Tulsa's Urban Data Pioneers

Tulsa's Urban Data Pioneers program puts together teams of city employee and community volunteers to tackle specific challenges through data analytics.

Tulsa wins Engaged Cities Award for data-driven innovation | July-2018 |
TulsaPeople Magazine
Citizens Are the Key to Creating Smart Cities – Next City
Sponsored: Why Tulsa's Urban Data Pioneers program won the 2018 Engaged Cities Award.
The Secret Weapon of Tulsa's Republican Mayor - CityLab
The city’s Republican mayor was elected on a platform to govern by data. Now, he's deploying volunteer analysts to execute on his vision.
G.T. Bynum: A Republican mayor's plan to replace partisanship with policy | TED Talk Subtitles and Transcript | TED
TED Talk Subtitles and Transcript: Conventional wisdom says that to win an election, you need to play to your constituencies' basest, most divisive instincts. But as a candidate for mayor of Tulsa, Oklahoma, G.T. Bynum decided to skip the smear campaigns, tell voters what he wanted to accomplish and give them ways to measure his success -- and it led him to win the election. In a hopeful, funny talk, Bynum shares how he's tackling his city's most pressing issues and says that we need to set aside philosophical disagreements and focus on the aspirations that unite us.
Award program seeking community-led transformation opens for second year | StateScoop
Cities of Service has announced its “Engaged Cities Award” program is coming back in 2019.
  • The Urban Data Pioneers program empowers teams of volunteers – both city employees and community members – to tackle specific challenges with data science.
  • 120 people responded to the mayor’s initial call for volunteers.
  • Over the course of 10 weeks, each team takes a deep dive into city data to assess a problem and identify solutions, with results presented in a visual analytic report.
  • The project has enabled data-driven decision-making to better address challenges such as the city’s high eviction rate.
Project Summary
When Mayor Bynum was elected in 2016, he had ambitious plans to drive improvements throughout Tulsa by leveraging the city’s vast data volumes. However, the local government lacked the resources to pursue large-scale data science projects in-house.
The solution was the Urban Data Pioneers (UDP) initiative: a program that puts together teams of city employee and community volunteers to tackle specific challenges through data analytics. The city’s initial call for volunteers saw 120 people sign up for the program.
Tulsa created a new City Hall department to manage the initiative, which splits volunteers into smaller cohorts and assigns each a predetermined topic based on city priorities. Each cohort includes at least two data scientists and a subject matter expert, while the remaining team members come from a variety of backgrounds – including city employees, university students, local tech entrepreneurs, and more.
Cohorts spend 10 weeks on a project, and the end result is a slide deck that aims to visualise their findings. The slide decks are presented to city department directors and posted online, and the most pressing topics are passed on to the city council and the mayor.
Already, UDP teams have helped Tulsa find solutions for numerous challenges, including 911 response time, violent crime rate, school spending, evictions, and more.
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James Alfano

Founder and CEO


In Progress
🏅 Awards
Tulsa Office of Performance Strategy and Innovation
Urban Data Pioneers Program
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