Learn more about the 20 civic challenges from across our four partner cities: (click each city to expand)
City of San Francisco
HUMAN SERVICES AGENCY (EARLY CHILD CARE EDUCATION): EASY TO USE TOOL FOR FAMILIES TO GET ACCESS TO HIGH QUALITY CHILDCARE
CONTEXT: As of today, more than 3,000 children from low-income families from across the City under the age of 5 are on waiting lists for child care. And the number will likely grow each day. Unfortunately, the current countywide waiting list fails to effectively connect families to child care options that meet their needs. Only about 10% of families on the waiting list who are contacted enroll in a child care program. In our interviews with parents, almost all mentioned that they were on waiting lists for long periods of time with no idea about their status. Among the few parents who were finally contacted about an available space, most said the childcare offered didn’t meet their schedule, location or cost needs.
TECHNOLOGY NEED: We need technology partners to help us design an innovative, efficient solution that will help our 3,000 families on the childcare waiting lists today, and all of our future families who will be faced with the difficult decision of who will care for their child.
OFFICE OF CONTRACT ADMINISTRATION (OCA) with COMMITTEE ON INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (COIT): PURCHASING CHATBOT FOR CITY DEPARTMENTS
CONTEXT: Every year, the City and County of San Francisco spends hundreds of millions of dollars on goods and services provided by private sector businesses, many of whom are based in the Bay Area. Commerce between the government and businesses can be a confusing and frustrating process because of the numerous rules involved that are difficult for individuals to read and understand. OCA would like to leverage emerging technologies to make the procurement process easier, and to standardize the purchasing guidance provided to City employees.
TECHNOLOGY NEED: OCA seeks a solution that City employees can download onto their smartphones to guide them through the procurement process. The solution would provide guidance to users on the following subjects: a) How best to purchase items or services on behalf of the City; b) Which Administrative Code rules apply to common purchasing scenarios; c) Which IT purchases are best handled through the Tech Marketplace; d) Where to access necessary compliance forms used in procurement. The solution could be a software or mobile tool, including but not limited to a chatbot.
ARTS COMMISSION: DIGITIZING THE WEEKLY SPACE ASSIGNMENT LOTTERY PROCESS FOR LOCAL ARTS
CONTEXT: San Francisco street artists are licensed to sell in specific locations throughout the city. These locations have been mapped onto static documents, but due to the nature of street use, multiple agencies, and citywide events, these locations are constantly changing and temporarily affected by a multitude of projects. The Arts Commission seeks a solution that would allow for the easy mapping of these locations, editing of the maps, and notification of real-time use from other City agencies and non-city projects, as well as the ability to track everyday use by street artists. Part of the everyday use of the street artist spaces is managed through an in-person lottery. This is an administratively heavy undertaking that is currently managed by volunteers. It is the Arts Commission’s wish to align our technological solution for mapping and use of the sites with the daily lottery. It would be best if the solution would allow for data collection on the spaces claimed in the lottery. Here are links to a description of the Arts Commission’s current lottery process, and its current list of maps and locations: http://www.sfartscommission.org/street_artists_program/lottery/index.html, and http://www.sfartscommission.org/street_artists_program/maps/index.html
TECHNOLOGY NEED: The Arts Commission seeks a solution to map street artist locations, notify real-time use of locations by city agencies and other projects, conduct weekly artist lotteries, and tracking everyday use by street artists.
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH (DPH): STREAMLINING REPORTING AND EVALUATION TOOL FOR CHILDREN AND PATIENTS WITH PHYSICAL AND DISABILING CONDITIONS
CONTEXT: DPH provides outpatient physical and occupational therapies for children with long term disabling conditions. The clients are evaluated regularly and the information in these reports is critical for determining services, planning treatment, and facilitating team communication. In order to improve the quality of the evaluation reports our therapists write regarding its clients, DPH developed an evaluation template. DPH seeks assistance to streamline this template and allow for more flexibility in its use. This would increase DPH’s efficiency, free up more staff time to address treatment needs, and provide a more useful and complete report.
TECHNOLOGY NEED: DPH’s Children’s Services Medical Therapy Program seeks a solution that will streamline the reporting template for patients of physical and occupational therapies for children with long term disabling conditions.
DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN RESOURCES: MOBILE TOOL FOR STREAMLINING SPONTANEOUS VOLUNTEERS FOR DISASTER RECOVERY EFFORTS
CONTEXT: During a major disaster, the City’s Department of Human Resources is responsible for registering volunteers and deploying them for the City. The current registration process includes manual entry and there is no formal tracking system.
TECHNOLOGY NEED: In an effort to modernize and utilize technology, DHR hopes to develop a solution that efficiently solves the problem of registration/intake, deployment, tracking, and communicating with volunteers.
SAN FRANCISCO SENTENCING COMMISSION: WEB-BASED RECIDIVISM ANALYSIS DASHBOARD
CONTEXT: To date, there has been no comprehensive analysis of justice system outcomes in San Francisco. Recidivism analysis is essential to develop an understanding of the effectiveness of various crime prevention, diversion and rehabilitation efforts. The recidivism data that San Francisco does have is not packaged in a way to maximize impact and grab the attention of key decision makers. Furthermore, three separate reports from the Haywood Burns Institute, San Francisco Sentencing Commission, and JFA Associates have all concluded that significant gaps in the City’s data collection, data sharing, and subsequent analysis inhibit the equitable and efficient administration of justice.
TECHNOLOGY NEED: The San Francisco Sentencing Commission seeks to develop and implement a web-based justice system recidivism analysis dashboard, integrating data from multiple law enforcement agencies. The dashboard will support the development of data-driven sentencing and supervision policies and further enable San Francisco to assess progress in reducing racial and ethnic disparities in the criminal justice system. This resource will help San Francisco advance the objectives identified in the MacArthur Safety and Justice Challenge.
OUR CHILDREN OUR FAMILIES COUNCIL (OCOF): ONE-STOP SHOP WEB PORTAL AND SERVICES DIRECTORY FOR YOUTH AND FAMILIES
CONTEXT: OCOF seeks to create a comprehensive digital service directory, which would include all publicly-funded and publicly-administered services for youth (up to 24 years old) and their families including health and human services, activities, childcare, housing, health care, legal aid, etc. The end result would be a digital directory that connects disparate data sets into one holistic portal to increase accessibility and uptake of services to help San Francisco families thrive. Intended users are parents, teachers, counselors, youth, community based organizations, and city departments. The site would have one entry point (e.g., homepage) that links to multiple search portals, which are unique to a particular data structure, user segment or issue (e.g., transition aged youth (TAY), child care, housing). This is critical as the search criteria and database structure for each are different (e.g., for housing, the filters would include number of rooms and rent, whereas for summer camps the filters would include dates and ages of children). Currently, service data is decentralized and often inaccessible to the populations most in need. Multiple directories and portals exist for families to get information but none of them are comprehensive. For example, 211 (211bayarea.org) provides basic health and human services listings, but does not include out-of-school activities, in-school services, child care openings, affordable housing listings, or medical support groups. Much of the current service data is locked in proprietary silos maintained by individual organizations in different formats and is inaccessible to other departments, agencies, and stakeholders.
TECHNOLOGY NEED: OCOF seeks a web-based Digital Service Directory including (1) a flexible homepage with the ability to expand to become a one-stop portal for all types of services and (2) a well-designed search portal for health and human services using an existing database that would serve as a template for other search portals with their own databases (e.g., child care, activities, housing). The tool would be developed to be flexible and open enough to enable future development of other search portals linked to other datasets (or a combination of datasets). The tool should be easily navigable for families of all income levels and other barriers (see equity lens section of the OCOF Outcomes Framework) including use of icons, search filters, maps and other user accounts/logins.
REAL ESTATE DIVISION-CITY HALL BUILDING MANAGEMENT (RED-CHBM): A MOBILE SOLUTION THAT ENHANCES THE CITY HALL EXPERIENCE FOR SF RESIDENTS AND VISITORS
CONTEXT: RED-CHBM manages San Francisco City Hall, the crown jewel of the City’s real estate assets. As a national historic landmark, RED-CHBM takes great care and pride to make City Hall accessible and welcoming to both citizens and visitors. City Hall initiated an electronic kiosk located at all four entrances to the building that offers users office location and wayfinding guidance, translated from English to Chinese, Filipino, Spanish and Russian.
TECHNOLOGY NEED: RED-CHBM seeks to improve the City Hall experience by creating a mobile solution that can work in concert with the building’s electronic kiosk system, to improve wayfinding in City Hall. In addition, RED-CHBM would like to explore the possibilities of “onthe- fly” translations for both the kiosk and the mobile app to allow for more current information about meetings and events in City Hall. Ideally, this would include digitizing meeting agendas and public events at City Hall. As the City’s Language Access Ordinance requires RED-CHBM to translate relevant information in the above languages, the ability to translate is essential. The wayfinding portion of the app should be able to direct visitors and SF residents to various City Hall offices to conduct business or to any of our public areas. City Hall has unique architectural features that we would like the wayfinding portion of this app to explain, written or in audio form, in any of the languages covered under the Language Access Ordinance.
TREASURER’S OFFICE OF FINANCIAL EMPOWERMENT (OFE): DATA MAPPING AND VISUALIZATION TOOL OF PROGRAMS AND SERVICES AVAILABLE TO LOW-INCOME SAN FRANCISCANS
CONTEXT: The OFE was created to equip poor and low-income San Franciscans with the knowledge, skills and access they need to achieve greater financial security. Empowered people create and expand businesses, raise healthy families, support their community, and contribute to the tax base so critical to a sustainable city. OFE often receives questions about its programs and their impact that are difficult for OFE to answer, such as where OFE targets its programs and services and the impact that they are making in different neighborhoods. OFE would like to improve visualization of such data for better internal planning, and communications.
TECHNOLOGY NEED: OFE is interested in using technology to tell the story of poverty and financial insecurity in San Francisco, across neighborhoods and communities, and to use technology to share impact of its programs and services on the communities. OFE would like to use mapping and data visualization to tell the story of vulnerability in San Francisco and provide insight into where OFE should target its programs and services and what impact they make.
RECREATION AND PARKS DEPARTMENT (RPD): DYNAMIC VISITOR COUNTER & VISUAL ANALYSIS TOOL FOR SF CITY PARKS
CONTEXT: Business experts often repeat that if you don’t count it, it doesn’t count. Therefore, if it is truly central to the enterprise, it must be measured, tracked, counted, reported, and managed. But in a world with increasing reliance on data, and a public expectation that governments make resource allocation decisions based on accurate and complete information, RPD is struggling to count the most basic metric of our work: how many people are visiting our parks? Not knowing how many people use City parks creates operational challenges and leaves RPD to manage by anecdote, rather than data. If technology could help RPD understand how many people use the City’s parks, when, with what frequency and duration, RPD could right-size staffing, prepare for peak use, optimize recreational programs (like day, time, or age group), prioritize capital investment, and advocate for resources that match demand. RPD’s search for solutions has led to the following conclusions: in-person surveys are expensive; ‘off-the-shelf’ solutions are suitable for indoor environments; and, cameras with counting algorithms are also expensive and require complex installation.
TECHNOLOGY NEED: RPD seeks an affordable, scalable, portable technology that would count visitors in parks with open perimeters, sidewalk trees, changes in elevation, and adjacent pedestrian traffic that is not entering a park.
RECREATION AND PARKS DEPARTMENT AND DEPARTMENT OF THE ENVIRONMENT: AN EMERGING TECHNOLOGY THAT HELPS TO MAKE THE CITY MORE CLEAN, SAFE AND LIVABLE
CONTEXT: San Francisco, named after the patron saint of animals, is infamous for having more dogs (150,000) than children (120,000). Many of these dogs enjoy daily exercise on public sidewalks, parks, and natural areas, where their owners can conveniently leave waste in trash cans for the City to remove. In fact, an estimated 32 million pounds of dog poop is left in our trash cans annually. It is then sent to landfill at public expense and significant environmental consequence. Dog poop creates methane, a greenhouse gas far more destructive than carbon dioxide. Doing some simple math, San Francisco’s dogs generate 51 million cubic feet of unburned methane – enough to power more than 120,000 light bulbs for one year. Compounding the problem, an estimated 30% of dog owners leave (some or all of the) dog poop where it lands; either on the sidewalk, where it washes down storm drains to damage aquatic habitat or worse or even worse, camouflaged in the grass to be discovered by a park visitor.
TECHNOLOGY NEED: The Recreation and Parks Department and Department of the Environment are seeking a technical solution to dog poop that would make our City more clean, safe, and livable for all? The market for methane capture and energy conversion has focused on cows, but per pound of body weight, dogs produces 10 times the fecal coliform of a cow. Our Green City (and many other dog-friendly jurisdictions), desperately needs a park-sized, affordable solution that could convert the methane from dog poop into electricity. If the technology could also bring interactive fun, in San Francisco maker-style, then our City would continue to lead the world in progressive, inventive, urgently-needed solutions for living in harmony with each other and the planet.
MAYOR’S OFFICE OF HOUSING & COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT (MOHCD): AFFORDABLE HOUSING FEASIBILITY AND ANALYSIS TOOL
CONTEXT: One of MOHCD’s core missions is to provide financing for the development, rehabilitation and purchase of affordable housing in San Francisco. MOHCD staff are always on the look-out for cost-effective land and building acquisitions for affordable housing development, and multiple land or building owners and brokers contact MOHCD every week with information and proposing to MOHCD the purchase of their parcels. Currently, MOHCD assesses the suitability of each site for potential affordable housing development the old-fashioned way: by checking zoning requirements and sketching out each proposed building manually.
TECHNOLOGY NEED: Design a software solution that would allow MOHCD staff to quickly evaluate whether a land parcel or building is suitable for affordable housing development. The solution should produce digital feasibility drawings of parcels that include building massings based on the City’s zoning controls. A tool is needed that can incorporate inputs from non-architectural MOHCD staff (proposed unit types, bedroom size, community space requirements, open space requirements, and per-unit comparable cost values) and provide cost estimates and conceptual architectural designs for each possible development.
City of Oakland
HUMAN SERVICES AGENCY / MAYOR’S OFFICE: FINANCIAL SERVICES NAVIGATION TOOL: HELP GUIDE LOW-INCOME OAKLAND RESIDENTS THROUGH FINANCIAL SERVICES AND MONEY MANAGEMENT PROGRAMS BASED UPON NON-FINANCIAL SERVICES PROGRAMS THEY MAY ALREADY BE RECEIVING
CONTEXT: Regional social services provider, Eden I & R, runs 2-1-1 Alameda County, which has handled nearly 900,000 calls from individuals, families, and their advocates throughout the county. The service connects them to critical health, housing, and human service resources. Additionally, 2-1-1 Alameda County maintains local and regional partnerships to prepare for and respond to disasters, and updates program and service information regularly for free or low-cost financial services and money management programs that are available to Oakland residents through nonprofit and government agencies. Currently, 2-1-1 includes 2,900 programs in their Services Database and recently migrated to an online database that allows for resource sharing through an available API. 2-1-1 will be launching a mobile device responsive website in early spring 2017, but is in need of additional features to help residents navigate services.
TECHNOLOGY NEED: A tool to help guide the residents of Oakland through the various financial services and money management programs based upon the non-financial services programs they may already be receiving. Enhancements to the new portal, such as links to financial services from transit pages, for example, as a way for residents receiving non-financial services programs to have greater awareness of the programs that exist and their eligibility. Links to educational resources across service providers and building out real time online chat capabilities through the website to allow for a form of an initial small intake that is done while the person is waiting for the chat to occur on the service provider’s site. Another option would be building an application through the existing API to address the level of resource sharing between agencies and guidance for residents needs or embedding resource search capability within the City of Oakland website.
HUMAN SERVICES AGENCY / MAYOR’S OFFICE: FINANCIAL SERVICES INVENTORY AND DATA WAREHOUSE TO SHARE DATA AMONG SERVICE PROVIDERS MORE SEAMLESSLY
CONTEXT: An estimated 32% of Oakland residents are unbanked or under-banked (based on CFED 2016 Family Asset Counts Report) and service providers lack the infrastructure for collecting and sharing data to determine appropriate interventions. Over 10 stakeholders have been convened and will be available to provide support to the chosen company for design and implementation of the solution. Residents and service providers alike need to have better understanding and education around the different services available so residents can receive a holistic suite of services.
TECHNOLOGY NEED: An inventory of current financial services and a data collection solution to identify low-income residents and inform them of services they may be eligible for based on services they may already receive. The data warehouse would allow for services and service providers to better share data and work together on improving service delivery to residents.
HUMAN SERVICES AGENCY / CITY ADMINISTRATOR’S OFFICE / MAYOR’S OFFICE: MOBILE APP TO INCREASE FINANCIAL LITERACY, ASSET-BUILDING AND MAPPING OF AVAILABLE SERVICES FOR LOW-INCOME RESIDENTS
CONTEXT: Approximately 47% of residents in Oakland are currently Asset Poor* (i.e., don’t have enough savings to live above poverty line for three months) and several City departments are working to meet their needs. (*CFED 2016 Family Asset Counts Report). Residents and service providers alike currently do not have a comprehensive understanding of where services are being offered and to whom. Residents can better leverage resources and deepen their financial empowerment goals with increased education about services. Empowered people create and expand businesses, raise healthy families, support their community, and contribute to the tax base so critical to a sustainable city. Similarly, service providers can reduce duplicative efforts and provide more targeted service delivery if they are informed about which residents are receiving additional services and from where.
TECHNOLOGY NEED: The City of Oakland’s low-income residents are in need of a mobile-based solution that makes financial literacy and asset-building easy, fun and relevant. Some ideas include a scavenger hunt for the City’s financial services and creating ways for residents to share their experiences with other residents, service providers and the larger community. Mapping and data visualization tools are also desired features of the app, which will help provide insight into where the City should target its programming, as well as aid residents in locating services and understanding how service providers work together. A desired outcome would be that the app helps tell the story of economic security and asset poverty in Oakland, across neighborhoods and communities, and to share the impact of its programs and services.
City of San Leandro
SAN LEANDRO IT DEPARTMENT: RESIDENT PERSONALIZATION FOR WEBSITE
CONTEXT: When residents use the City’s various digital services, the experience can be disjointed and frustrating as they end up with multiple accounts (one for each service). They may not even realize the breadth of digital services the City has available. Meanwhile, the City has no way of easily accessing contact information for its 90,000+ residents and many more visitors, nor understanding their specific interests in City services. Individual outreach efforts by City Staff end up being very time consuming. In addition, there is a missed opportunity to foster civic engagement by matching City services (i.e., volunteer opportunities) with residents’ individual interests.
TECHNOLOGY NEED: San Leandro IT is interested in creating a personalized digital experience for residents, akin to commercial technology such as Amazon, Netflix, and Google. In this manner, residents would have a way of creating and managing their City profile information, and identifying preferences for City communications such as events, volunteer opportunities, emergency notifications, etc. In addition, the software should be able to make recommendations to residents based on their interests. The second component would be to aggregate these new City profiles with existing City data sources (including: email contact lists, CRMs, web accounts, etc.) to create a “Master” profile record of the Resident. These master profile records would need to be updated monthly, at minimum.
TECHNOLOGY NOTE: San Leandro is highly interested in hearing about Blockchain-based solutions for this challenge.
However, Blockchain technology is not a requirement and San Leandro will make its final selection based on the overall evaluation of each applicant.
SAN LEANDRO LIBRARY: GET TO KNOW SAN LEANDRO
CONTEXT: San Leandro is in the midst of revitalization. While the City is seeing tremendous growth, it is at risk of becoming a commuter city. Creating a mobile opportunity for residents and visitors to engage with San Leandro’s various historic, artistic and natural assets could result in higher civic engagement, pride, better business, and more stewardship. Additionally, it would provide an opportunity to obtain use statistics and feedback for the various sites. There is no mechanism currently in place to collect feedback from the 90,000+ residents and visitors that might visit these areas of interest.
TECHNOLOGY NEED: San Leandro is home to a number of historic, artistic, and natural assets–many of which are within the downtown area. These sites include: Casa Peralta, San Leandro History Museum, San Leandro Creek, San Leandro History Walk and Truth is Beauty. Unfortunately, many residents and visitors are unaware of their existence. The city is seeking a mobile-driven solution that encourages interaction.
City of West Sacramento
WEST SACRAMENTO PARKS AND RECREATION: SPECIAL EVENT PERMITTING APPLICATION
CONTEXT: The West Sacramento Parks and Recreation Department maintains all public parks and trails within the City, schedules and staffs private and special events in City parks and buildings, operates a full service recreation center, and community center, and offers a variety of recreation activities to all ages. Additionally they operate two preschools, and a quality in early care and education program serving all preschools within City limits. The Parks Department administers the City’s Special Event Permit process, which applies to public or private events that meet certain thresholds. The software currently in use to track special event permit applications is not user friendly, and does not facilitate timely review of applications or the tracking of relevant information for the City.
TECHNOLOGY NEED: Parks and Recreation seeks a software product that will improve the City’s review of Special Event Permit applications by reducing the potential for human error, better tracking revenue, ensuring needed information is collected, and avoiding duplicative requests of staff. The software should be capable of showing all available venues for rental by the public or staff, and should include a simple, user-friendly, application with user inputs driving distinct back-end approval processes for different types of event. Revenue should be tracked in order to identify income and expense for rental facilities and staff should be able to easily and quickly pull up a Special Events permit request, or generate an invoice.
THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND HOUSING DEPARTMENT: FEE ESTIMATOR CALCULATOR
CONTEXT: The Economic Development and Housing Department is responsible for attracting and retaining businesses to the City of West Sacramento in order to promote economic prosperity and continuously improve the quality of life for West Sacramento residents. Economic Development staff frequently work directly with businesses that are considering relocating to West Sacramento. As part of their site selection processes, developers and property owners frequently request estimates of City permit and development fees. These estimates are currently prepared through a time-intensive, manual process that requires review of multiple fee schedules.
TECHNOLOGY NEED: The Economic Development and Housing Department is interested in an online fee estimate calculator that would allow developers, property owners and businesses to input known parameters of their conceptual development projects, and generate estimates of their permit and development fees. The customer-facing element of this program should be easy to use and have an appealing user interface. The City currently uses an Accela permit database with much of the fee calculation logic in it. The City is seeking a software program that would generate fee estimates by running user inputs through the fee calculation logic, which would be accessed through Accela’s open API. Ideally, this GIS-enabled program could be pre-loaded with zoning and other relevant information, and would be smart enough to flag user requests for fee estimates on problematic projects (e.g. a residential project located in an Open Space zone, or a property within a negotiated development fee schedule area.)