Press Release - October 2, 2019

San José Becomes First City in U.S. to Use Data as Impartial Lens to Equitably Deliver Resources

City launches Social Progress Index, a new tool to ensure that the most pressing needs of the community are identified sooner and responded to more equitably.

San José, Calif, – Today the Social Progress Imperative and Mayor Sam Liccardo announced the launch of the Social Progress Index in San José. This tool uses data to identify community need more objectively. The tool will allow the city to better understand and respond to community needs, develop better policy, design better programs and more equitably distribute resources.

San José becomes the first city in the country to adopt the index.

“It is only natural that the capital of Silicon Valley would be the first city in the country to use data to put an impartial measurement on needs to implement policy more equitably, as it offers a lens into where community needs are,” said Mayor Sam Liccardo. “The Social Progress Index will be a catalyst for community conversations on how we can better deliver resources to improve, support and build our neighborhoods to the benefit of all San Joséans.”

The Index helps communities discuss and isolate their most significant challenges and identify opportunities to address them by telling a more complete story about their experience and highlights possible solutions. For instance, the Index helped the city learn that less than half a mile apart, two neighborhoods in San José are ranked 1 and 167 respectively in social progress.

The San José Social Progress Index uses verifiable, credible, and contextually relevant indicators, such as housing, educational attainment and access to opportunity, which are pinpointed down to the census tract or zip code. It includes a multitude of local, state, and federal data sources examining forty-two social and environmental indicators from over 50 data sets to identify trends and gaps throughout the city.

“For too long the discourse in the US, and the world, has been driven by a limited definition of progress. While economic gain has certainly lifted many out of poverty and provided pathways to opportunity, it has also provided a distraction from ensuring that economy works for everyone. Eliminating those barriers is the first step to thriving communities – and this tool can help San José leaders identify them quickly. Imagine what this valley can do with a more precisely tuned balance of social progress and economic muscle,” shared Michel Green, CEO of Social Progress Imperative.

The San José Social Progress Index is improving every day with community suggestions for additional indicators that should be included, identifying data sources that meet the criteria, and to have indicators and data sources that truly reflects San José's character and community.

“While we’ve long understood the potential of the Social Progress Index as a practical tool for quantifying advancement towards the Sustainable Development Goals on a national level, what’s become increasingly clear is the value of SPI as a tool on the sub-national level,” said Tim Carlberg, Principal at the Skoll Foundation. “The flexibility of its conceptual framework makes it particularly useful for policy making at the local level. We are proud to support SPI’s city-level pilot programs and we’ll be watching the San José initiative closely for lessons learned.”

Representatives from the city will be in the community in the upcoming weeks to find out how San Joséans are using the tool and gathering ideas for applications in an effort to create a resources guide so San José can again share their forward-looking ideas with the rest of the country.

“Silicon Valley Community Foundation is proud to support the City of San José and Mayor Liccardo’s initiative to create the Social Progress Index,” said Gina D. Dalma, Senior Vice President for Public Policy at SVCF. “We are confident that this tool will lead to more effective distribution of resources and ultimately improve the lives of San José residents.”

The Social Progress Index uses data visualization technology called Power BI from Microsoft to help reveal better insights into the city and aligns with the City's Smart City Vision to be more data and evidence base.

“Microsoft is committed to empowering communities and nonprofits to realize the promise and potential of technology,” said Microsoft Director of Technology and Civic Engagement Sid Espinosa. “We are excited to partner with the Social Progress Imperative and the City of San José to put this tool into the hands of decision makers and the public to help the city utilize data to more effectively respond to the community’s needs.”

View the index at spisanjose.org

About Social Progress Imperative:
The Social Progress Index is produced by the Social Progress Imperative, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit redefining how the world measures success, putting things that matter to people’s lives at the top of the agenda. Guided by a scientific team led by Professors Michael E. Porter of Harvard Business School and Scott Stern of MIT, the Social Progress Imperative strives to improve the lives of people around the world by fostering research on societal health and using data to catalyze action. Learn more at socialprogress.org.

About City of San José
With more than one million residents, San José is one of the most diverse large cities in the United States and is Northern California's largest city and the 10th largest city in the nation. San José's transformation into a global innovation center has resulted in one of the largest concentrations of technology companies and expertise in the world. In 2011, the City adopted Envision San José 2040, a long-term growth plan that sets forth a vision and a comprehensive road map to guide the City's anticipated growth through the year 2040. Learn more at sanjoseca.gov.

About Silicon Valley Community Foundation
Silicon Valley Community Foundation advances innovative philanthropic solutions to challenging problems, engaging donors to make our region and world better for all. Learn more at siliconvalleycf.org.

About Skoll Foundation
The Skoll Foundation drives large-scale change by investing in, connecting, and celebrating social entrepreneurs and innovators who help them solve the world’s most pressing problems. Headquartered in Palo Alto, the Skoll Foundation has invested approximately $530 million worldwide, including the Skoll Award to 135 social entrepreneurs and 111 organizations on five continents. Learn more at skoll.org.

About Microsoft
Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more. Learn more at microsoft.com