Month: October 2012

Data Challenge Spotlight: Politify

Politify founders Nikita Bier and Jeremy Blalock.

Politify founders Nikita Bier and Jeremy Blalock.

“Data Challenge Spotlight” is a collaboration with the National Conference on Citizenship and GovFresh that highlights winners of the 2012 Civic Data Challenge. Follow the Civic Data Challenge on Twitter (@CivicData) and on Facebook.



Give us the 140-character elevator pitch.

Politify simulates of the financial impacts of the plans proposed by Mitt Romney and Barack Obama.

What problem does Politify solve for government and/or your community?

Politify allows voters to better understand the policies at hand through personalized reports, allowing them to make more informed decisions at the polling booth.

What are its key features?

Politify itemizes the costs & benefits of each particular policy using interactive HTML5 visualizations — so you know the direct impact of a policy to your household. We also built a geographic heatmap so you can see the best candidate for your community.

How can those interested connect with you?

Interested parties can reach Politify at or by visiting our website at We’re also on Twitter (@politify) and Facebook (




Appallicious joins with SF to launch park and rec iPhone app

Later today, as part of Innovation Month, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee will unveil SF Recreation & Park’s official iPhone App, SFRECPARK, developed for San Francisco by mobile commerce company Appallicious.

Appallicious CEO Yo Yoshida sat down with GovFresh to share how open data efforts made his company possible and what’s next in Gov 2.0.

Give us the 140-character elevator pitch.

Appallicious has created a first-of-its-kind mobile commerce platform, which allows government to create and manage its own custom mobile apps and generate new revenue through ticketing, reservations, permitting and more via mobile devices and web widgets.

What problems does Appallicious solve for government?

Smartphone users will download more than 45 billion apps in 2012, nearly twice the number of apps that were downloaded in 2011.

People are beginning to expect that they can do just about anything on their phone from purchasing tickets to finding the best dog park in their neighborhood to buying a hot dog at a sporting event. Government wants to innovate and provide residents and visitors with easy to use government apps for providing services, but many are still working to develop a website that works.

Government leaders are also trying to figure out more ways to bring in new revenue and optimize existing revenue to departments. Many government agencies are giving hundreds of thousands of dollars away annually to various outside companies that manage their ticketing for concerts, museums, park passes that instead could go directly to the city or town instead of through a third party. Thanks to advances in mobile technology cities and states do not need to use outside vendors for these services and can manage this all on their own through cheap and easy to use SaaS solutions.

Appallicious solves both of these problems with its easy to use and customizable Skipitt™ platform. The platform allows government agencies to have a suite of customized mobile apps that gives residents and visitors the ability to make reservations, purchase tickets for events, receive permits, navigate their city, and even order concessions — all from the palm of your hand. Our mobile platform allows government to collect revenue directly that they would only have gotten a portion of before, and manage their own custom applications and transactions from one robust and flexible content management system. Not to mention, it gives departments a much needed mobile facelift.

The app also makes it easier for residents to make reservations for a soccer field, picnic table or get that permit they need to host an event in a city park. All of this can now be done through a mobile device or the web, saving taxpayers and government workers time and money. No longer will you have to wait on hold or send multiple emails to confirm a picnic table reservation for a birthday party.

What’s the story behind starting Appallicious?

I’ve always loved technology and public service. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to help make government more accessible, but I did not know how I could make a difference. A couple weeks ago, Vice President Joe Biden summed up how technology will transform government, quoting Irish poet William Butler Yeats, “All’s changed, changed utterly. Terrible beauty has been born.” It is incredible how much has changed so quickly.

As Gov 2.0 efforts began to heat up three years ago with the federal government’s launch of and San Francisco’s open data efforts,, a light bulb went off. I began to start thinking about opportunities to transform the way people interact with government via a mobile device., and other Gov 2.0 efforts have begun to make government data easily accessible for developers to make all kinds web and mobile apps that make government work better and would not have been possible just a couple years ago.

Shortly thereafter, I connected with an old friend and rock star developer, Fabrice Armisen, and the idea for Appallicious was born. Since then, our team has been working tirelessly to create a mobile commerce platform for government to handle ticketing, reservations, permitting, ordering and much more, while using open data to provide incredible access, transparency, and resources for the public navigate all of the services and facilities they didn’t know they had access to.

It has been a lot of work, and incredibly challenging, but we’ve done it. And earlier this year, Appallicious was recognized for what we think is an incredible product — we were named a Silicon Valley Innovation Summit A0250 to Watch Winner. And I am happy to announce that we officially launched the platform today with our first city, San Francisco.

Tell us about the app and how you ended up working with San Francisco.

First things first, I’m a San Franciscan, and our company is based in the city. I really wanted to find a way to help the city I love.

About a year ago, San Francisco Rec & Park General Manager Phil Ginsburg and I met. He said that he wanted to bring the park system into the 21st century with an easy to use mobile app that anybody could use.

We started to talk about features that he wanted from a mobile app, he said it had to include ticketing, reservations, permits, navigation tools for finding the best dog park and it had to be flexible to allow for more features. From our initial conversations I thought the Skipitt™ Platform that we were in the middle of developing would be a perfect fit. He agreed and we’ve been working with the city for the past year on the app.

We are rolling out the app today with some of the features enabled. We’ll be adding many more in the weeks and months ahead.

What are app’s key features?

SFRECPARK makes it easy to find attractions, city parks, playgrounds, dog parks, museums, picnic tables, gardens, restrooms, news and events and more in the palm of your hand. Information is displayed with descriptions and pictures on a GPS enabled mobile map.

A few of the features activated for this release include the ability to search, filter, volunteer, donate and make reservation requests at San Francisco city parks and facilities. There is also location based mapping and directions, information, and social media integration.

Future updates will include mobile ticketing, multi-day park passes, the ordering of concessions, classes, public art, and memberships, walking tours through QR scans and location based technology, and transportation options. Additional features will be rolled out in the weeks and months ahead.

We will also be providing the app for different phone operating systems including Android™ and web mobile.

What are the costs, pricing plans?

The SF Rec & park app is free for anybody to download. Go to Apple’s app store to download it by searching for “San Francisco Rec & Park” or just click here.

How can those interested connect with you?

It’s easy. You can find us on the web at

You can download the SF Rec & Park App for free here.

You can also email me directly at

Today, SF also introduced a new open data law. How important are open data laws for your company’s success?

Open data laws are hugely important for our company. San Francisco’s open data efforts made the SF Rec & Park app possible. We used over 1,000 datasets for parks, playgrounds, dog trails and more to create our maps. We used the city’s transportation datasets for people to get directions to all of the city’s attractions. All of these datasets are available on

More than 70 apps have been developed for residents by civic innovators and companies since the city launched San Francisco’s open data efforts have helped to not only spur the creation of apps for citizens and visitors, but also new civically-minded companies like ours and MomMaps, Routesy and Zonability.

What other cities are you working with?

We’ve started with San Francisco and are now working with a number of different departments including the San Francisco Art Commission (SFarts), and the Department of Public Health. We’re also in discussions with a number of other cities, including Los Angeles and Denver.









San Francisco set to appoint chief data officer in revised open data legislation

San Francisco will announce proposed revisions to open data legislation Monday that includes the creation of a chief data officer who will serve as the primary evangelist for making city data freely-available to the public.

As part of the new legislation (full text below), the CDO will “be responsible for sharing City data with the public, facilitating the sharing of information between City departments, and analyzing how data sets can be used to improve city decision making.”

Also included is the requirement that each city agency appoint an open data coordinator and establish open data plans, implementation timelines and itemizations of what data is being collected.

“Open Data is an important resource for growing innovation,” said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee in a prepared statement. “City-maintained datasets hold a wealth of value for citizens when they are liberated from the halls of government. When data is freely accessible, it increases government transparency and efficiency, while also driving civic innovation and job creation.”

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom first launched the city’s open data efforts in 2009 through a centralized website, DataSF. The site was enhanced in March 2012 and is now powered by the data platform startup Socrata.

Watch live

Live announcement with San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee at 11:00 a.m. PST.

Live stream by Ustream


The following text outlines the proposed revisions to San Francisco’s existing Open Data legislation:

[Administrative Code–Citywide Coordination of Open Data Policy and Procedures]

Ordinance amending San Francisco’s open data policies and procedures and establishing the position and duties of Chief Data Officer and Departmental Data Coordinators, and amending San Francisco Administrative Code Sections 22D.2 and 22D.3 to implement these changes.

NOTE: Additions are single-underline italics Times New Roman;

deletions are strike-through italics Times New Roman.

Board amendment additions are double-underlined;

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Do NOT delete this NOTE: area.

Be it ordained by the people of the City and County of San Francisco:

Section 1. Findings.

(a) San Francisco has been a leader in open data policy in the United States. In 2009, Mayor Gavin Newsom issued an Executive Directive promoting Open Data. In 2010, the Board of Supervisors expanded on the Directive with the passage of the City’s Open Data Policy (Ordinance 293-10), codified in San Francisco’s Administrative Code Section 22D.

(b) An open data policy has been shown to drive increased government efficiency and civic engagement, leading to social and economic benefits as a result of innovative citizen interaction with government. Social and economic benefits include, but are not limited to:

(1) Empowering citizens through democratization of information and fostering citizen participation in City projects;

(2) Supporting early stage entrepreneurship;

(3) Encouraging positive environments that contribute to workforce development and job creation; and

(4) Increasing a positive business environment and promoting public-private partnerships.

(c) City departments should take further steps to make their data sets available to the public in a more timely and efficient manner. San Francisco will improve and expand its Open Data Policy by creating the position of Chief Data Officer and Department Data Coordinators to implement the standards and policies articulated in the City’s Open Data Policy.

Section 2. The San Francisco Administrative Code is hereby amended by amending Sections 22D.2, and 22D.3, to read as follows:


(a) Chief Data Officer.

In order to coordinate implementation, compliance, and expansion of the City’s Open Data Policy, the Mayor shall appoint a Chief Data Officer (CDO) for the City and County of San Francisco. The CDO shall be responsible for sharing City data with the public, facilitating the sharing of information between City departments, and analyzing how data sets can be used to improve city decision making. To accomplish these objectives, the CDO shall:

(1) Coordinate utilization, maintenance, and updates of the City’s Open Data website, currently known as “DataSF;”

(2) Oversee the design, adoption by the Committee on Information Technology (COIT) and implementation of technical standards for DataSF to ensure that the portal and its datasets are implemented, updated, and utilized in accordance with San Francisco’s open data policies;

(3) Provide education and analytic tools for City departments to improve and assist with their open data efforts;

(4) Assist departments with compliance with Open Data policies by working with Department Data Coordinators, collecting and reviewing each department’s open data implementation plans and creating a template for the departmental quarterly progress reports;

(5) Present an annual updated citywide implementation plan to COIT, the Mayor, and Board of Supervisors and respond, as necessary, regarding the status of DataSF in the City;

(6) Actively work to further the goals of open data in the City;

(7) Coordinate creation and sharing of internal City data sets outside of those designated for publication on DataSF;

(8) Help establish data standards within and outside the City through collaboration with external organizations;

(9) Assist City departments with analysis of City data sets to improve decision making; and,

(10) Analyze and report on the usage of DataSF.

(b) City Departments

(a) Each City department, board, commission, and agency (“Department”) shall:

(1)Make reasonable efforts to make available all data sets under the Department’s control, provided however, that such disclosure shall be consistent with the rules and standards promulgated by the CDO and adopted by COIT and with applicable law, including laws related to privacy;

(2) Conduct quarterly reviews of their progress on providing access to data sets requested by the public through the designated web portal beginning six months after the appointment of the CDO; and

(3) Designate a Data Coordinator (DC) who will oversee implementation and compliance with the Open Data Policy within his/her respective department. Each DC shall work with the CDO to implement the City’s open data policies and standards. The DC shall:

(i) Prepare an Open Data plan for the Department which shall:

(1) Include a timeline for the publication of the Department’s open data and a summary of open data efforts planned and/or underway in the Department;

(2) Include a summary description of all data sets under the control of each Department (including data contained in already-operating information technology systems);

(3) Prioritize all public data sets for inclusion on DataSF;

(4) Be updated quarterly after the initial submission to the CDO. In the event of unsatisfactory implementation of the plan by the Department and/or disagreement over publication of data sets, the CDO may request the Department’s DC appear before COIT; and,

(5) Be published on the department’s web site in addition to the DataSF site.

(6) Ensure data sets comply with the following requirements:

(ii) Review department data sets for potential inclusion on DataSF and ensure they comply with the following guidelines:

(1) Data prioritized for publication should be of likely interest to the public and should not disclose information that is proprietary, confidential, or protected by law or contract;

(2) Data sets that contain personally identifiable information or represent potential breaches to security or privacy should be flagged for potential exclusion from DataSF; and,

(3) Data sets should be free of charge to the public through the web portal.

(iii) Make data sets available, provided that such disclosure is consistent with the City’s Open Data Policy, technical standards, and with applicable law, including laws related to privacy;

(iv) Catalogue and prioritize the Department’s open data for publication on a quarterly basis;

(v) Appear before COIT and respond to questions regarding the Department’s compliance with the City’s Open Data policies and standards;

(vi) Conspicuously display his/her contact information (including name, phone number or email address) on DataSF with his/her department’s data sets;

(vii) Monitor comments and public feedback on the Department’s data sets on a timely basis;

(viii) Upon receipt of comments or information requests from the public related to data set content and supporting documentation, assess the nature and complexity of the request and provide DT with an expected timeframe to resolve the support inquiry as soon as possible;

(ix) Notify DT upon publication of any updates or corrective action; and,

(x) Notify DT prior to any structural changes to data sets when releasing updated data;

(c) Department of Technology

The Department of Technology (DT) shall provide and manage a single Internet site (web portal) for the City’s public data sets ( or successor site), called “DataSF.” In managing the site, DT shall:

(1) Publish data sets with reasonable, user-friendly registration requirements, license requirements, or restrictions on the use and distribution of data sets;

(2) Indicate data sets that have been recently updated;

(3) Ensure that updated data sets retain the original data structure, i.e., the number of data elements per record, name, formats and order of the data elements must be structurally consistent with the originally approved submission;

(4) Use open, non-proprietary standards when practicable;

(5) Include an on-line forum to solicit feedback from the public and to encourage public discussion on Open Data policies and public data set availability;

(6) Forward open data requests to the assigned DC; and,

(7) Take measures to ensure access to public data sets while protecting DataSF from unlawful abuse or attempts to damage or impair use of the website.


(a) The CDOCOIT shall establish for adoption by COIT rules and standards to implement the open data policy, including developing standards to determine which data sets are appropriate for public disclosure. In making this determination, COIT shall balance the benefits of open data set forth in Section 22D.1, above, with the need to protect from disclosure information that is proprietary, confidential, or protected by law or contract (b) Within 60 days of the effective date of this ordinance, COIT The CDOshall promulgate and COIT shall adopt rules and standards to implement the open data policy which shall apply to all Departments, consistent with COIT’s role and responsibilities in San Francisco Administrative Code Section 22A.3. The CDO and COIT intend to work with CAO and purchaser to develop contract provisions to promote open data policies. The rules and standards shall include the following:

(1) Technical technical requirements for the publishing of public data sets by Departments for the purpose of making public data available to the greatest number of users and for the greatest number of applications. These rules shall, whenever practicable, use non-proprietary technical standards tor web publishing and e-government;

(2) Guidelines guidelines for Departments to follow in developing their plans for implementing the open data policy consistent with the standards established by COIT. Each plan shall include an accounting of public data sets under the control of the Department; and

(3) Rules for including open data requirements in applicable City contracts and standard contract provisions that promote the City’s open data policies, including, where appropriate, provisions to ensure that the City retains ownership of City data and the ability to post the data on or make it available through other means; and,

(4) Requirements that a third party providing City data (or applications based on City data) to the public explicitly identify the source and version of the public data set, and include a description of any modifications made to the public data set.

(c) COIT shall also evaluate the merits and feasibility of making City data sets available pursuant to a generic license, such as those offered by “Creative Commons.” Such a license could grant any user the right to copy, distribute, display and create derivative works at no cost and with a minimum level of conditions placed on the use. If appropriate, COIT shall specify the terms and conditions of such a generic license in the standards it develops it develops to implement the open data policy.

(d) Prior to issuing rules and standards, COIT shall solicit comments from the public, including from individuals and firms who have successfully developed applications using open data sets.

SF tech icons make smarter civic technology pitch brings out the the tech heavyweights for a new video imagining what civic technology could do for a “smarter San Francisco.”, short for San Francisco Citizens Initiative for Technology and Innovation, is a nonprofit organization created by a consortium of SF technology leaders to “leverage the power of the technology community around civic action in San Francisco.”


New monthly civic innovators meetup launches in San Francisco

CivicMeetCivicMeet is a new monthly meetup that helps connect public and private sector innovators working to create a more open, engaged civil society.

The first CivicMeet SF will be held in San Francisco on November 15, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Thirsty Bear.

Space is limited so register now.

Big shout to fellow organizers and Bay Area civic rock stars Alissa Black, Sarah Granger, Marci Harris, Hillary Hartley, Tina Lee and Shannon Spanhake on making this happen.

Be sure to connect with CivicMeet (or start one where you live) on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

If you’d like to help coordinate or host an event, feel free to contact us here.

Look forward to seeing you there!

These 9 cities will Code for America in 2013

Code for America announced the 9 cities that will participate in its 2013 fellowship program.

Code for AmericaThe 2013 partner cities include Kansas City, Las Vegas, Louisville, New York City, Oakland, San Francisco, San Mateo County (Calif.), South Bend and Summit County (Ohio).

According to Code for America, the 2013 fellows will include approximately 30 developers, user experience designers, graphic designers and project managers who will begin their fellowships in January 2013. The full list of fellows will be announced later this month.

“We are very excited to officially announce our 2013 city partners.” said Code for America Founder and Executive Director Jen Pahlka. “Each government, in its own right, is a leader in the innovation world, and our fellows will have the chance to be at the forefront of that innovation. With the support of such forward-thinking and dedicated city staff, we look forward to continuing to build long-lasting partnerships with each of the nine cities.”

Quotes from city representatives

John Feinblatt, Chief Policy Advisor to New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg:

“New York City has long been at the forefront of using data and technology to direct public resources more effectively and deliver services more efficiently. We are proud to partner with Code for America the Arnold Foundation and Blue Ridge Foundation to announce the next chapter in this effort – a new project to bring new reliable real-time information to our courtrooms to help ensure judgments are well-informed and justice is swift.”

Mayor Ed Lee, City of San Francisco:

“The City of San Francisco is proud to have Code for America in our innovation ecosystem. We have partnered with Code for America on many of their initiatives, and we are very excited to work with them to bring passionate web developers, designers, and entrepreneurs here to help make San Francisco more open and efficient.”

Mayor Pete Buttigieg, South Bend, Ind.:

“The City of South Bend has made a concerted effort to become a more innovative and technologically creative city,” said Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Good government starts with being a smarter and more efficient operation. As a Code for America 2013 city partner, we are putting South Bend in high gear as we strive to better serve the people of our community.”

Mayor Jean Quan, City of Oakland, Calif.:

“The City of Oakland is honored to have been selected to participate in the 2013 Code for America program. We are excited for change and committed to leveraging the power of apps, software and the web to make Oakland a more efficient, transparent and participatory City. I look forward to the positive, long-term impact on our community I know Code for America can make.”

Joseph Marcella, Chief Technology Officer for the City of Las Vegas:

“As the economy shifts toward recovery It’s now time, for us at the city of Las Vegas to get creative. Serving the community will require innovation, critically different thinking and most of all, focus and energy. Participating in the Code for America project will be the catalyst for the city to become a high-tech community-minded model for other cities to emulate.“