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The Data Brigade of Tulsa, Oklahoma

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.
Tulsa's team of volunteer data analysts mapped water main shut-offs in city tracts to help predict moves in and out of the community.
Tulsa's team of volunteer data analysts mapped water main shut-offs in city tracts to help predict moves in and out of the community. Urban Data Pioneers

Politicians have an agenda; data doesn’t. That’s the ethos behind Tulsa Mayor G. T. Bynum’s effort to shape the Oklahoma city’s policies using statistics collected by a team of his own citizens.

Bynum, a Republican, ran on this platform under the shadow of the 2016 presidential election—against an incumbent whose campaign characterized Bynum as liberal in contrast to the standing mayor’s strong conservative vision. “What if, instead of responding with partisanship, we responded with a focus on results?” Bynum recalled thinking, in a TED Talk a year later. “And so we decided to respond not with a negative ad but with something people find even sexier—data points.”