The San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation

By Gordon Feller

Gordon Feller is the Co-Founder of Meeting of the Minds, a global thought leadership network and knowledge-sharing platform focused on the future of sustainable cities, innovation and technology.

Nov 6, 2012 | Smart Cities | 0 comments

Click the video above to hear San Francisco’s Chief Innovation Officer, Jay Nath, talk about the Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation.

There's really nothing quite like it inside the hundred upon hundreds of US city governments: The San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation (MOCI) utilizes government as a platform for innovation. What exactly is MOCI, and what's it really doing?

The Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation is...focused on solving problems through city and citizen collaboration.

MOCI works with San Francisco residents and local creative / tech-minded communities to collectively design solutions and new approaches to what we might call the "big hairy problems". Through partnerships with both private and public organizations, MOCI is working to create community-sourced solutions that improve the efficiency and accessibility of government. MOCI also leverages their national and international networks to increase collaboration — with the goal of sharing best practices between governments and other organizations.

The Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation is working on several distinct projects – all of them focused on solving problems through city and citizen collaboration.

First, MOCI is working with city agencies and department to help facilitate the release of government data. This “open data policy,” which San Francisco has officially instituted, provides new opportunities for both government and the citizenry: enhanced government transparency and accountability; development of new analyses, applications and civic tools; increased civic engagement; social and economic expansion; increased government efficiency and more effective delivery of civic services.

As stipulated in San Francisco's Open Data Policy, the city is drafting rules and standards for all departments to follow when publishing data to the city’s dataset clearinghouse, DataSF. As part of this process, MOCI has conducted extensive user research with department data publishers so that their experiences to date can inform the policies which San Francisco creates.

Among their open data efforts, MOCI is working with the San Francisco's Board of Supervisors to transition to searchable PDF formats for all meeting agendas, minutes, and associated documents posted on the their website. MOCI is also leading an effort - in partnership with cities across the USA - to launch cities.data.gov, a centralized portal for city data sets.

Second, MOCI organizes regular “hackathons,” which bring together citizen-developers to build apps around San Francisco’s open data. These hackathons are not just a model for civic-citizen problem solving, but also for economic growth. MOCI uses key partnerships to help accelerate the process of deploying prototypes and creating products. For example, MOCI is currently working with The HUB, the Bay Area's leading co-working space, to create a civic marketplace focused on going from “hackathon-to-market.”

The first test case for MOCI’s policies will be ImproveSF, an online civic engagement platform. ImproveSF brings together community members and government officials to problem-solve civic issues in San Francisco. Users can submit, comment, and vote for ideas. Winning ideas are implemented in the community through partnerships with key private and public organizations.

ImproveSF was built out of the belief that the best way to tackle challenges that affect the community is with the community itself as the agent of change. By using a platform that allows members of the community to contribute from their own homes and on their own schedules, MOCI believes that San Francisco will be able to engage a broader audience. With this broader audience comes a broader range of ideas, solutions, participation, and an improved San Francisco.

In the first two months alone, over 1200 residents signed up for ImproveSF, and over 1000 comments were made - helping users refine their ideas to create stronger civic solutions. One of the first challenges posted to the ImproveSF site asked citizens for ideas on how to improve access to healthy, fresh food for residents of the Central Market/Tenderloin neighborhoods. By addressing the need to store and cook fresh and nutritious food, we could help improve the access to food and reduce malnutrition in these neighborhoods. For the many of these residents this is a real challenge that offers substantial benefits to their daily lives.

Visit the ImproveSF website to find out the results of this challenge, and use the comments below to share your impressions of the Mayor’s Office for Civic Innovation.

Discussion

Leave your comment below, or reply to others.

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Read more from the Meeting of the Minds Blog

Spotlighting innovations in urban sustainability and connected technology

3 Lessons from Chula Vista to Help Clarify A Smart City Vision

Collaboration extends beyond City Hall. Unlike a city like New York, where most government functions are under the purview of the municipal government, a city the size of Chula Vista (population 268,000) or smaller has to collaborate with regional partners, such as school districts, hospital districts, water districts, the port district, and neighboring cities. By keeping dialogue open and working together on major projects we’ve opened up new opportunities for economic development, smart cities pilot initiatives and education.

Autonomous London

AVs can move more people in fewer vehicles on less congested streets compared to private cars. This means that some London streets could be made narrower and spare street space can be reallocated for other uses including bus lanes, cycling lanes, or expanded pavements. Street space can also be released for vegetation, allowing for cleaner streets and better storm water management.

California’s 2018 Climate Action Breakthrough

The 40-million people of California are not only growing the world’s fifth largest economy, they are accelerating the transition to use 100 percent renewables in less than 30 years. Recent success, shows that reaching 60 percent renewables for energy will be achieved and an enormous win for slowing global warming, improving health, efficient economy. Beyond 60 percent, there are several paths to carbon neutrality.

Share This