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Denton, Waco among cities chosen for $42M Bloomberg better-data initiative

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NEW YORK (AP) — Thirteen cities from Anchorage, Alaska, to Waco, Texas, are getting a hand from former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to make better use of data.

Bloomberg Philanthropies announced Thursday its latest round of “What Works Cities” selections. The $42 million program ultimately will provide 100 U.S. cities with expert help to make data publicly accessible, incorporate it better into decision-making and evaluate programs.

The first eight choices were announced in August.

In addition to Anchorage and Waco, the newcomers include Cambridge, Massachusetts; Denton, Texas; Denver, Colorado; Independence, Missouri, and two cities in Washington state: Bellevue and Tacoma. They’re joined by Lexington, Kentucky, St. Paul, Minnesota, Las Vegas and two California cities: San Jose and San Francisco.

“They understand that data is a tool that every city can use to improve public services, and our What Works Cities initiative will help them do just that,” Bloomberg said in a statement.

The new winners will work on issues including economic development, job creation, public safety and affordable housing. Some are set to make more data publicly available, others will work on tracking progress toward goals, and still others will use data to evaluate programs and contractors’ performance in new ways.

The initiative is open to U.S. cities of 100,000 to 1 million people. More cities will be chosen through 2017.

Bloomberg made his fortune in from financial data and information, and he put a swath of city data online while mayor from 2002 through 2013.

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