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How can cities use data to advance equity in service delivery?

Drawing on environmental, health, mobility, housing, and socioeconomic variables from CalEnviroScreen and the United States Census, SanDiego’s 2019 Climate Equity Index aimed to inform city planning and community engagement activities to address climate change and climate justice. Other municipalities, like the City of Seattle, have produced similar equity indices, such as the Racial andSocial Justice Index from the Office of Planning and Community Development. The City of Oakland likewise produced city-wide Equity Indicators in 2018 that serve as a quantitative baseline for understanding the impact of race and ethnicity on seventy-two metrics of resource allocation, quality of life, opportunity, and other outcomes.

The Possibility Lab is partnering with California 100, San Diego’s Office of Race and Equity, and San Diego’s Performance and Analytics Department to explore new, data-driven models to increase equity in city service delivery. Building on the city’s previous work identifying opportunities to advance equity, as well as the deep expertise of the San Diego equity and data analytics teams, this partnership will create and deploy city-wide equity indicators related to measures of performance around city services.

We will then support community organizations and city agencies in embedding these indicators into service delivery and business processes. Specifically, we will work with teams across the city to source new ideas for how to increase equity, pilot those ideas within the city, and rigorously evaluate their ability to “move the needle” on equity as measured by relevant indicators.

In this way, equity indicators can serve as a quantitative baseline for, among other things, understanding and tracking the impact of race and ethnicity on various metrics of resource allocation, quality of life and opportunity, as well as connecting and evaluating the activities of service providers and municipal departments to those universal goals. San Diego intends to bring together quantitative equity indicators, city staff, a city-wide Strategic Plan, and coordination with community organizations in order to build the necessary infrastructure to sustain this effort over time. We hope this partnership will serve as an exemplar for communities and public entities across the country who are seeking to redress deep-seated structural and historical inequities through data-driven innovation around core public service delivery.

This project was made possible with funding from California 100.