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Making Smart Cities Even Smarter

Smart cities are all the rage these days. The term is ubiquitous and local government leaders, policymakers, and practitioners can hardly go a day without hearing it. While smart cities focus on data, sensors, or AI, all of which will have huge impacts on the future of cities, they are missing a fundamental point–we need people to fully realize the value to this technology.

All work with data and technology is channeled through people. Undoubtedly, to be a “smart city” means maximizing the ability of its people to use data and technology to improve lives. In order to have even smarter cities, we need to build and use the collective capacity of people to use data for public good. Leaving people behind at the expense of technology can no longer be an option.

That’s why the Johns Hopkins University Center for Government Excellence (GovEx) is investing in data training and skills for government through GovEx Academy. We know from our work around the world that building data skills can produce real results in the public sector. This was true in Memphis, Tennessee, where a participant who took our Foundations of Advanced Analytics course identified a community’s serious garbage pick-up problem by conducting an exploratory analysis on local 311 data. Or in Boulder, Colorado, in which an introductory to open data course participant was able to revamp his department’s data inventory strategies, ultimately leading the city to meet its program goals.

These stories show what’s possible when government employees have access to low-cost trainings that are tailored to their needs. Our courses and trainings focus on three key areas that are practical and immediately useful: data management, data use, and data communication.

  • Data Management courses cover the foundational structures needed to get the most out of your data like data governance, data standards, and open data.
  • Data Use courses hone skills like applying data analysis, management of advanced analytics projects, and managing the use of algorithms.
  • Data Communication courses ensure government staff know how to tell stories with data and engage with communities to help advance data work.

Building these critical skills allows government employees to harness the power of data and technology and immediately apply it in their work to serve people in their communities.

And while industry terms focus on smart “cities,” we know these issues don’t just relate to cities. County governments need additional support and investment to accelerate progress in key service like human services and criminal justice. State governments manage billions of dollars in programs that could be improved with more investment in their employees. And many other institutions outside of government like nonprofits and neighborhood organizations can add to the collective capacity of their communities to use data if provided with quality training. Empowering more people to make decisions with data will help governments and communities accelerate the public good.

GovEx Academy is actively partnering with leading philanthropies, governments, and NGOs to deliver online courses and on-site workshops to government employees around the world. If you are interested in joining this movement please contact us or check out available courses at GovEx Academy today. If you work for a city in the US, you can get free access to training by completing a What Works Cities assessment, so get started today.

We look forward to working with you to make cities, and other governments, even smarter.

If you or your government are interested in training courses, or you want more information on enrollment, email us:


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