David Chiu

Open data vital for San Francisco’s Bike Share

bike share

Finally, a bike-sharing program is coming to San Francisco! What Europeans figured out years ago will be a reality in the Bay Area by this August. The plan is to put 700 bikes at 70 different stations in the City and throughout the Bay Area—where residents can quickly hop on a bicycle at one station, and drop it off at another. Appallicious is very excited about this new program, not only because we’re looking forward to hopping on these new bikes ourselves, but also in order for the program to be successful, the utilization of open data will be key. That’s why I’ll be joining sf.citi and the San Francisco Bike Coalition at Yammer on Wednesday, for a conversation about the launch of the new program and how open data and the tech community at large fits in.

Once the bike share program starts, it’s going to be extremely important to know where the heaviest demand for bikes are at certain times during the day, and certain days during the week. It’s safe to assume that on a Monday morning, you’re going to need more bikes in residential areas, and less in the Financial District, since commuters will be biking to work. But with any program like this, unexpected variables are bound to come up, and this is where open data will come in.

The bikes and bike stations will most certainly have a GPS component where the city will be able to track bikes in use, and the amount that have been checked in or out at each station. Companies like Appallicious will then be able to synthesize this data and not only help the City of San Francisco figure out where and when the heaviest demand for bikes is, but can also inform citizens through mobile applications how many bikes are available at a specific station at any given time. Just like the features on the SF Rec and Park App we developed allows you to find parks, playgrounds, dog parks, picnic tables, and more — we could also bring bicycle availability right into the app! It will be just like checking the availability of a ZipCar at a nearby parking garage.

Once this raw data is available to Appallicious, there are quite a few steps before it can be packaged and presented to bike riders in a way that will help them figure out bike availability, or to city leaders who need to know which stations need more bikes, and which ones need less. The idea of the public sector providing the private sector with information like this is nothing new. In 1983, President Ronald Reagan issued a directive guaranteeing that GPS signals would be available at no charge to the world when sucha a system became operational, in the wake of a Korean Airlines flight that was shot down after accidentally flying into Russian airspace.

The Obama administration has continued to promote the idea of “sustainable innovation” that President Reagan helped start. The GPS directive from Reagan has created a $250 billion a year navigation industry. Think about GPS companies like Garmin or applications like Google Maps that rely on GPS—without Open GPS, these companies would have never have been created, and we’d still have stacks of paper maps from AAA stuffed in our glove compartments!

With this renewed push for open data, through President Obama’s Open Government Initiative, there is a chance for the United States to build a new, thriving and successful industry through information released to the public by city governments. As more and more information is released by cities all over the country and the world, companies are going to be able to step up and provide new technology that allow citizens to access and benefit from this information.

In San Francisco, open data advocates like Mayor Ed Lee and Supervisor David Chiu have just passed new open data legislation that will allow companies like Appallicious to create apps and change the way in which cities and governments are able to operate for years to come.

The possibilities are endless, and I am extremely excited to see how innovators and entrepreneurs find revolutionary ways of using this data to make bike sharing easier in San Francisco. Wouldn’t it be cool to integrate the bike-sharing program into the SF Rec and Park App? You could reserve a bike with your app and then take it for a tour of Golden Gate Park or see all the incredible art available throughout the city using the app. The open data movement has the potential to create a thriving, sustainable industry that can create millions of jobs, and a symbiotic relationship between the private and public sectors that could make both more effective, efficient, and profitable.

San Francisco makes open data city policy

SF Mayor Ed Lee introduced open data legislation on October 15 that would create a chief data officer and promote the use of open data in city government. (Photo: City of San Francisco)

SF Mayor Ed Lee introduced open data legislation on October 15 that would create a chief data officer and promote the use of open data in city government. (Photo: City of San Francisco)

Today, open data and its power to transform a city and a nation by engaging tech savvy citizens will be on display at San Francisco City Hall. And just as importantly, companies that have been successful because of forward thinking open data policies will testify to our elected leaders about its importance. As a founder of one of these sustainable companies, Appallicious, I am proud to be speaking on behalf of the open data movement.

After hearing testimony from myself and others in the open data industry, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors will review and vote on new legislation that will strengthen the city’s open data initiatives and allow San Francisco to appoint a Chief Data Officer (CDO) to manage the City’s open data efforts.

More than three years ago the City of San Francisco launched DataSF.org, the city’s one-stop shop for government data. San Francisco was the first city to follow the federal government’s open government effort, Data.gov when it launched DataSF.org. Since then, more than 70 apps have been developed for city residents by civic innovators and companies– countless other cities and towns have been inspired to follow San Francisco’s lead and have enacted similar policies, providing residents with greater accessibility to government data.

San Francisco’s open data efforts have helped spur the creation of apps for citizens that makes it easier for residents to receive government services, actively participate in city policy and have saved the city a substantial amount of money. Behind these open data apps are new, civically minded companies, and a new industry that is starting to emerge in the land of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.  Companies like Appallicious100PlusRoutesy, and Zonability, that would not have been possible just a couple years ago are popping up in cities all over the country supported by amazing organizations like Code For America.

Back in October 2012, I was proud to join San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, Supervisor David Chiu and San Francisco Rec & Park GM Phil Ginsburg as they introduced the revised open data legislation. These Gov 2.0 leaders used the event to highlight companies like Appallicious that are using open data to create apps and re-imagine our city. They launched the San Francisco Rec & Park app that Appallicious created using over 1,000 datasets for parks, playgrounds, and dog parks, along with transportation datasets so residents can get directions to all of the City’s attractions. All of these datasets are available on DataSF.org.

The SF Rec & Park app makes it easy for anybody to find city parks, playgrounds, 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.

The SF Rec & Park app, which was recently named by Mashable as one of 7 open data apps every city should have, also will soon make it easier for residents to make reservations for a soccer field or picnic table, or apply for a permit when they need to host an event in a public park. All of this will be available through a mobile device or on 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.

Open data apps like this are only the beginning of something much bigger that is being made possible by open data policies and government leaders that get its importance.

On his first day as President, Obama signed the memorandum on Transparency and Open Government to spur innovation at the Federal level for private sector development. This move inspired progressive cities like San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Philadelphia to create their own open data legislation at the local level.  This has led to an emergent new industry, unparalleled innovation, job creation, revenue, and collaboration between government and the private sector not seen since President Reagan’s decision to open up the Global Positioning System in the 1980s.

Organizations like Code for America and Citizenville, as well as private companies like Appallicious and the SF Rec & Park app are living, breathing examples of the new industry first created by President Reagan in the 1980s and rejuvenated by President Obama.

Stay tuned, a whole new industry is starting to take form powered by open data on a local level, creating jobs, revenue, and never before seen citizen and government.

If your city is new to the open data movement, please ask your elected leaders to take the Citizenville Challenge and bring open data policies and innovation to your community. And take a second to support the open data movement by applauding Appallicious’ submission to the Knight Foundation News Challenge and others that are transforming the way government and citizens engage and communicate.

Corrections: “Open Government Act” was changed to “memorandum on Transparency and Open Government.” Reference to “Open GPS” was changed to “Global Positioning System.”

Is San Francisco sittin’ on the dock of the open data bay?

San FranciscoIn October 2012, in the form of proposed legislation, San Francisco announced it would appoint a chief data officer to “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.”

Nearly five months later, the city has yet to follow through on its open data promise.

“Making City data available to everyday citizens will help government explore new solutions to old challenges,” said Mayor Ed Lee in a press release announcing new proposed open data legislation. “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.”

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

Unfortunately, San Francisco missed a great opportunity to position the new appointee during this past weekend’s 2013 International Open Data Day Hackathon, and there are no signs it will do so in the immediate future.

When Philadelphia issued an executive order in April 2012 announcing a CDO position, the city appointed Mark Headd within three and a half months.

In the city with a technology culture that prides itself on rapid execution, what is taking so long to finalize the legislation and getting the position filled?

Civic accelerator Tumml to host ‘Urban Innovation and the Role of Government’ talk

Urban ventures accelerator Tumml will host a panel discussion, Uncharted Territory: Urban Innovation and the Role of Government, on January 28 from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. at the Hatchery in San Francisco (Register here).

The event will focus on the rise of urban innovators and how entrepreneurs and government can collaborate to further innovation and improve cities.

Panelists:

  • David Chiu, President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors
  • Logan Green, Co-Founder and CEO of Zimride/ Lyft
  • Molly Turner, Director of Public Policy at Airbnb
  • Moderated by Peter Hirshberg, Board Chairman of the Gray Area Foundation For The Arts

See a related post on the subject from Tumml co-founders Clara Brenner and Julie Lein here.

SFOpen 2011: David Chiu

David ChiuAs part of SFOpen 2011, we’re featuring the San Francisco mayoral candidates and their thoughts and ideas on open government and Government 2.0. We’re interviewing each of them and have asked them to commit to the Open Government Pledge for San Francisco.

Meet David Chiu.


Committed to the Open Government Pledge for San Francisco?

Yes.

Open government statement

“For open government to mature, San Francisco needs a mayor who speaks the language of the tech community and believes deeply that technology can engage a sometimes disconnected public – and make government work better in lean budget times. As the former founder of a small technology company, I am uniquely suited to be a mayor who makes San Francisco the undisputed leader on open government.”

GovFreshTV interview

Connect with Chiu

8 of 9 major SF mayor candidates commit to ‘Open Government Pledge for San Francisco’

Eight of the 9 major San Francisco mayoral candidates have committed to the Open Government Pledge for San Francisco.

The candidates include:

Candidate Tony Hall did not commit to the pledge, but offered this statement in place of:

“While I don’t sign others’ pledges (only my own), I absolutely agree with the spirit of the language and just wish it were tougher on corruption. I hope you will note my reasons for my decision.”

Full pledge:

San Francisco Mayoral Candidate Commitment to Open Government

Open government is the movement to improve government by making government more transparent, participatory, collaborative, accountable, efficient, and effective. Open government will help build the public’s trust and satisfaction in government, will improve government’s delivery of services, and will create new opportunities for innovation.

I, _______________________, commit to support the following principles of open government:

Transparency: To increase accountability, promote informed public participation, and create economic development opportunities, the city shall expand access to information
Participation: To create more informed and effective policies, the city shall enhance and expand opportunities for the public to participate throughout decision-making processes.
Collaboration: To more effectively fulfill its obligations to citizens, the city will enhance and expand its practices of cooperation among city departments, other governmental agencies, the public, and non-profit and private.

With the rise of new technologies and an increasingly connected population, a growing pressure has been placed on government leaders and government entities to adopt these open government principles. I will take steps to ensure San Francisco meets these demands and supports citizens’ needs.

By supporting open government efforts, San Francisco will build on and enhance opportunities for citizens to inform government; will further develop the city’s transparency and accountability; and develop a platform to support innovation.

Furthermore, I will support developing a legal framework to support open government, and I will ensure open government efforts are appropriately funded and managed, which will help build a culture of open government.

San Francisco is already a leader in supporting innovation through sharing government data and is a leader in the open government movement.

I will ensure the city and all of its departments continue in this direction to create the model of local open government.

I commit to working with city officials and the public to ensure open government and innovation continue to grow in San Francisco.

San Francisco mayoral candidates to share their open government ideas at SFOpen 2011

SFOpen 2011

Today is a big day for open government everywhere, especially San Francisco.

I’m pleased to announce that eight major San Francisco mayoral candidates will participate in SFOpen 2011, a townhall forum focused specifically on open government, citizen engagement and leveraging technology to build better government. The event will be held June 16 at Automattic (home of WordPress) and will be moderated by tech legend Mitch Kapor.

Participating candidates include Michela Alioto-Pier, David Chiu, Bevan Dufty, Tony Hall, Dennis Herrera, Joanna Rees, Phil Ting and Leland Yee.

As part of this announcement:

  • Candidates will begin blogging their ideas on the newly-launched sf.govfresh, where fellow candidates and citizens will have the opportunity to engage with them openly and directly.
  • We’ve started an idea platform, SFIdeas, so that citizens can share their ideas for San Francisco.

At a time when government needs to leverage the power of collaboration, this is an excellent opportunity for candidates to show their commitment to the principles of open government. It’s an opportunity for open government to be a major discussion topic right at the beginning of the political process. Hopefully it will serve as a model for candidates and open government advocates everywhere.

This wouldn’t have happened without the great work of Brian Purchia and the support of Change.org, Automattic, Third Thursdays SF, Gov 2.0 Radio and CityCampSF.

So, learn more about SFOpen 2011, the candidates, start sharing your ideas for new San Francisco and stay tuned for a great discussion on the future of one of the world’s leading open cities.