clear drivers of government innovation, the reports spotlight on recent municipal innovations implemented in cities ranging from Seattle and Chicago to Memphis and Minneapolis.

The reports, which were funded by Citi Community Development, draw upon hundreds of interviews with mayors, agency chiefs, policy experts, academics, business leaders, labor unions and philanthropic foundations, identifies some of the boldest and most inventive urban policy reforms of the last decade.

To access the full reports, click here for Part 1 and click here for Part 2 or click the images below:

Innovationandthecity.png                                Innovation-and-the-City-Part2.png


Neil Kleiman, Director of NYU Wagner Innovation Labs, outlines the project behind the reports:

Video of the forum:

Jonathan Bowles, Executive Director, Center for an Urban Future

Vishaan Chakrabarti, Partner, SHoP Architects
Linda Gibbs, Deputy Mayor, New York City
Ben Hecht, President & CEO, Living Cities
Hon. Angel Taveras, Mayor, Providence



The NYU Center for Urban Science and Progress and NYU Wagner are working with support from the Kauffman Foundation to create a national network of Urban Data Research Centers that engage cities, researchers, and foundations to build an independent, trusted, and statistically valid basis for decision-making.

The project builds on the current momentum around data analytics in municipal government and on university campuses, with a goal of developing a roadmap to bring two currently separated communities together around results-driven work that cannot be accomplished alone. In so doing, we will:

  • Develop a framework that describes the pathway from identified urban challenge to data analysis to adoption and implementation;
  • Assess the availability and use of city data in key policy areas at both universities and city agencies in 20 cities;
  • Identify data products and prototypes that can be developed around city priority areas;
  • Clarify the barriers that prevent productive partnerships, and detail the steps needed to bring cities and universities together around shared goals and action.

This project aims to bring together two powerful movements taking root in cities across the nation. The first is a growing demand from mayors, city managers and citizens alike for data to improve services and policymaking. Cities have built dashboards, initiated predictive analytics and smart sensor projects to better deploy resources. The second movement is the rise of a new set of data institutes nested within universities that are dedicated to the accumulation and analysis of large and diverse administrative data. These ‘data facilities’ are charting a new type of research that moves away from artisanal and individual scholarly efforts to a more operational, data science focus.

This effort will culminate in a “roadmapping” workshop in Washington, DC on July 11, 20126 with a goal of identifying a pathway to join those two movements. We will determine how an infrastructure can be established to allow cities to address complicated data challenges by building an independent, trusted, and statistically valid basis for decision-making.

We recognize that public officials and universities have rarely worked in concert to address local priorities and challenges. But a foundation has been built. Cities for their part have begun to staff up new data analytic offices and to align traditionally siloed municipal agencies around evidence-based reform projects. Universities such as NYU and the University of Chicago have dedicated staff and monetary resources to construct data facility infrastructure that address issues of storage, provenance and privacy.

Resources are also beginning to be provided by national foundations that are supporting joined-up efforts in many cities across the country. Now is the time to build a roadmap that identifies what cities need in terms of data capacity and ensures that university infrastructure is constructed in response to city priorities and in a way that advances independent research goals.

This effort began in 2014 with funding from the MacArthur Foundation to pinpoint exactly how to construct a national data network. Last year the Kauffman Foundation provided support for the completion of this alignment project. To date, there have been two workshop sessions; one just for cities and one for universities and a phone survey of 20 local government data officers. This process has led to a clear affirmation of city interest in the benefits that can accrue from a city/university data network. Concretely, three key components have surfaced from our discussions as key components of a national data platform. These include (i) a searchable repository of documents and reports that have been produced by cities around urban problems (ii) a collaborative environment in which city/state/federal agency staff and scholars can work together using city data and (iii) a data based R&D sandbox that supports workforce training and education.

At the culmination of this project we expect to produce a clear roadmap that will be used to identify the gaps and opportunities associated with building an urban data network and help guide the focus of philanthropies committed to both place- and evidence-based grantmaking.