Fellowship Openings

Building a Safe City with Data & Technology

Project: Building a Safe City with Data & Technology

Agency: San José City Manager’s Office

Location: San Jose, CA

Project context

In 2016, San José adopted a Smart City Vision. One of the pillars of this vision is a “Safe City” with a directive to leverage technology to make San José the safest big city in America. The City’s recently published annual report highlighted the public’s desire for City officials to focus on improving public safety as one of their top priorities. Current development in the downtown area and strong projected growth over the next two decades add incentive for the city to understand how to leverage technology to expand their service provision. The three departments that are responsible for safety management are the San José Police Department (PD), Fire Department (FD) and Office of Emergency Management (OEM). All three departments recognize the opportunity that technology presents in addressing the existing gap in communications between departments and strengthening their ability to collectively respond to and plan for emergency situations.

San José has a history of innovation within its safety management team. In the 1990s, the city led the nation in developing a community policing program focused on getting resources into the neighborhoods that were most affected by drugs and associated gang violence. By creating programming for community centers, youth engagement and pathways to alternate employment, San Jose served as a national model for community policing and influenced federal efforts and the Department of Justice’s deployment of billions of dollars in investment and resources. City leaders see another opportunity to serve as a national model for civic innovation as it works to leverage data and technology for public safety and emergency management in the diverse and multicultural context of San José.

The City has embarked on a number of projects in line with the Smart City Vision. One successful project has been software to preemptively turn traffic signals from red to green for fire and police vehicles that are driving to high-priority incidents, significantly reducing the risk of injury when responding to emergencies. However, San José has yet to develop a unified approach to data and technology that links to department-level initiatives and supports the realization of a Safe City. The departments currently vary in their use of data-driven decision-making and technology and have generally approached use of technology in an ad hoc manner. A systemic and unified approach to Safe City would facilitate collaboration between departments during incidents requiring cross-departmental support, as well as bolster an individual department’s ability to fulfill its core functions. To support this work, San José will partner with FUSE Corps to host an executive-level fellow for one year who will work with the City to develop a roadmap for Safe City.

Project Summary & Potential deliverables

The following provides a general overview of the proposed fellowship project. This project summary and the potential deliverables that follow will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the fellow, and FUSE staff during the first few months of the fellowship, after which a revised scope of work will be developed and agreed upon by the FUSE Fellow and the host agency.

Starting in April 2019, it is proposed the FUSE Fellow will begin his or her work with a landscape assessment across the three key safety departments (PD, FD & OEM) to understand challenges, current initiatives, gaps and areas for improvement as they relate to use of data & technology. Working closely with cross-departmental stakeholders, the Fellow will lead the development of a common Safe City vision, strategy, and roadmap inclusive of “quick wins.” The remainder of the fellowship will be spent building momentum for the Safe City vision through implementation of select initiatives on the roadmap.

The Fellow should be action-oriented and be able to identify and implement quick wins from the roadmap to garner and maintain support from departments for which data and technology use is not universally a priority. To be successful in this role, the Fellow must demonstrate strong leadership and be able to motivate and encourage city leadership and staff to adopt new ways of thinking.

  • Landscape Assessment: Complete a comprehensive analysis of current systems and gaps. Engage with cross-departmental stakeholders to understand needs and any past obstacles to adopting a more data-driven approach. Work with city officials to develop an overall strategy for data use in emergency management that facilitates collaboration across emergency management departments and the wider city organization. This assessment should include but is not limited to:
    • Police Fusion/Data Collection Center;
    • Fire Department Data Warehouse/Business Intelligence: Dashboard Monitoring Tools and utilization of data sets and performance metrics;
    • Emergency Management Public Broadcast;
    • Police Records Management System (RMS);
    • Vision Zero Department of Transportation Intersection Safety Pilot;
    • Police Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD), to include the I-Mobile CAD connectivity in the Patrol cars;
    • Wireless Communication Infrastructure Disaster Resiliency; and
    • AT&T digital infrastructure audio and video sensors in select parks pilot (pending privacy gates)
  • Develop Roadmap: Create a roadmap to implement the overall strategy for data use. Develop actionable items, and ground strategy in existing department-level processes. Develop cost estimates, personnel requirements and timelines for all recommendations. The roadmap should take a ‘people, process, technology’ approach that accounts for future workforce and skills development needs.
  • Stakeholder Engagement: Build rapport with leadership in PD, FD and OEM, and maintain engagement with key stakeholders throughout the assessment and roadmap development process. Communicate the value derived from leveraging technology in order to win and maintain support for project. Engage respected external stakeholders as appropriate to help facilitate communication and consensus across and within organizations.
  • Implement Pilot Initiatives: Identify and pursue easy to implement “wins,” in order to demonstrate value of project and engage city leadership. Select initial projects with an eye towards facilitating culture change around data and technology. Key to successful implementation of pilot initiatives will be to fully operationalize the initiative which includes ensuring sustainability of the project within the existing organization.

Key stakeholders

  • Assistant Chief Dave Knopf, San José Police Department;
  • Director Ray Riordon, Office of Emergency Management, San José City Manager’s Office
  • Chief Robert Sapien, San José Fire Department;
  • Jennifer Maguire, Assistant City Manager, San José City Manager’s Office;
  • Deputy City Manager Kip Harkness, Deputy City Manager, San José City Manager’s Office;
  • Assistant to the City Manager, Michelle McGurk, San José City Manager’s Office; and
  • Director Dolan Beckel, Office of Civic Innovation, San José City Manager’s Office



  • At least 15 years of professional “people, process and technology” planning, operationalization, and execution experience with a background in Police, Fire, and/or Emergency Management is strongly preferred.
  • Proven experience across planning and operationalization and execution experience.
  • A desire to understand the public sector first and then maximize performance by suggesting and applying private sector approaches to the Fellowship.
  • Action-oriented personality.
  • Experience in adopting and following the SCRUM approach to work independent of the content and problem being solved.
  • Ability to understand, adapt, and thrive within an established team work culture.
  • Ability to create direction and movement within potentially ambiguous
  • Exceptional written and verbal communication skills with an ease in public presentations.
  • Superior critical thinking and analytical skills.
  • Ability to synthesize complex information into clear and concise recommendations.
  • Ability to relate to a wide variety of diverse audiences with strong emotional intelligence and empathy.
  • Excellent stakeholder engagement skills and the ability to use facilitative leadership techniques to coordinate stakeholder activities.
  • Self-motivated, goal-oriented, entrepreneurial leader who can also be an independent worker.
  • Persistent in obtaining information and creatively resourceful in identifying solutions to complex problems.
  • Understands the need for solutions to support all people in a community regardless of race, religion, gender, immigration status, or ethnicity.