A vote for open data in San Francisco

Last week’s election brought a new party to power in our nation’s capitol and shook up the political landscape in San Francisco. With Mayor Gavin Newsom’s ascension to Lt. Governor of California there is a job opening in City Hall. His election has officially kicked off a process to name an interim mayor and who it’s going to be has been the buzz of the City for well over a year.

With all the changes happening in the City, it is important to make the open government efforts Mayor Newsom has worked so hard to implement a permanent part of City government.

Last year he issued an Open Data Executive Directive asking City departments to provide data to DataSF.org, the City’s one stop location for government data.  To facilitate continued public access to City government, Mayor Newsom introduced Gov 2.0 legislation earlier this year.

Gov 2.0, Please!

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors Government Audit and Oversight Committee took a big Gov 2.0 step forward last month when they voted in favor of Mayor Newsom’s open data legislation and sent it to the full Board with recommendation.  Supervisor Eric Mar and many others have lauded the new policy, highlighting how it will lead to innovation that will improve San Franciscans’ quality of life at no additional cost to taxpayers.

There is already proof of the value of open data in San Francisco.  More than 50 apps, websites and other mash-ups have been created since the launch of DataSF.org in August 2009.  My personal favorite is the EveryBlock service requests feature that rolled out shortly after DataSF.org went live.  EveryBlock built a website that allows visitors to see what people are calling San Francisco’s 311 Customer Service Center about.  Issues are broken down by request type (graffiti, street sweeping, tree maintenance), day, and neighborhood. The site helps visualize what City services San Franciscans are asking for and increases transparency by showing what has been fixed.

Vote for Open Data

Tomorrow, Mayor Newsom’s open data legislation will be in front of the full Board of Supervisors. They have the opportunity to make open data the law in San Francisco.

On the verge of this historic movement, let’s take a look back at how the Gov 2.0 movement started in San Francisco with a tweet to Mayor Newsom about a pothole and where it is going.  Here’s a presentation I gave at U.C. Berkeley last month about open government efforts in San Francisco:

If you support open data sign the twitter petition and if you live in San Francisco contact your supervisor. Then join Gov 2.0 leaders at SF Beta on Tuesday night to hopefully celebrate and talk about the future of DataSF.org.

About Brian Purchia

Brian Purchia is a communications strategist that has led media strategy for politicians, tech start-ups, and Fortune 500 companies. His recent successes include organizing the first mayoral forum on Gov 2.0, SFOpen 2011 and leading communications for Change.org, an online platform for social change. The New York Times says Change.org’s profile “skyrocketed,” with Purchia as Communications Director. From 2006-10, Brian was San Francisco Mayor Newsom’s New Media Director. Purchia was described by the San Francisco Chronicle as Newsom’s “go-to guy for new, and especially social media” for his implementation of a groundbreaking new media strategy called “gutsy” and “brilliant” on NPR. Purchia’s work, described by Craigslist founder Craig Newmark as “genuinely innovative,” led to Newsom ranking as #1 mayor for his use of social media by the leading search engine for finding and tracking consumer-generated opinions, Samepoint. Newsom’s extensive new media operation was used to build the mayor’s reputation as an environmental leader. In 2010, Newsom was selected the greenest mayor for the second year in a row by TreeHugger. Brian was also the driving force behind the nation’s first open data law, open source software policy, and API for government.

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