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August 27, 2010

Chris Vein, San Francisco’s CIO, on sf.govfresh

GovFresh will be putting on their first local event on Sept 1 in San Francisco. Adobe is honored to host the event at our facilities in San Francisco. We asked Chris Vein, San Francisco’s CIO, to give us some context for the event. See the Q&A below.

Q: Thanks for talking with us, Chris. Can you start by telling us a bit about yourself and your role with the City & County of San Francisco?

A: Currently, I wear three hats:  I am the Chief Information Officer (CIO) for the City and County of San Francisco (City) and also the Director of the Department of Technology.  In addition, I chair the City’s information and communications technology governance organization.

Throughout my career, I’ve been blessed with an amazing number of opportunities in the public, private, and non-profit sectors working with wonderfully talented people on projects where creativity was required.  As a facilitator of change, I enjoy taking a bunch of different and disparate parts and creating a sustainable solution.

Q: For folks who aren’t familiar, tell us a bit about the City’s open government efforts. How long have they been in place and what is DataSF?

A: The City’s Open Government initiative is all about creating through collaboration a more transparent and accountable government using all sorts of innovative measures and tools. of the Initiative was to focus on the release of government data.  One of the first projects, DataSF is a Web 2.0 clearinghouse for sharing data with the public. Anyone can visit the website; once there, they will find links to raw, structured and machine readable datasets created and maintained by the City and County of San Francisco.  Additionally, visitors to the website can comment, rate, vote and request new datasets and applications, mashups or wikis made with the data.

Q: Can you highlight a few of the apps that have been created by developers as a result of DataSF?

A: San Francisco is home to a large and vibrant developer community.  The City is committed to helping this community to create new jobs in San Francisco by building mobile device applications through leveraging government data.

You can find over 40 applications on the DataSF showcase.  We attempted to group them in categories of similar applications.  One of our most popular categories has to do with transportation.

Routesy San Francisco – Routesy will help you find your way around the Bay Area’s top transit systems — San Francisco Muni and BART — in real time. Simply choose the line you want to ride, and Routesy will show you the closest stop or station, along with real-time prediction data to make sure you make it on time.

Another is Mom Maps.

Mom Maps – Mom Maps is a new iPhone application that helps you find kid friendly locations in San Francisco. It contains an extensive list of parks, playgrounds, restaurants, museums and indoor play areas that are kid friendly and fun. Using GPS you’ll see results which are close to you, plus a map to get you there.

Crime Visualizations

As a testament to how interested citizens are with government data, someone even developed a series of graphical representations of crimes in the form of peaks and valleys over San Francisco.  The practical application is deeper understanding of where crimes are committed and what types of crimes happen in various areas of the city.

Q: GovFresh is hosting an event on Sept. 1 for citizens, developers and public servants to discuss the City’s open government initiatives. How did the City get involved and why?

A:   The City has been working with GovFresh to support our collaboration goals.  GovFresh is an amazing tool to bring together people interested in finding new and innovative ways to provide government services.

Q: Who will be speaking from the City, and can you give us a preview of what we can expect to hear?

A: The City’s Chief Information Officer Chris Vein will be representing an amazing group of City staff committed to making government more collaborative and transparent.  He will provide some context for why and how the City is leading the country in these areas, preview some cool projects the City is working on, and preview where we are going next.

Q: What does the City hope will be the outcome of the GovFresh event?

A: A whole lot more excited people will want to work with the City in transforming government as we know it.  We believe that closer ties between our constituency and the City will allow us to better serve their needs and develop relationships with those willing and able to help build a the responsive government that they deserve.

Q: Before we let you go, we wanted to ask about the Obama Administration’s Open Government Initiative. In your view, how has it influenced what we’re seeing from local governments in terms of open gov efforts? Interested both in terms of your specific experiences in San Francisco, but also what you’ve seen and heard from peers in other parts of the country.

A: In my view, the Obama Administration became the catalyst for all government to more quickly and effectively move forward.  San Francisco is working closely with government at all levels across the country.  We are taking advantage of the Administration’s vision and projects to guide our own.  What is really interesting is the discussion of integrating data and applications collectively at all levels of government.  I think we really are seeing the potential for creating a truly integrated government that can focus on delivery of service and not organizational silos.

COMMENTS

  • [...] There was a lot of great discussion, including the morning keynote from Dave McClure (@drdavemcc), Associate Administrator, Office of Citizen Services & Innovative Technologies at GSA, and closing keynote from Chris Vein, US Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Government Innovation, Office of Science and Technology, Executive Office of the President (and, in his previous role with the City and County of San Francisco, the featured speaker at last year’s sf.govfresh event). [...]