Mayor Sam Liccardo unveiled his “Smart City Vision” plan Wednesday, and anyone expecting a fleshed-out proposal absent of buzzwords and clichés needs to get the tech out of here. San Jose intends to become the “most innovative city in the country” by 2020 and that’s all there is to it.
But, you may ask, what does this mean exactly?
“Just as the world looks to Silicon Valley to provide the most creative, impactful technologies to disrupt industries and transform lifestyles, so too San Jose can become a global leader for civic innovation,” Liccardo said in a statement. “Becoming a ‘smart city’ means that game-changing technologies and data-driven decision-making will drive continuous improvement in how city government serves our community, and promote concrete benefits in safety, sustainability, economic opportunity, and quality of life for our constituents.”
OK, so the game is about to be irreparably changed—for the better, of course.
Everyone would agree that the city’s permitting system needs a complete overhaul. Many renters would also argue that they need better protections. And a city that utilizes technology to address climate change and provide a more sustainable infrastructure should be applauded.
But beyond intending to use data analytics to pinpoint crime before it happens, or installing 1-gigabit broadband Internet in select neighborhoods, most of the initiatives and methods of implementation still seem very much in a whiteboard phase. The shortage of real-life human bodies also poses some issues, as safer streets and fewer potholes won’t come from code alone.
And it’s not clear how the recent resignation of the city’s IT director, Vijay Sammeta, will help or hurt efforts to become more technologically savvy. We can only hope the newly announced efforts are more successful than the city’s Wickedly Fast Wi-Fi Network, which on this St. Patrick’s Day remains wickedly awful three years after its launch.
Saying all of that, this is just the first step. The mayor plans to bring his Smart City Vision to the City Council on March 29.
Below is the full press release:
Building upon a key pillar of his 2nd State of the City Address, Mayor Liccardo formally unveiled his Smart City Vision—a comprehensive plan designed to make San Jose the most innovative city in the country by 2020.
“Just as the world looks to Silicon Valley to provide the most creative, impactful technologies to disrupt industries and transform lifestyles, so too San Jose can become a global leader for civic innovation,” Mayor Liccardo said. “Becoming a ‘smart city’ means that game-changing technologies and data-driven decision-making will drive continuous improvement in how City government serves our community, and promote concrete benefits in safety, sustainability, economic opportunity, and quality of life for our constituents.”
Mayor Liccardo’s Smart City Vision is centered around the following five key goals that are designed to make San Jose:
- A Safer City: Leverage technology to make San Jose the safest big city in America.
- An Inclusive City: Ensure all residents, businesses, and organizations can participate in and benefit from the prosperity and culture of innovation in Silicon Valley.
- A User-Friendly City: Create digital platforms to improve transparency, empower residents to actively engage in the governance of their city, and make City Hall more responsive to the complex and growing demands of our community.
- A Sustainable City: Utilize technology to address energy, water, and climate challenges to enable sustainable growth.
- A Demonstration City: Reimagine the City as a laboratory and platform for the most impactful, transformative technologies that will shape how we live and work in the future.
In releasing his Smart City Vision, Mayor Liccardo cited how enduring financial challenges and citizens’ evolving expectations have created an imperative for City Hall to fundamentally change the way it operates. At the same time, he proclaimed that living in “the most innovative community on the planet” provides a unique opportunity for San Jose to embrace technology to vastly improve city services.
“Together, these factors drive us to conclude that the City cannot continue providing the same services in the same ways,” continued Mayor Liccardo. “As we rebuild and restore service levels, we must embark on new approaches and new ideas. To thrive, San Jose must innovate.”
The Smart City Vision provides a comprehensive framework that aligns over a dozen key initiatives to fundamentally improve the way the City of San Jose serves its residents over the next four-and-a-half years. This include initiatives to:
- Expand use of data analytics to improve public safety, such as: more effectively deploying our limited police resources via “hot spot” crime prediction and prevention, better targeting code enforcement, and identifying homes with the highest fire risk for preventative measures.
- Digitize, automate, and integrate city services to be “user-friendly” such as by enabling online submission of all city forms and permit applications, and electronic payment for city fees.
- Broaden access to basic digital infrastructure for all residents, especially our youth, by enabling free or low-cost, 1 gigabit or faster broadband service in several low-income communities.
- Utilize open data in easily-usable and understandable formats to inform public dialog, policy-making, and management decisions, and to enable bright minds in the community to use that data to create service-enhancing applications.
- Build an “Internet of Things” platform, in partnership with innovative companies, which utilizes smart sensor technologies to improve safety, mobility, and optimize our transit system.
“We are embracing a holistic digital strategy that will become a core part of how we do business and help us serve our residents better,” said Shireen Santosham, Mayor Liccardo’s Chief Innovation Officer. “In particular, our vision focuses on initiatives where we can leverage technology and data analytics to truly drive performance and outcomes in public safety and other key areas that impact our residents. It’s an exciting time at San Jose City Hall.”
To drive his Smart City Vision, particularly in a time of limited resources, Mayor Liccardo has focused on leveraging the skills and expertise of the private sector, universities, foundations, and other outside organizations. See below for a list of partnerships forged to-date.
Mayor Liccardo will be bringing his Smart City Vision before the City Council for its consideration (tentatively set for the March 29 City Council meeting).
Upon adoption of the vision, the Mayor’s team will work with the City Administration to develop a detailed workplan for the upcoming year. In addition, a number of Smart City projects are already underway and will be formally unveiled in the coming months.
The City of San Jose’s current Smart City partners:
Bloomberg Philanthropies, White House MetroLab network, Code for America and the San Jose Brigade, Microsoft, John S. and John L. Knight Foundation, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Silicon Valley Leadership Group, San Jose/Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce, Citi Community Development, Robert Half International, Beeck Center for Social Impact & Innovation, PricewaterhouseCoopers, SPUR, Socrata, Trimble, Silver Springs Network, Phillips, anyComm, Prospect SV, Results for America, Sunlight Foundation, Behavior Insights Team, NextFlex, San Jose State University, Carnegie Mellon University, Santa Clara University, Stanford University, Harvard University, San Jose City College.