San Diego, CA

United States


Kevin L. Faulconer


1,430,000 (2018)

Innovation Website
Lead Innovation Officer

Alex Hempton

Innovation is helping to:
  • Improve internal government operations

  • Improve service delivery

  • Improve resident outcomes

Critical success factors:
  • Focus on measurement

  • Leadership from Mayor

Spotlight on innovation in San Diego, CA

San Diego has designed a mobile app called ‘Get It Done’, that allows citizens to report quality of life problems and request fixes directly to the administration. Residents can upload a formal complaint regarding issues like graffiti, pot holes, or illegal dumping with a precise location, description, and photo. The app also offers scheduling for passport renewal and collection of hazardous material. The city of San Diego receives 20,000 reports through the app each month, underscoring how effective interfacing between citizens and government can be when forged through innovation to improve well-being.

Vision and approach to innovation capacity

Along with 50% of cities surveyed, San Diego, CA does not have an explicit innovation strategy. Similar to 24% of cities surveyed, San Diego, CA approaches innovation capacity in specific policy areas/domains.

Policy areas that San Diego, CA is focused on

Public works
Environment and climate change

Water: Efficient water use is a way of life in San Diego. Pure Water is the City of San Diego's phased, multi-year program that will provide one-third of San Diego's water supply locally by 2035. The Pure Water San Diego Program will use scientifically-proven water purification technology to clean recycled water to produce safe, high-quality drinking water. The program offers a cost-effective investment for San Diego's water needs and will provide a reliable, sustainable water supply.

Environment/climate change: In October 2019, the City released a draft Mobility Action Plan to address changing mobility needs and improve access to opportunities for all San Diegans. The Mobility Division would monitor and report on identified goals, actions, and policies, as well as work with community partners to promote environmentally-friendly transportation alternatives. Zero net energy is used to describe homes, buildings, and communities that generate as much renewable energy as they use. Through a grant from the California Energy Commission, the City of San Diego is working on a multi-year project to upgrade three libraries to zero net energy in 2020. This project will demonstrate how all buildings can generate more power on site and reduce overall energy consumption.

Policy areas by number of cities

San Diego, CA utilizes 4 different innovation skills or roles

Project manager
Data scientist
Community engagement staff
Communication officer
Innovation roles by number of cities

San Diego’s innovation work is sprinkled throughout the municipal administration. As part of the Performance and Analytics Department, the city’s Technology and Innovation team consists of 6 staff.

Terms San Diego, CA most associates with innovation

Data analytics
Resident engagement

San Diego, CA's most common innovation activities

Promoting data-driven analytics / public data management
e.g. data storage/analytics; open data; big data
Engaging residents in new ways
  1. 1

    Taking risks or testing new ideas

  2. 2

    Data-driven analytics/public data management

  3. 3

    Engaging residents in new ways

  4. 4

    Developing new solutions based on digital technologies

  5. 5

    Organizational change within the municipality

  6. 6

    Human-centered design

  7. 7

    Rethinking your city’s approach to financing partnerships

How is innovation funded here?

Like 19% of cities surveyed, San Diego, CA does not have dedicated funding to support innovation capacity.

Top sources of funding

San Diego, CA has no reported sources of funding.

Activities being funded

San Diego, CA does not fund any specific activities.

47 cities
Launching or sustaining a project
79 cities
Idea generation & brainstorming
51 cities
Investing in digital systems
36 cities
Investing in physical infrastructure
30 cities
Paying for services

*"Training staff and building capacity" is not an option in the 2018 survey, while "Launching or sustaining a project" is not an option in the 2020 survey.

How is innovation measured?

San Diego has developed partnerships to promote innovation capacity with other public agencies, private firms, not-for-profit organizations, and city residents/resident associations.

To improve data use, the city has also developed data partnerships with academia and think tanks, to collect and analyze data, as well as with other cities.

Data availability by policy area


Sufficient data



Policing and law enforcement

Environment and climate change

Government finance

Waste and sewage


Public works

Digital governance

Land use

Social welfare/social services

Economic Development

Insufficient data


Labour market and skills

Social inclusion and equity

Built environment