SF Mayor Newsom introduces legislation to open, centralize all city data

While it’s true that November 2nd will help shape the direction of our cities, states and country, this Thursday is also an important date for how government will look like and operate in the future.

On Thursday in San Francisco City Hall legislators will hear open data legislation introduced by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. The legislation if approved would make all non-confidential city data available to the public in one location — DataSF.org — whether it’s crime reports, bus arrival times or street sweeping schedules.

The law would codify an Open Data Executive Directive introduced by Mayor Newsom last year that asked City departments to provide data to the public and make it a permanent fabric of the City.

A Gov 2.0 Movement is Born

The Federal Government launched Data.Gov in 2009 to open government data to the public. With data from Data.Gov, the public can build applications, websites and mash-ups. San Francisco followed President Obama’s lead and launched a local version, DataSF.org a few months later with more than a hundred datasets.

San Francisco City leaders did not know what the public would do with the data, but believed that the public should have easy access to their data and that the City’s innovative citizens would build programs to bring government into the 21st Century.

Government as a Platform

Just weeks after the launch, new apps and websites started popping up. Developers built programs to help City residents find out when a bus was arriving, where to recycle hazaderous materials and show crime patterns in the city — all from data available on DataSF.org.

Since the launch of DataSF.org there have been more than fifty apps created from the City’s data with many more in the works. But, this is just the beginning of Gov 2.0 in San Francisco and hopefully throughout the country. San Francisco legislators have the opportunity to create a whole new generation of civic leaders by making open data official policy in the City by the Bay.

If you support open data sign the online twitter petition and if you live in San Francisco show up for the fun on Thursday.

Brian Purchia is a communications strategist that has led media strategy for politicians, tech start-ups, and Fortune 500 companies. His recent successes include organizing the first mayoral forum on Gov 2.0, SFOpen 2011 and leading communications for Change.org, an online platform for social change. The New York Times says Change.org’s profile “skyrocketed,” with Purchia as Communications Director. From 2006-10, Brian was San Francisco Mayor Newsom’s New Media Director. Purchia was described by the San Francisco Chronicle as Newsom’s “go-to guy for new, and especially social media” for his implementation of a groundbreaking new media strategy called “gutsy” and “brilliant” on NPR. Purchia’s work, described by Craigslist founder Craig Newmark as “genuinely innovative,” led to Newsom ranking as #1 mayor for his use of social media by the leading search engine for finding and tracking consumer-generated opinions, Samepoint. Newsom’s extensive new media operation was used to build the mayor’s reputation as an environmental leader. In 2010, Newsom was selected the greenest mayor for the second year in a row by TreeHugger. Brian was also the driving force behind the nation’s first open data law, open source software policy, and API for government.


Thank you

Every day I get to engage with entrepreneurs, public sector innovators and journalists on re-imagining and re-energizing how government works, what it means to be “civic,” and this year has been an incredible one for many friends and colleagues.

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