San Francisco

United States


London Breed


870,887 (2016)

Innovation Website
Lead Innovation Officer

Krista Canellakis

Innovation is helping to:
  • Improve internal government operations

  • Improve service delivery

  • Save costs and improve efficiency within the public sector

Critical success factors:
  • Dedicated funding

  • Dedicated innovation team

  • Leadership from Mayor

  • Engagement with partners

Spotlight on innovation in San Francisco

San Francisco’s innovation team works primarily in facilitating partnerships between City Departments and public-private partnerships. The team consists of a Chief Innovation Officer, a director of partnerships, and two innovation fellows. The City use the fellowship program to bring in talented staff who are new to government but can bring specific skillsets for the programs of each year. Many of the fellows go on to work in other roles for the City after this one-year program.

Note: The City Innovation Snapshot (PDF version) was produced in 2019 and some aggregate findings have been updated with the latest survey results below.

Vision and approach to innovation capacity

Along with 50% of cities surveyed, San Francisco has an explicit innovation strategy. Similar to 20% of cities surveyed, San Francisco approaches innovation capacity from a holistic/macro level.

Policy areas that San Francisco is focused on

Public works
Policy areas by number of cities

San Francisco utilizes 3 different innovation skills or roles

Project manager
Data scientist
Innovation roles by number of cities

As independent teams, San Francisco has one team of 4 staff led by Chief Innovation Officer and another team of 4 staff led by Chief Data Officer.

Terms San Francisco most associates with innovation

Human-centered design
Capacity expansion through partnerships

San Francisco's most common innovation activities

Taking risks and testing new ideas
e.g. prototyping new programs or models to address a persistent city challenge
Promoting data-driven analytics / public data management
e.g. data storage/analytics; open data; big data
Developing new solutions based on digital technologies
e.g. use of drones or smart sensors
Rethinking approaches to financing and partnerships
e.g. new public-private-partnerships; collaboration with neighboring jurisdictions
  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

Its innovation activities also often include facilitating organizational change within the municipality and human-centered design.

How is innovation funded here?

Like 81% of cities surveyed, San Francisco has dedicated funding to support innovation capacity.

Top sources of funding

Higher levels of government
Municipal budget
Municipal budget
This could include, for instance, City Council approved funds; operating budget; a special funding process (bond, Mayoral special initiative funding, etc.); and participatory budgeting / citizen-selected budgeting.
Non-financial resources
Non-financial resources
This could include staff on loan and/or other in-kind contributions (e.g. materials, infrastructure…)

Activities being funded

Launching or sustaining a project
Idea generation & brainstorming
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

How is innovation measured?

San Francisco has developed partnerships to promote its innovation capacity with other public agencies, private firms, and not-for-profit organizations.

To improve cross-sector collaboration, the city has also developed public-private partnership programs to accelerate problem-solving on Mayoral priorities.

Data availability by policy area


Sufficient data


Economic Development

Housing and built environment

Policing and law enforcement


Waste and sewage

Environment and climate change

Social inclusion and equity

Digital governance



Public works


No Response

Labour market and skills