Crowdsourcing San Francisco City Hall

Open government may benefit quality of life

by: Kate Maeder

Reset Views is Reset San Francisco's featured guest blog by thought leaders and opinion makers in SF

We can’t escape it – our Smartphones, apps, home computers – we’re constantly connected to the web, but more importantly, to each other. The more we talk and share information online, the more social our community becomes.

San Franciscans are so high-tech.

We love Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Groupon, LinkedIn, Zynga, Smartphones, iPads and anything else that screams web 2.0. In fact, the Web 2.0 Expo will be hosted later this month at the Moscone Center, where web designers, developers and social media-ites will gather to talk about the latest social media platforms and web 2.0 tools.

Yet too often left out of this conversation is the power of social media and these online tools to transform San Francisco into a Government 2.0 city. And that starts with transparent, open government.

Did you know that open government may benefit our quality of life?

According to a recent study by the Pew Internet Project, if government were more open and more transparent, we’d be happier and more inspired to make our city better.

There are a number of San Franciscans championing open government and the Gov 2.0 cause: GovFresh founders, Adriel Hampton and Jay Nath, Tim O'Reilly, and a number of other “Gov 2.0 Heroes” – and although there’s been progress over the last few years, City Hall can do better.

And one way to do better is to “crowdsource” our ideas and their ideas, empowering us to get involved and to get engaged.

So, what is crowdsourcing?

Crowdsourcing is collecting ideas and solutions from citizens to solve a problem. Using social media and web 2.0 tools, City Hall could effectively collect a number of creative ideas from us. And in this economical time, we need out-of-the-box thinking to get The City back on track.

Why don’t politicians empower us to get more involved and to get engaged? Why don’t we ask City Hall to crowdsource our ideas using these tools?

San Francisco is home to the most innovative and creative people in the world. So, why can’t our city government reflect this innovation, and why shouldn’t we demand it to be open and transparent using social media and available web 2.0 tools?

Yet not only should we demand open government at City Hall – but also politicians should work to empower the very people they represent.

And maybe that’s the only way we can truly make government work – by getting us more involved – a radical idea, I know. The end result not only means more voices and more ideas in city policy, but also, according to Pew, it means San Franciscans will be a happier bunch.

We all know that San Francisco is the greatest city in the world, and we have so much pride for the amazing things in this city. So let’s harness our positive, collaborative energy and get our city working again.

Sign this petition

Sign this petition to ask elected officials to empower us to make our voices heard and to crowdsource City Hall – Log in and add your comments and ideas below.

Phil Ting's picture

Crowdsourcing is democracy

Our democratic system currently allows a few people to participate but tries to keep most of the people outside.  How else can you explain meetings which are held during the day?  Public comments during the day where you would have to take a few hours off work just to show up and be heard from.  I heard today commissions aren't at night because they we'd really get clobbered in public.  Maybe this is the problem.  Because we dont hear from all the people, the solutions only take a few people into account.

The internet and social media have created a huge opportunity for government.  We can either embrace the community or continue to use these tools to shut people out.

Adriel Hampton's picture

Gov 2.0 in San Francisco

Thanks for the shout out, Kate, and thanks for putting Gov 2.0 on the agenda. For folks looking for more background on the issue of crowdsourcing citizen innovations, my podcast, Gov 2.0 Radio, has done several episodes on ideation platforms - tech solutions that make it easy to collect and rate ideas. 

"UserVoice CEO Richard White on Leveraging Your Community"

"SaaS Before the Cloud was Cool: Rob Hoehn of IdeaScale"

"Crowdsourcing in the Gov't and Enterprise: Matt Greeley of BrightIdea"

"Ideation and Innovation: Spigit's Hutch Carpenter"

Bernadette's picture

Awesome to See Adriel Hampton Involved with Gov 2.0 on Reset SF!

@Adriel Hampton: I love your blog! I've read it to gain a better foundation for and to continue to learn about gov 2.0 and media 2.0 and think it's really cool that you're a Reset San Francisco user! What's cooler than to have a major Gov 2.0 blogger hanging around a Gov 2.0 project like Reset San Francisco?

I hope the Reset San Francisco community can gain more insights, perspectives, and ideas from you!

Kate Maeder's picture

Citizensourcing Smarter Government

Check out this article that Alex Howard posted today about "citizensourcing" a smarter government in NY:

@SophieT: add that to your 21st century vocab. First time I read it too!

Absolutely supportive of Gov 2.0

As a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs, I am charged with engaging with how different sectors can work together. I see in Gov 2.0 initiatives the potential for private tech groups  to bring the the best of tech to better organize information for the leaders in government today, not tomorrow. As a San Franciscan, I support more strategic development of technologically proficient leaders, and policy proficient coders and developers. I applaud the organizations like SeeClickFix which are making it easier to identify problems in MUNI and broken infrastructure. I also admire the work of Code for America, which is helping to build the next generation of tech/gov leaders.

Alyssa Sittig's picture

SF Next Generation of Gov 2.0

I think the possibilities for this new technology are truly limitless. How much could we improve efficiency and communication if I could directly voice my concerns and ideas to my SF district representative via the web? I can imagine how much faster and smarter government would work. Campaigns for city council could address specific concerns voiced in online communities like Reset SF -- and maybe we could stop the political jargon and begin having real conversations about the issues that matter most to San Franciscans. 

SophieT's picture

Mashable says Gov 2.0 is the way to go

Check out a few of these articles from mashable. Yes, I know, they are a few months out dated, but I remembered coming across them while doing some social media research a few weeks ago on their site and thought they would be of interest. The internet is a really important tool that governments need to make use of.


@Kate Maeder:  I did not know the term was crowdsourcing. Thanks for the addition to my twenty-first century vocabulary

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