A Closer Look at Digital Advancement Progress across the U.S.
We're thrilled to return with new insights from the Muni Index V2.0! Utilizing the approach developed by our partner Dr. John Horrigan and our V1.0 team, the updated index integrates new data into our existing dataset, featuring refreshed data from 2021 for 540 cities!
As described in our very first insight blog, the Muni Index measures a city's trajectory toward enhancing life quality through the lens of leveraged investments in technology and is based on the following premise –
Expansion in the availability, adoption, and quality of digital tools is the foundation for a vibrant and growing city, but digital access and affordability work jointly with other factors that influence quality of life.
The newest iteration of the index relies on the same 16 indicators within the groupings of Technology, Socioeconomics, Education, and Housing, and continues to highlight that there is measurable progress toward achieving shared prosperity when cities guide their investments in tech and core social programs to build pathways for economic mobility. We’re excited to share examples of cities that are demonstrating just that.
Updated Scores + Examining Trends
The new data provided us with three main takeaways:
1. Overall, cities are gaining progress toward Digital Advancement.
2. The cities with the highest scores remain unchanged from 2019
3. The most improved cities hail from southern states, with medium-sized populations that range from 65,000 to 250,000.
1: Over 250 cities witnessed an uptick in their Digital Advancement Scores.
257 cities saw their scores improve, while 282 experienced a decline. The average change rate from 2019 to 2021 reflects a positive 11.2%. The comprehensive scores are readily available on our main page, enabling you to check, search, filter, and compare the cities that pique your interest.
2: The cities with the highest Digital Advancement scores in 2019 remain unchanged.
Five cities from California—Fremont, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Milpitas, and Mountain View—continue to dominate the top spots, although with some fluctuations across indicators.
3: The most improved cities hail from southern states.
Five southern cities with medium-sized populations ranging from 65,000 to 250,000 made the most progress toward digital advancement. Jackson, TN, Brownsville, TX, Portsmouth, VA, Jonesboro, AR, and Rock Hill, SC, were among the most improved cities showing the highest change rate. Jackson, TX’s score increased slightly over 12% since 2019. Following closely behind, Brownsville, TX, experienced an 11% increase in its overall score, mainly due to its improvement in the technology category. Scores for both Jonesboro, AR, and Rock Hill, SC, improved by just over 10%, with Jonesboro seeing a 10.8% increase from 2019.
Population Impact: Trends over Four Years of City Scores
We analyzed changes in city scores over four years, focusing on different population sizes. Figure 3 illustrates trends in muni index scores from 2017 to 2021. Notably, cities with 150,000 to 250,000 residents (0.15%) and those with over 500,000 residents (0.34%) saw significant improvements. Most categories showed consistent median scores, with minor adjustments. Larger cities, with over 500,000 residents, displayed a slight but noticeable upward trend in median scores, indicating positive growth in municipal performance.
Figure 3 suggests a notable pattern in the distribution of scores across cities of different population sizes. In 2017 and 2021, cities with populations ranging from 150,000 to 250,000 exhibited a relatively concentrated distribution of scores, indicating consistency in scores among cities of this size. In contrast, cities with populations exceeding 500,000 show a dispersed score distribution, particularly in 2021, suggesting that larger cities don't share a common score pattern. This variability may reflect a wider diversity in factors that contribute to the scores, as opposed to the more homogenous characteristics of smaller cities.
So what does all of this mean for your city?
The new data and insights together underscore a clear imperative for continued efforts by municipalities to leverage public investments in tech alongside social programs. While cities have indeed made strides to recognize the significant role that technology plays in building an inclusive economy and to begin investing accordingly, it's crucial for them to now to work to strengthen the connection between digital adoption and factors like socioeconomic conditions, housing dynamics, and education systems, among others.
Ready to tell your city’s story? Join us our movement for Digital Advancement and help us build inclusive economies and prosperous cities! Reach out to explore opportunities to shape your city's narrative with data from our index! We look forward to hearing from you!