BUSINESS
19/04/2016 16:46 BST

Sanders And Trump Have Something In Common, Bloomberg Says

"I'm not trying to knock Donald Trump, but..."

Thibault Camus/ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW YORK -- Michael Bloomberg says there's a connection between Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.

The two presidential candidates elude facts and attract voters with rhetoric, the former mayor of New York City said at a keynote speech for a Bloomberg Philanthropies summit Tuesday.

"I'm not trying to knock Donald Trump, but I do think what you're seeing in this election, in some cases you argue on the facts, in some cases it becomes a religion -- the facts don't matter at all," Bloomberg said.

"And that phenomenon, I think, is what you see with Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. It's the same phenomenon," he continued. "People are not happy with their government. It has failed them. It hasn't addressed their needs."

The basic point may not surprise anyone who's followed the long campaign trail this election season. Sanders, who is seeking the Democratic nomination, has recently been criticized -- perhaps unfairly -- for failing to correctly articulate the facts behind his views on big banks. The less said about Republican hopeful Trump's flip-flopping, the better.

But Bloomberg wasn't really talking about the election. The conference Tuesday was a "Summit on Transforming Data Into Action," and his keynote was meant to illustrate how cities and businesses can harness big data to improve communities and help citizens. Bloomberg's point was that most people can't argue with the facts, even if certain leaders might try.

The problems come from cities and the solutions come from cities. If you think about it, the federal government does next to nothing.Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York City

The former mayor has dedicated himself recently to connecting leaders via his What Works Cities initiative, which helps 100 cities across the United States use data to to inform decision-making. 

"Fifty percent of the people in the world live in cities, going toward 70 percent," Bloomberg said Tuesday.

That's relevant, he said, because it means city leaders are behind some of the most important decisions in the world.

"Climate change, all of the problems come from the cities, because it's people who use things. If we generate electricity 1,000 miles away and it pollutes the air, all the energy is used in the cities," Bloomberg explained. "The problems come from cities and the solutions come from cities. If you think about it, the federal government does next to nothing."

Data is where cities can find solutions. For example, Bloomberg said health records helped New York City understand that a lot of people were getting treated for salmonella in hospitals. In response, the city in 2010 instituted a grading system for restaurants that weighs certain violations -- vermin infestations, for example -- to determine whether an eatery receives an A, B or C.

"People don't go to a restaurant where they have a C, maybe a B," Bloomberg said. "Restaurants all of the sudden started cleaning up their kitchens."

The proof is in the pudding, so to speak: Salmonella infections reportedly dropped 14 percent in the first year after New York instituted the new system, though a small uptick followed from there.

Bloomberg hopes to spread solutions like this elsewhere.

"It's very hard, unless you're Donald Trump, to argue that something is working when the data shows it's not," he said.