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Civic Innovation

Smart City Vision

On March 29, 2016, City Council unanimously approved a plan to transform San José into the most innovative city in America by 2020.

The Smart City Vision creates a framework for innovation that aligns the City organization around:

  • core values that support the City’s innovation imperative;
  • prioritized, high impact, and community-oriented work, and;
  • a focused execution strategy that builds capacity by leveraging new tools, approaches and skillsets.

The Smart City Vision articulates broad outcomes spanning five domains—to make San Jose as safe, inclusive, user-friendly, and sustainable as possible, and demonstrate the possibilities of technology and innovation along the way.

To drive implementation of this vision, the City created the Office of Civic Innovation & Digital Strategy (Innovation Team) within the Office of the City Manager in August 2016.

The Office of Civic Innovation and Digital Strategy (Innovation Team) is charged with improving the efficiency and effectiveness of City services and executing the City’s Smart City Vision.

Our projects currently underway include broadband investment, small cell installation, bridging the digital divide, creating a citywide Internet of Things strategy, and making City services more user-friendly for residents and businesses.

Innovation Roadmap

In its first 100 days, the Innovation Team worked with the Civic Innovation Cabinet of department directors to establish the first ever Innovation Roadmap, comprised of 21 priority projects that focus the City’s innovation work, including;

  • high impact implementation at scale,
  • strategy/demonstration/pilot projects, and
  • capacity building.

This first iteration of the Innovation Roadmap is focused on a limited set of projects that are important, core, and achievable.

  • Important – Is the problem causing a lot of our residents or businesses pain or annoyance?
  • Core – Is the problem something our City can and should solve?
  • Achievable – Is the problem solvable at scale using technology or process improvement?

Since that time, the Innovation Team has developed the second iteration, entitled Smart City Roadmap 2.0.

Innovation Principles

As important as what projects we choose are the principles that guide how we do our work.

  • Champion the Customer: We empathize with our customer, focus on their needs, and do the hard work to deliver an effortless experience,
  • Learn through Data: We measure performance with data to continuously improve our services, and
  • Iterate to Improve: We rapidly iterate, reflect, and learn from failure or success before scaling.

We believe that innovation is Powered by our People. Our approach seeks to amplify the expertise of the City’s own workforce by cultivating the best ideas and actions of our people.

Broadband Strategy and Small Cell Deployment

To successfully implement the City’s Digital Inclusion and Broadband Strategy, the City is partnering with telecommunication companies that use small cell antennas frequently installed on City property, such as streetlights and traffic lights. Small cells offer enhanced voice and data capacity citywide, improve emergency communication capability, and pave the way for the equitable deployment of 5G broadband technology through Small Cell Deployment.