September 25, 2009 By Karen Stewartson
San Francisco today announced the launch of DataSF Apps Showcase, a site that boasts free innovative applications created by citizens using city and county data.
"We are trying to turn San Francisco's government into an organizing platform for civic engagement by giving our residents the tools to build the kind of government that works for them," said Mayor Gavin Newsom in a press release. "This is just the beginning. We hope creative developers will build countless more apps never dreamed of in City Hall."
In August, San Francisco launched DataSF.org -- a clearing-house of data sets available from the city and county -- which aims to help the community create innovative applications. At that time, city CIO Chris Vein told Government Technology the vision of the site.
"What we're thinking about doing is having an 'apps store,' if we can legally do this. It would be showing on the portal Web site those solutions that are created, and highlighting the names and the work of the people that did it."
Today the city reached that goal with the launch of DataSF Apps Showcase. The site features 10 applications, such as CleanScores, which lists health inspection scores of city restaurants and EcoFinder, which tells users how and where to dispose of recyclables.
DataSF.org and the apps store are a part of the mayor's Open Gov initiative, which focuses on open data, open government and open source, according the press release.
San Francisco continues to spearhead innovative projects. The city is synonymous with Web 2.0 and green technology. In June, the city launched a 311 Twitter service for constituents to make customer service requests, and earlier this month, unveiled new green roof bus shelters modeled after the California Academy of Sciences Building's living roof concept, which help to improve air quality and engage citizens in environmental conservation.
All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.