North American City Reports preserves the full text of surveys, budgets, statistical records, case studies, planning documents, training manuals, policy guidelines, reports, and news from the five hundred largest cities in North America. It also includes select materials from hundreds of related agencies and non-governmental organizations. With more than 200,000 documents, it provides a new and typically unmined source for observing policy in action.
The larger cities are monitored for added items weekly, others monthly. A community feature of the Commons platform is an upload tool, and members are encouraged to add reports from smaller cities and other municipal organizations that they would like to preserve and keep safe forever. The result is a constantly growing archive, focusing on years 2000 forward, which adds more than 20,000 new reports each year.
North American City Reports includes and expands on the well-known Index to Current Urban Documents (ICUD). From 1972 onwards, ICUD captured thousands of city reports, many of which city agencies don’t keep. Few sources have such current, detailed, fact-based information. Rich in statistics, the documents provide practical examples of what policies work, along with hard evidence. From coastal erosion to vehicle emissions, the issues addressed by municipal policies provide a window into historical attitudes, actions, and outcomes.