Innovation and Data Use in Cities

A Road to Increased Well-being

image of Innovation and Data Use in Cities

This report is a first-of-its-kind work to provide evidence on how cities’ investments in innovation and data use can pay off in powerful ways for residents. It offers analysis on the different ways local governments build capacity at the strategic and technical level, from organisational structure and strategy, to resource allocation and outcome evaluation. It shows that cities with higher public-sector innovation capacity and data use practices have higher levels of city and life satisfaction. Furthermore, when looking across key well-being dimensions from housing to environment, health and walkability, cities with higher innovation capacity and data use practices outperformed cities with lower capacity. The lessons in the report have been distilled into 10 recommendations to help local leaders boost their data use and innovation capacity to improve resident well-being.


Executive summary

Innovation and data-use have proven to be vital tools in cities’ responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. The use of innovation tools such as experimentation, digital services, human-centred design, real-time data sharing and alternative communication channels in day-to-day operations and management became widespread in response to the pandemic. And just as innovation and data use have played a role in response measures, they are also playing a role in recovery efforts and building resilience, helping localities address long-standing inequalities exacerbated during the pandemic, ensuring better access to vital goods and services, reinforcing the need to shrink digital divides, and moving local governments towards a more sustainable future.


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