In City Hall, Chief Data Officer Joy Bonaguro directs efforts to ensure that the broadest, best use of data is embedded in the City’s culture through DataSF, a team responsible for maintaining the City’s open data portal and supporting staff with data. DataSF offers a four-month engagement to departments that identify a challenge ripe for data science. Receiving the assistance is a two-way street, however, so each department must remain committed to a service change, if that’s where the data leads. The first cohort has been tackling issues that include keeping WIC-eligible women and their infants enrolled in a nutrition program and increasing eviction prevention.
Since 2014, Data Academy, a partnership between DataSF and the Controller’s Performance Unit, has grown from a handful of workshops on data visualization to nearly 20 courses on behavioral economics, information design, lean process mapping, and more. The goal, according to Bonaguro, is to “empower staff with the data skills that help them thrive.” In turn, they’re helping the City thrive as well. By March 2017, more than 1,700 city staff had attended training, and by taking what they’ve learned back to their teams, they are each saving an average of 1.4 hours weekly — translating into $1.7 million in savings annually for the City.
The City’s Performance Director, Peg Stevenson, notes that increasing staff capacity has prompted employees to help each other to problem-solve. There’s another ripple effect as well: policymakers are more frequently asking for data, and there are clear benefits for residents, too.
As the City continues to apply data to efforts promoting “real-time democracy on the ground,” as Bonaguro describes Fix-It, residents like Judy are showing up and demanding it.
She may just be starting to see the presence of Fix-It in her neighborhood, but Judy already seems to have a hunch that the effect of small fixes can really add up.
“It’s these little things that make your life good or bad,” she says.
Read more about San Francisco’s data journey here.