By: Kate Maeder and Miriam E. Marks

On September 20, government innovation enthusiasts packed the Code For America national headquarters in San Francisco for the Presidential Innovation Fellows Open House. They joined SF Mayor Ed Lee, who recently proclaimed October “Innovation Month” in San Francisco, the Mayor’s Chief Innovation Officer Jay Nath, and U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park.

Code For America 2013 – San Francisco

Mayor Lee announced that San Francisco will be the Code For America host city in 2013.Mayor Lee announced that San Francisco will be the Code For America host city in 2013, allowing a class of Innovation Fellows to work on projects that make SF government more open and efficient by leveraging the power of the Internet and web-based tools.

Park then described the Presidential Innovation Fellows program, which pairs fellows with top innovators in government to collaborate on projects that will reshape and improve aspects of government in just six months.

After introductions, there were engaging breakout sessions encouraged audience members to learn more about the different components of the first-of-its-kind national innovation program. With about 40 people in each session, audience members were able to ask questions, share their ideas and describe individual projects.

Todd Park led the breakout sessions, which weren’t just about Q&A – they were about having a conversation on how and why we need an innovative Government 2.0 – exactly the style we’re proud to do both online and offline with Reset.

“Data is only useful if it gets applied”


CTO Park emphasized that data needs to be actionable, and it needs to be applied to solve problems.CTO Park emphasized that data by itself is useless. It needs to be actionable, and it needs to be applied to solve problems. And so, the purpose of the Open Data Initiative is to make new data available, make existing data machine-readable, and engage with American entrepreneurs to make it accessible.

Blue Button for America, for example, engages data suppliers, architects and users in a dialogue exchange to ensure data and information accurately meets the users’ needs. This program enables individuals to securely download their health records with information such as current medications, drug allergies, and lab reports. Patients able to access and utilize this data have avoided medical complications and even death.

What does it really mean to #InnovateGov?

Ian Kalin, Presidential Innovation Fellow for the Open Data Initiative, mentioned that innovation in government isn’t just building apps for smartphones – it’s much more than that. For Government 2.0 to work, the culture of data and information needs to change. We agree.

Government 2.0 means empowering people – from nurses, firefighters, and teachers to government employees – to understand the importance of sharing information to improve our neighborhoods, cities, and country. When shared, information can function as a system of metrics that measures what is and isn’t working in government. More data means government could spend more effectively, eliminate waste, help our buses and trains run on-time, make public safety more responsive, and even save lives.

When Phil Ting founded Reset San Francisco two years ago, he knew that that our government could be more efficient with data-driven decision-making and listening to the people. At Reset San Francisco, we believe that the best solutions arise when you crowdsource ideas from the community, from experts and from thought leaders.

Innovation in government relies, most importantly, on the participation of citizens. So get connected, stay involved, and exercise your opinion – together we can assist our city to become more open and more efficient.

Learn more about the Presidential Innovation Fellows here, and stay tuned for more information on San Francisco’s innovation fellowship program as it becomes available.