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2016 SF Brigade Year in Review

2016 was defined by broken politics. Dumpster fire was chosen as “best representing the public discourse and preoccupations of the past year.” While the world of politics looks completely dysfunctional, Code for San Francisco folks continue to meet in growing numbers, committed to the ideal that our politics and government can work better for people by leveraging technology.

San Francisco is uniquely positioned to demonstrate how much better government can serve the people when human centered design, open data, and technology are leveraged in smart ways. The open source movement began a Caltrain away in Palo Alto. There is no shortage of programmers, engineers, designers, and civic minded volunteers here. The city has been a leader on open data and continues to make significant progress on making more data accessible. Our brigade believes open source tools make it possible to build such solutions for free.

C4SF has created a safe place for a thriving community of of folks interested in improving civic life. On any given Wednesday, 50 to 70 people gather, with a core group helping to anchor projects and welcome and guide new attendees. San Francisco faces challenges on many fronts: homelessness, housing, crime, transportation, the environment, education, and civic engagement to name a few. The brigade has projects addressing many of these issues. The Brigade has also become an important place for recent boot camps grads and folks just moving to the Bay Area looking to network and meet others. So, what have we been up to? Read on!

Projects and/or Success Stories

Data Science Working Group

This is the team within C4SF that focuses on solving social good problems with data science which provides useful insights into real world problem. The Data Science Working Group Co-captains Sanat and Jude have led their teams on some solid wins:

Adopt a Drain

The brainchild of Jesse Biroscak, Jean Walsh, and Jason Lally in late 2015, the Adopt-a-Drain SF project came into its own in the fall of 2016 including: being adopted by the SF Public Utilities Commission as an official SF Water project; a number of volunteer events; and some local press. Originally a fork of Code for America’s Adopt-a-Hydrant, Code for San Francisco brigade members made a number of adjustments and added a number of features to make the project a success. To date almost 1400 drains have been adopted in San Francisco!


Masterminded by core team member, Oz Haven, this easy to deploy data portal and CMS for volunteer coding organizations could be become a model Brigade platform. See it in action.


Web-based tool for social service providers to store, update, and exchange social services information through a universal standard. We are solving the problem of quickly getting the right help to the right people, by making it easy to get the right information to the right people.

A radial search tool designed to facilitate SFPD responses to requests from colleges for information they need to comply with the Jeanne Clery Act. The project team recently presented at Apps4Change.

Interactive guide of resources for survivors of sexual assault allowing SFWAR volunteers to maintain a public and up-to-date directory.

Applies user-centered design, design thinking methods, and lots of post-it notes to improve C4SF projects and the Brigade experience. Developing a system for matching new volunteers with active projects based on skills, interests, & needs with the goal of incorporating this tool into Brigadehub.


C4SF has been a welcoming and supportive space for We Vote USA to build their social network for voters

2016 Events

In addition to our weekly hack night, C4Sf hosts and supports several large events throughout the year.

  • Demo Day: We held two dog and pony shows this year, it’s a great way to share with the community work in progress and the pressure of presenting helps teams refine their projects. Video from our May event

  • National Day of Civic Hacking: Weekend long event in June hosted by communities throughout the world.

  • CodeAcross: Code for America nodes across the world host civic hacking events, timed to coincide with International Open Data Day


  • UCSF Data Visualization: collaborated on a community research project that examined how alcohol impacts low income neighborhoods in San Francisco, resulting in a data visualization that will be used to help community advocates in neighborhood planning.

  • Water & Justice Panel

And now, a word for our sponsors

Microsoft has been a long standing supporting partner to C4SF. In addition we added several new sponsor in 2016 including Segment, DataBricks, SalesForce and Braintree.

What’s in store for 2017

Project Investment Fund

This may be the biggest news for the Brigade this year. MicroSoft is sponsoring $10,000 in direct grants to cover expenses on approved projects. Projects are invited to submit proposals for funding, to learn more, check out the blog post

Major Hacking Events for 2017

  • Open Data Day Saturday March 4 at Microsoft Reactor in SOMA.

  • National Day of Civic Hacking

The civic tech movement is entering a phase of transition, much of the early enthusiasm and idealism is still there, but also a lot of uncertainty of what happens next. Making government data open and available to citizens has never been more important. Code for America’s mission of people making government work for the people by the people is a powerful vision. How will the volunteers of the SF Brigade rise to this challenge? We need your help to develop our current projects and your contributions for ideas on what to build next. Join us at our next hack night, meet some awesome people, and get involved!

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