Baton Rouge will use data mapping to track the restoration of houses, apartment complexes and other structures after the floods of August 2016 sent water pouring through more than 40,000 residential properties in the parish.

Bloomberg Philanthropies announced Tuesday that Baton Rouge was chosen in its latest batch of five cities for its "What Works Cities" program, in which Bloomberg pairs data experts and local governments to help them sharpen the picture of their most pressing issues. A person working with the foundation will visit Baton Rouge and then remotely communicate with City Hall staffers over the next three to four months about the project measuring what has happened with housing since the flood.

Baton Rouge's project should help city-parish leaders gain a better understanding of how housing recovery efforts are going. City Hall's Geographic Information Systems department mapped damage and debris pickup after the floods last year, estimating that 30 percent of buildings in the city-parish flooded.

“This is an amazing opportunity for Baton Rouge,” Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome said in a statement. “I look forward to our team making the most of this initiative to better serve our residents.”

Finding housing has been a challenge for many in Baton Rouge since the floods. Affordable housing stock took a hit last August, and state recovery programs to increase the number of affordable units are just now ramping up.

The "What Works Cities" project that Baton Rouge is pursuing should also lead to more open data opportunities, according to Bloomberg's description of the city-parish's project, which says City Hall will explore more ways for locals to use government data.

Bloomberg Philanthropies, which was started by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, chooses which cities will participate in the program based on the cities committing to support data-driven work and having the capacity to do so.

"What the philanthropy was hearing for a while was that mid-size cities were saying, 'We hear what they're doing in LA or New York, but we just don't have those skills,'" said Sharman Stein, the New York-based communications director for What Works Cities. "This was designed specifically to help mid-size cities advance their work."

Local governments collect troves of data but often do not know how to use it to find the best answer for their problems, she said.

“Data is one of the best resources at cities’ disposal for effectively solving challenges and driving progress,” said Simone Brody, Executive Director of What Works Cities, in a news release. “We’re supporting city leaders to maximize the use of their data to make more informed decisions, develop stronger programs and services and better serve their communities.”

Dozens of other cities are already participating in "What Works Cities," but the four others chosen in the latest round along with Baton Rouge are Cary, North Carolina; Fayetteville, North Carolina; Winston-Salem, North Carolina; and Hayward, California.

Among their projects are using performance data to improve storm water management; using open data to curb illegal dumping; and creating a citizen contact center.

Follow Andrea Gallo on Twitter, @aegallo.​