Some good news: After a successful early pilot program, Mayor de Blasio is setting out to learn if better lighting in the city’s public housing reduces crime. This next phase isn’t just good for New York City Housing Authority residents and visitors. It shows how using data to drive city policy can work.

Friday, de Blasio and NYCHA announced that they would test investments in NYCHA properties intended to curb criminal activity and scale up the most effective programs.

The test will come in the form of a study of 400 new street and sidewalk lighting improvements across 40 developments. Consistent with the Manhattan Institute’s proposal last November in the Daily News, this expansion will include testing of different types of lighting improvements in these developments in order to determine which are most effective in reducing crime on NYCHA property.

It’s not just a bright idea because lighting is a cost-effective way to reduce crime and disorder. It reflects a sharp understanding of how public policy can emerge not from ideology, but from intelligent real-world experimentation.

Violent crime in NYCHA began to rise through the end of Mayor Bloomberg’s term and the first year under de Blasio. In response, the city announced the Mayor’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety in July 2014. It brought new mobile street-lighting, CCTV cameras and more police officers to 15 high-crime public housing developments.

By November last year, it was possible to evaluate the change in violent crime in the group of 15 developments against the rest of NYCHA. The results in my report evaluating the plan for the Manhattan Institute were promising, finding an 8% reduction in violent crime in the 15 developments versus a 2% rise in the rest of NYCHA through November 2015.

Unfortunately, as I pointed out in the report, the city deployed similar resources to each of the developments. It missed a chance to send some developments one mix of treatments, while comparable developments received a different mix. With such an approach, the city could have been able to figure out which treatments are working and worth scaling up.

Read the whole piece here at New York Daily News