San Jose

United States


Sam Liccardo


1,050,000 (2017)

Innovation Website
Lead Innovation Officer

Shireen Santosham

Innovation is helping to:
  • Generate new sources of revenue

  • Engage residents and other stakeholders

  • Anticipate and manage future challenges

Critical success factors:
  • Focus on measurement

  • Dedicated innovation team

  • Human resource support

  • Leadership from Mayor

  • Culture of innovation in city

  • Engagement with partners

  • Support from outside city administration

Spotlight on innovation in San Jose

In 2016, San Jose adopted Smart City Vision, outlining the values and goals in order to make San Jose America’s most innovative city by 2020 through embracing technology to benefit the residents. Under this umbrella, the City has launched initiatives around open data, data analytics, broadband and digital inclusion, autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence and a mobile app for service delivery.

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 Jose has an explicit innovation strategy. Similar to 24% of cities surveyed, San Jose approaches innovation capacity in specific policy areas/domains.

Policy areas that San Jose is focused on

Broadband and digital inclusion
Policy areas by number of cities

San Jose utilizes 5 different innovation skills or roles

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

San Jose has both a centralized innovation team, as well as innovation staff in key city departments, in addition to leadership in the Mayor’s office.

Terms San Jose most associates with innovation

Technological innovation

San Jose's most common innovation activities

Taking risks and testing new ideas
e.g. prototyping new programs or models to address a persistent city challenge
Developing new solutions based on digital technologies
e.g. use of drones or smart sensors
Facilitating organizational change within the municipality
e.g. silo-busting; new internal performance management; staff training and capacity building on innovation tools or techniques; reforms to contracting or procurement
Human-centered design
e.g. prioritizing the end-user at each stage of the design process
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

How is innovation funded here?

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

Top sources of funding

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-public funding
Innovative financing tools
e.g. Social Impact Bonds, Crowdsourcing

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

San Jose also invests in digital systems and physical infrastructure with dedicated funding to support innovation.

How is innovation measured?

San Jose has developed partnerships to promote its innovation capacity with other public agencies, private firms, city residents/resident associations, and philanthropy. In particular, the city launched a number of innovative public private partnerships with companies like Facebook, Box and Airbnb.

To improve data use, the city has also developed data partnerships with other cities.

Data availability by policy area


Sufficient data


Economic Development

Housing and built environment

Policing and law enforcement


Waste and sewage

Labour market and skills

Environment and climate change


Social inclusion and equity

Public works


Digital governance

No Response