This past June, San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom announced that city data from the SFEnvironment website would be used in an iPhone app to help residents find recycling drop-off points. Now the mayor (and future California governor?) is taking his government 2.0 policy to a new level with DataSF, a website offering 100 city data sets on everything from crime incidents to the planting date, location, and species of street trees.
The mayor doesn’t just want DataSF to be used for casual browsing–he writes on TechCrunch that the site could “create a torrent of innovation similar to when the developer community
was given access to the platforms behind popular technologies and
devices like Facebook and Apple’s iPhone.” That’s an ambitious statement, to say the least. Facebook and iPhone developers come from around the world, while no one outside San Francisco is likely to develop apps from DataSF. But in a city known for its tech expertise, some interesting applications are bound to pop up out of the DataSF raw feed. Newsom imagines iPhone applications that show restaurant ratings based on health code violations or rental listings sorted by city crime statistics.
A quick look at the DataSF site reveals that there are plenty of improvements to be made. Restaurant data is the only listing in the “Health” section (where are the hospitals?) and “Transportation” contains nothing more than schedule data. Still, it’s a start. The federal government may have Data.gov for raw data feeds, but San Francisco is by far the leader in city government transparancy.