It is easy to look at the data-driven management successes of place like Chicago or New York and conclude that the sophisticated application of data analytics requires the urban scale and resources of a big city. The story of Jackson, Miss., population 173,514, and its dramatic ramp-up of the use of data use to tackle the city's problems in the past year belies this assumption.
When Mayor Tony Yarber took office in 2014, he was the Mississippi capital city's fourth mayor in two years. Jackson was confronted with a declining population, crumbling infrastructure and limited financial resources. But Yarber was determined to build a better city using data. He was one of the first mayors to apply and see his city selected for Bloomberg Philanthropies' What Works Cities initiative when it was launched in 2015, which giving the city access to expert technical assistance in the uses of open data and performance management.