San Francisco, CA

San Francisco, CA

Smart Renovation in the Home of Innovation

San Francisco’s City Innovate Foundation is setting the stage for a revolution in city life driven by community empowerment, evidence-based policymaking, and private sector support—all encompassed within a commitment to making San Francisco smarter.


San Francisco is a diverse, well-loved, iconic American city. Its culture of innovation makes it a popular and fitting home for groundbreaking companies with unmatched access to investment capital (Uber and Salesforce, to name a few), not to mention the top technology workforce in the world. A robust population, however, can be a mixed blessing; for all of San Francisco’s successes, it faces challenges with traffic congestion, public safety, and significant demands on city services. The search for solutions can’t wait—the city is expected to grow by an additional 25% in population over the next two decades.

Which is why the City Innovate Foundation is honing in on specific goals for addressing the big-picture challenges: improving infrastructure, reducing transportation challenges, fighting crime and ensuring fair law enforcement, improving the delivery of city services, and enabling data-driven decisions by city government, all while fostering economic growth and entrepreneurship.

If that seems like a tall order, it is; but as the history of the city suggests, no hill is too high for San Franciscans to climb. The progress city leaders have made in applying smart solutions is already significant. San Francisco is consistently ranked among smart cities globally, thanks to projects like SFPark: a large-scale controlled parking pricing experiment to manage the availability of on-street parking, utilizing smart parking meters that change their prices according to location, time of day, and day of the week. Through SFPark, the city is able to keep 20% of spaces vacant on any given block.

With a number of both small and large Internet Service Providers providing gigabit-per-second networks to residential and business subscribers, San Francisco’s opportunity to leverage advanced networking is virtually limitless. Google Fiber (Webpass),, Fastmetrics, Wave, ATT and even Comcast offer this top-tier service. And as a Smart Gigabit Community, San Francisco can combine its gung-ho approach to smart city advancement with the community possibilities enabled by the strongest network: a human network. Because in the Bay Area, they have the technology—and they know how to use it.

Featured Project: Sewer System Improvement Program (SSIP)

Civic innovation in the Bay Area is happening below-ground, too: in partnership with Sigfox and a startup called Ayyeka, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission has piloted an advanced sewage monitoring system using an IoT communications network. Efficient sewage processing keeps cities working smoothly, but coastal cities such as San Francisco have the added challenge of dealing with tides that bring in saltwater. Through this network, however, utilities can obtain near real-time information not just on the speed and flow levels but saltwater intrusion (saltwater is harmful to many of the organisms essential to the treatment process). When fully operational, the program will reduce maintenance costs, increase treatment quality, and keep the City by the Bay beautiful (and smelling fresh).