Innovation is key to city’s transparency 

We are not going to kid ourselves: these are challenging times. The news out of Sacramento and Washington, D.C., every day reinforces the reality that local governments and cities will have to continue to do more with less. Today, more than ever, San Francisco is uniquely poised to innovate and take a different approach to solving our challenges.

This month, I hosted a forum recognizing the critical role that technology and innovation play in cities by sharing best practices at the 80th annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Florida. There, I joined the White House to announce an Open Government Innovation Partnership to urge mayors across our nation to pledge to help cities advance and prioritize innovation to drive job growth and economic development, and improve efficiency and collaboration. As chair of the first USCM Technology and Innovation Task Force, I asked mayors to join a partnership that will build an ecosystem to help cities advance and prioritize innovation to improve government.

Open-government initiatives, such as making city data available to everyone, spur entrepreneurship, foster economic growth and create jobs. Applications can be developed by the brightest minds in our city to address anything from knowing when to move your car to avoid a parking ticket; to what’s the fastest mode of travel to get to your destination, biking or bus; to finding your nearest park. Adopting innovation in a city’s action plan also makes government more transparent and holds us even more accountable to the public we serve.

Just this week, I joined the San Francisco Police Department and San Francisco Citizens Initiative for Technology and Innovation to announce a new mobile application that will allow police officers to report remotely from the field, avoiding time-consuming trips to district stations. They will also share reports in real time to improve Police Department efficiency and accountability. This project combines two of my priorities for The City: supporting our innovation economy and improving public safety. This initiative makes our Police Department one of the most innovative in the world, allowing officers to utilize cutting-edge 21st-century technology built right here in the “Innovation Capital of the World” to keep our city and our residents safe.

Leading by example, San Francisco is showing how important innovation and technology are to reforming government and improving transparency and accountability. What we learn and apply here can be replicated, and I will continue to work with city leaders from across the country to build a culture of innovation in city government.

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Ed Lee

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