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How city governments can set-up a benchmarking program, at lowest cost

Data for city planning, city master plan preparationCity Government operates in a world of competing demands, tight budgets, and increased competition between cities for jobs and investment.

Useful performance data available to cities is scarce however. Most data is national, and in some cases, states. Even then, assuming this can be localized it is statistical data. Statistical data does not always reflect actual performance, and worst of all it is not benchmarked against other competing cities.

As the Innovation Economy grows, in a networked world, cities that identify opportunities and enable their local business to succeed, will build a network of dynamic communities.

When the Mayor, councillors or City Manager asks how ‘did we do’ there is no definitive benchmark against other cities. Whilst you can commission an individual report such reports are a) costly ($10,000s) and b) limited in number of cities compared and c) open to allegations of political interference (due to the conflict of paying for the report).

Answering media requests for information can be difficult with us an opinion or sound-bite — and without an authoritative city benchmarking number.

City Benchmarking Data by 2thinknow was designed to answer the question ‘how did we do’?

2thinknow data does this by measuring cities on 162 standard city indicators. City indicators are innovative equivalents to the traditional business measure, Key Performance Indicator — so well understood by business, investors and journalists alike. These indicators are the largest set available — all other competing programs offer only 22 or 40, in many cases incomplete civic statistics that are out of date.

Benchmarks are not statistics.

A city benchmark is a comparative measure that illuminates city performance. Like a traffic light report, what you want to know is which areas are below and above the competitive threshold for selected cities you compare yourself with.

For Mayors, city managers, urban planners, communication professionals and those tasked with changing cities, it makes sense to know how you actually perform before you start. Investing time and energy in changing aspects of your city which are globally above benchmark, may not be required.

The idea of change can be overwhelming unless it is broken down into industry and community segments. 2thinknow data-set measure 31 segments across all major cities and larger towns. Each city indicator addresses a single segment. Meaning a segment has between 1 and 14 city incicators of data.

Segment benchmarks look at a city, given the unique strengths and weaknesses of a city for specific industry and community segments. And when measuring these industry and community segments, examine these in comparison with other competing cities.

Time to measure and improve performance.

Right now some cities have old decaying industries, other cities are over-reliant on service economy, yet other cities have created an economic miracle (for now). In the global financial crisis of recent years, any economic success has glistened more — as economic opportunities have retreated.

Data to enable change projects.

As the centre of community business, and a hub for discussing local economic performance the city government needs to be aware of, support and enable local change.  Often arguments for economic  answers, descend into opinions — especially on less clear-cut projects. And the issue is opinions do not require facts, data or numerical certainty.

That’s where city benchmarking data is important.

Argue the benchmark, not the opinion.

2thinknow City Benchmarking Data™ is, as explained, a complete benchmark of city performance on 31 industry and community segments. We use 162 city indicators in a standard ‘Single City Data-set’.

Whilst a similar benchmarking exercise with a consulting firm would cost USD $15,000 or $50,000 or even more, we offer chambers of commerce an affordable alternative.

Best of all, this data is independent and standardized against all other cities, using our benchmark cities process for 289 identified ‘key’ cities.

A Single City Data-set for your city fully benchmarked costs only USD $3,900, right now for a complete analysis of your city.

That is only USD $24 per indicator, far lower than the cost of collecting such economic and social data. (Think about it, one person collecting data on one indicator — e.g. wireless internet and comparing it to 15 cities. This would cost more than $24.)

We can achieve this through our large data set and community graduate analyst programs (all our junior analysts have masters degrees average age 31, and live in Australia).

Best of all all data is 100% transparent. Each data point (2-4 per indicator) is clearly linked to a specific source such as government, U.N., IMF, ILO, World Bank, The Times, FT, WSJ — or in cases where such data is not enlightening, a city-level calculation of national data or analyst data combined with ‘story’ data from multiple viewpoints. It’s all clearly identified on each slide and row of data.

What’s included with the Single City Data-set:

Technically, that includes:

  • 31 segments
  • 162 city indicators
  • Average 2+ evidence points for each indicator
  • 31 segment graphs
  • 162 indicator graphs comparing to other cities
  • PowerPoint slide decks for all of the above
  • PDF explanation of all 162 City Indicators & 31 segments
  • Slides for each indicator and each segment.
  • PLUS A 1 page dashboard of city performance.

That’s well over 500 slides, plus a PDF, and Excel data (usable in a database) all ready-to-go.

That means you can choose which slides to present your change argument. With each slide attributed to a specific source, including URL, there is less need for supporting information. It is all ‘ready-to-go’ for decision-making, presenting, and influencing.

With all that data ready-to-go, you can quickly argue a cogent rational case for change, or reward the city for above benchmark or out-performance.

NOW: Select your own cities!

Plus, right now, City Government can select their own up to 15 comparison set cities. This means you can choose almost any major city to be compared with, or we can recommend the city.

A sub-set of 5 of your 15 comparison cities are used on each graph, as comparative benchmarks. So for each City indicator, you will be compared against 5 competing cities.

So if you are competing against another city for business and economic opportunities, now you have metrics to show your relative performance. And argue why it’s great, adequate or needs change performance. City benchmarking data is not available for free on the internet. It is only available for purchase, and s updated continually.

More importantly, the segmented approach to innovation removes innovation from being a concept, and turns it into a structured approach.

Why is City Benchmarking Data so needed now?

Most statistics are national. Almost all ‘free’ data on the internet is national. And the city data you can find will not be accurate or checked. And the city data also may not be current. And then you have to translate the raw data into something meaningful.

And it still does not benchmark — tell you how well you are doing against other cities.

All 2thinknow City Benchmarking Data is standardized across multiple cities, even though you only pay for your city.

The established independent city data program.

And the program started first beta release in 2008, from data collected in 2005, so the City Benchmarking Data program by 2thinkow is well established. Whereas other economic city data programs have not yet commenced, or are tied up in intergovernmental and university bureaucracy. When they do commence they will only contain data that is statistical, and needing interpretation. It will not be ‘ready to go’.

2thinknow City Benchmarking Data is totally independent of global organizational politics. Many intergovernmental city data programs are impacted negatively by political interests, not standardized across cultures and beholden to various national or organizational interests.

An example fo this is the CPI and unemployment rate measure. This is why an increasing number of publicly-traded corporate clients comparing cities as investment destinations are inquiring about 2thinknow city benchmarking data. To compare and measure cities.

We do publish a free Innovation Cities Index a ranking of cities for innovation. This however is based on a ‘weighted’ set of City Benchmarking Data and does not tell you how well your city does in each segment, or strengths your city can manage to can improve. The weightings mean city performance can change from year-to-year as segments become more (or less) important. An example is the reduction of importance in print media or, now, financial services in recent years.

City benchmarking data gives you raw performance data, and all evidence gathered by our expert innovation analysts to benchmark performance of your city.

By measuring and comparing city performance using benchmarking data you can identify social and economic opportunities, as well as areas where a longer-term management strategy may be better suited.

Start today.

All for USD $3,900, fixed price all inclusive, full and comprehensive benchmarking for 31 industry and community segments and 162 city indicators.

Contact us — and measure your city today.

Do not miss the economic opportunities of the Innovation Economy in 2011 and beyond! Once you contact us, a senior Innovation Analyst will give you a call in your office, to discuss your order and select your 15 competing cities comparison set.

Purchase orders, requisitions, checks, credit cards and other methods accepted.