How to Unleash Your Geek With ProspectSV and Mayor Sam Liccardo

 |   JonAndrew Hernandez, External Relations Intern at City of San José

Unleash Your Geek

San Jose boasts the most innovative community on the planet. As the home to many of the Bay Area’s residents and its bona fide “geeks,” we are a community of makers, hackers, and problem-solvers.  We need your help!  Unleash Your Geek empowers our residents to contribute their ideas to solve the city’s most challenging problems. As residents answer our call, we predict that citizens will be even more engaged — both through applications of technical expertise new to City Hall and engaging many who might otherwise tune out.

Civic engagement matters. Engaged communities take better care of each other, work together, and are more dynamic to live in.  They often exhibit higher amounts of what “Bowling Alone” author Robert D. Putnam called, “Social capital.” Essentially, communities that bowl together often start PTA meetings, neighborhood watches, book clubs or more. In the 21st century, “bowling together” can be conducting a hackathon or submitting an idea—it’s all a part of creating an online community of residents who want to help us build a better San José. And, in turn, we will help create a terrific social net that, perhaps best for the City, often doesn’t cost taxpayers a dime.

We wanted a tangible and visual problem that affects everyone. Residents don’t like graffiti—not only is it unsightly, but it also can demark gang activity. It’s a difficult problem to combat, but it’s also something we believe we can solve through the right technological breakthrough, and when we do, the solution can lift the spirits of the whole community. We first partnered with Silicon Valley Community Foundation, CalTrans, the USPTO, then, of course, ProspectSV and Microsoft. Bringing everybody together helped us move faster and put real resources behind the effort.

We want ideas that provide a tangible solution—whether cutting edge or through simply looking at the problem in a new way through a low-tech solution. We’ve already received a fair amount of ideas around using drones, and those are terrific. We’re open to robots, new paints, nonstick surfaces, and anything else that could solve the problem in a way that saves money and keeps our workers safe. Currently, it can cost up to $60,000 every time we clean the graffiti, and results are ephemeral – vandals replace graffiti a week after the city cleans it up. Solving that problem may mean we have to rethink any part of the graffiti producing process, which we welcome.

What are you waiting for? Submit your idea today!

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