Sioux Falls selected to join ‘What Works Cities’ initiative


SIOUX FALLS (KSFY) – Sioux Falls has been selected to join a nationwide program to improve how cities share data and public information practices.

“This is an exciting opportunity for Sioux Falls,” said Daren Ketcham, Director of Community Development for the City of Sioux Falls.

The project is known as the “What Works Cities” initiative. Mayor Mike Huether announced Tuesday that Sioux Falls was one of five cities added to the program.  

Altogether, 85 cities have been selected to take part in the initiative, funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, out of 100 total. The last 15 will be selected over the next year.

“Out of the 85 that have been selected there have been more than 200 applicants so this is not something that just everybody gets to be part of, this is highly competitive,” Ketcham explained.

According to city officials, as part of the What Works Cities initiative, Sioux Falls will improve open data practices to make public information more accessible and to engage residents around government priorities and services.

“[Right now] if I need crime data, I would contact … the police department, if he’s out of town, I have to wait a week for that information. Well, he’s out of town for a week, so let’s just roll with it,” said Adam Roach, Neighborhood Development Coordinator for the City of Sioux Falls.

This new initiative will change that.

“So this would house that information in one portal where we can analyze that data and make decisions off that rather than taking our time,” said Roach.

Mayor Mike Huether said using data this way is something businesses do every day that can also be applied to city government.

“You do realize you can bring those same practices you use in business put them in government and you get great returns instead of for your shareholders, for your citizens,” Huether explained.

The project will include creating an inventory of the city’s data resources; developing a plan for data governance; making data available to the public and City staff in a more useful and responsive way; and helping City staff to maximize the use of data in their daily work.

‘What Works Cities’ is a philanthropic initiative so they’ll foot the bill for trips to Sioux Falls and the guidance they provide. The city said they couldn’t put a price tag on that assistance, but if they had to hire consultants, it probably wouldn’t be feasible.

The new data initiative will roll out in increments, according to Ketcham. He said the first increment includes neighborhood services such as police, fire, code enforcement and public housing, to name a few.

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