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 programme to bring in talented staff who are new to government but can bring specific skillsets for the programmes of each year. Many of the fellows go on to work in other roles for the City after this one-year programme.

Vision and approach to innovation capacity

Along with 44% of cities surveyed, San Francisco has an explicit innovation strategy. Similar to 24% 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 organisational change within the municipality and human-centred design.

How is innovation funded here?

Like 77% 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
55 cities
Launching or sustaining a project
53 cities
Idea generation & brainstorming
3 cities
Investing in digital systems
2 cities
Investing in physical infrastructure
2 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 organisations.

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