We’re geeks. San Joseans are, by our collective nature, creative people accustomed to approaching life unconventionally. We have a tradition of solving problems by pitting our imaginations against the traditional. Innovative San Joseans have launched transformational endeavors, ranging from broadcast radio (Charles “Doc” Herrold) and commercial wine (Paul Masson and JJ Mirassou), to Chicano theater (Luis Valdez) and personal computers (Steve Wozniak). Walk into any San Jose coffee shop, and you may just see the next big idea being born.
Our innovative community will continue to change the world. And with this change comes a host of new challenges – and opportunities – for local government.
The big question is: Can we make our City Hall as innovative as the community we serve? That is, can we leverage our collective aptitude for innovation to solve great urban challenges such as crime, poverty, transportation, and climate change?
Together, we can – if we are willing to “unleash our geek.”
We’ve spent the first year of my term laying the groundwork to transform the ways in which City Hall goes about the people’s business. Within my own office, I’ve assembled a Civic Innovation team made up of the best and brightest, headed by Khanh Russo (our Director of Strategic Partnerships) and Shireen Santosham (our Innovation Director), and City Manager Norberto Duenas has created a small (but fierce) data analytics team to increase the use of analytics in our decision-making. We’ve also forged agreements with partners who bring critical resources and expertise – such as the White House, Knight Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Google, Silver Spring Networks, Carnegie Mellon, and San Jose State University – and begun to make long-neglected investments in IT infrastructure that will help us embrace innovative solutions.
In the months ahead, you’ll be hearing more about my Innovation Agenda and specific initiatives that will help transform our city for the better:
* First, you’ll hear about “smart city” projects that leverage new technologies to help us improve public safety and city services, such as efforts to pilot smart intersections and vehicles.
* Second, you’ll hear about efforts to embrace open data and data analytics to improve public services, like better targeting enforcement of illegal dumping or making parks maintenance more efficient.
* And you’ll hear about new civic engagement tools, efforts to better leverage the innovation within our City workforce, and educational initiatives like (TechHire and SJPL Works) that help the entire community participate in and benefit from our region’s innovation economy.
I hope all of you will join us in “unleashing your geek” and help us build a city for the future. If you’d like to engage with us, please email us at: