On Feb. 7, California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and Code for America announced the launch of the Citizenville Challenge -- a call for local government leaders to commit to working toward a government for the 21st century.
“There is huge potential to use technology to transform the way government and citizens interact, communicate and solve problems," Newsom said in a press release. "During my seven years as mayor of San Francisco, I learned firsthand how important it is to have local government committed to driving this change. We are challenging local leaders across the country to push the boundaries of innovation to advance government to work for the citizenry of the 21st century."
Already, Austin, Texas; Fresno, Calif.; Oakland, Calif.; Philadelphia and San Francisco have accepted the challenge, and they urge other cities to do the same.
City leaders who accept the challenge can opt to do one or more of the following to advance their governments:
- Adopt a standardized data format. Increase interoperability by releasing data in a standard format, like LIVES for restaurant inspection data or GTFS for transit data.
- Implement a Gov 2.0 policy. Lay the framework for successful innovation by instituting an open data initiative or social media policy.
- Launch a citizen engagement app. Empower your citizens to take an active role in improving their own community with apps like Adopta, Street Bump, the CPR app, and the San Francisco Rec and Park app.
- Host a community event. Bring citizens and city staff together to solve civic problems with an event like a CityCamp, CivicMeet, or app contest.
- Make innovation part of how your city does business by creating an innovation office or working group, or establishing new gov 2.0 roles in city hall like a Chief Innovation Officer.
- Create civic APIs. Help citizens and developers fully access the value of your open data by creating an Application Programming Interface, like the Open311 API that has been adopted by cities across the country.
"The Citizenville Challenge highlights the incredible work cities and citizens are doing to make government work for the 21st Century,” said Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, who is also president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. “I encourage other mayors to take the challenge ... to institutionalize entrepreneurial civic innovation by advancing more open, participatory and transparent government in their cities and collaborate with the broad network of cities working in this space.”
Innovation drives solutions to long-standing social and civic challenges, while building a stronger economy, said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, adding that this this "is why we continue to support and promote innovation in both the civic and private sectors -- to create a better San Francisco. We encourage all cities to join us in taking the Citizenville Challenge and would be happy to collaborate and share best practices nationally and globally."
Code for America will work with the city leaders who sign on to determine next steps and provide support for implementing the innovation initiatives that the city chooses to pursue.