The city has adopted the cloud, made data available to the public and private sectors, and is training and hiring more programmers.
As the site of Apple’s latest event and home to 30,000 tech jobs (and counting), San Francisco is definitely a tech-friendly and tech-centered place. And it’s only getting more tech-y. On Friday, Mayor Lee of San Francisco announced and made available data.SFgov.com. The city data site is a cloud-based open data site to replace dataSF.org. In addition to adopting the cloud, the site offers APIs available for the public, and more intuitive interfaces for the everyday San Franciscan to interface with the site.
In January, the city created sfCITI, which is a committee that focuses on training and hiring programmers to place within the San Francisco workforce. The rationale is that the committee will update the base infrastructure of the city’s workforce which will only encourage more entrepreneurs to come to the city and boost the local economy.
Last month, sfCITI announced a project called 2012 Innovation Portfolio. The venture will help new business owners complete paperwork with the city, give developers access to city data, and allow new apps to be tested at city hall.
After Friday’s announcement, Lee also said that he aims to make San Francisco “the world’s first 2.0 city.” The goal, Lee says, can be accomplished by adopting the cloud, making data easily passable and accessible between public and private sectors, using the Open Data platform, and implementing new, modern interfaces.
San Francisco also has a Chief Innovation Office, Jay Nath. Nath says that this move towards a more tech-friendly infrastructure can only make everything in the city more cost efficient and will help things move faster. In addition to the data for developers, the site also offers “full-text indexing of every data set’s content.” That will make the search for the whole site incredibly useful and allows for the data to be downloaded into a variety of different formats, for a variety of different purposes.
The Open Data Cloud isn’t just about raw data for developers. It includes graphs and visualizations so any citizen can check out stats from around the city. And of course, all of the information is shareable across social media platforms, to hopefully generate more views for the project. It’s friendly even for the non-technical.
For all the recent news about the project, the push towards an open data infrastructure actually began in August 2009. Since then, the city has seen over sixty apps and two hundred data sets come out of the project. And what’s helping to move this all forward? Wouldn’t you know, a startup all about data sharing called Socrata. Although, for all of San Francisco’s best efforts, this startup is from Seattle, not San Francisco. I’m sure it won’t be long though until there are a number of startups from SF able to help cities across the country move towards this city 2.0 vision.
Socrata is the mechanism that allows the data from data.SFgov.com to be viewed in so many different formats and maybe more importantly, allows those maps, graphs, and data sets to be shared through a myriad of different avenues (e.g. blogs, YouTube, etc.). The company began by setting its sights on helping the public sector. In addition to San Francisco, it has also helped cities like New York, Chicago, and Seattle. It has even breached the federal level by working with FederalData.gov, the United Nations, World Bank, and more.
San Francisco has really done an amazing job staying ahead of the curve. From adopting the cloud two years ago, and now pushing towards a more open exchange between the public and private, it might be safe to say that this really is the nation’s first 2.0 city. Hopefully more cities follow San Francisco’s example and move forward as the private sector has done, to keep their cities relevant. The federal government certainly seems to hope so – it has given SF a $5 million grant to train the southern California city’s workforce for I.T. jobs in particular.
If you’re curious about others ways the government has begun adopting the cloud, check out our blog post “The Government Is Moving to the Cloud, Slowly but Surely.”