San Francisco getting on Open Data bandwagon

150 150 Cheryl Getuiza

The sun rises over the San Francisco bay and the city itself is letting more light in on its government services with new legislation (photo: Flickr/Franco Felini)

A government at your fingertips. That’s what leaders in the city and county of San Francisco hope with new legislation to strengthen the city by the bay’s landmark Open Data initiatives.

San Francisco mayor Ed Lee and County Board of Supervisors president David Chiu recently presented the Open Data legislation to the board. 

The initiative encourages the use of information for more efficient government services.

“Making city data available to everyday citizens will help government explore new solutions to old challenges,” said Mayor Lee. “Changing Open Data policies can unleash the creativity of the private sector so they can help us improve City services that impact our lives, from transportation, to how we access our parks, to how we request city services, making San Francisco the leader in Gov 2.0”

As part of this new plan, San Francisco governments and private industries will partner up. One new partner is Motionloft. The company will contribute a part of their database to the City’s Open Data portal, DataSF. 

“Strengthening our Open Data law will help us use technology to make government more efficient and accountable,” said Board President Chiu. “San Francisco created an incredible model for government encouragement of Open Data, but now we can take our efforts to the next level.”

In fact, the launch of the new Recreation and Parks mobile application is one of many ways that government services are more accessible to the residents. The application helps folks find new parks, give their feedback, and down the line the app will include mobile ticketing and permits.

“The San Francisco Rec and Parks app will bring our parks into the 21st century, helping the public to find a new trail for a hike, the best dog-friendly parks and information on the hundreds of city playgrounds,” said RPD General Manager Phil Ginsburg.

The new initiative also calls for the creation of a new Chief Data officer. The CDO will be in charge of more than 200 public data sets for 60 departments and will be responsible for finding more sets to share.

In 2009, then Mayor Gavin Newsom issued an Open Data Executive Directive ordering City departments to make all non-confidential datasets available on DataSF. 

This new legislation just demonstrates, even more, what it means to be on the cutting edge of government openness and transparency.

“Governments can and should use technology to make sure that people understand how programs are working and how government can do better,”  said Jim Mayer, California Forward’s executive director. “Technology not only changes what is possible, but increases the public’s expectations. They want to use technology to do business with government. They want to use technology to know what government is doing. And they want to use technology to tell public officials what they think.”


Cheryl Getuiza

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