Teresa’s Plan for Increasing Civic Engagement through Technology

With many of the world’s leading technology companies located here in Santa Clara County, we are the envy of the world. Few places have such a geographic concentration of human capital and technological power. Yet, our county government has failed to adequately take advantage of this opportunity and promote our innovation economy.

I strongly believe that the County of Santa Clara has a great opportunity to use technology to increase civic engagement, improve government transparency, and improve service delivery. I know that we can be a national model for Government 2.0 — where citizens have access to technological tools that encourage communication and collaboration with government, and where our government provides efficient and effective services. As a Supervisor, I will work to transform and modernize our county government.

1. Social Media

Everyone has experienced how social media has increased the speed and ease at which we communicate with other people. Businesses all over the world are now using social media to improve communication and collaboration with employees and customers. Government must learn to harness the power of social media as a way to inform and engage citizens. I’m excited to be using tools like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to connect with voters and supporters during this campaign. As a Supervisor, I will expand the use of social media to increase civic engagement in Santa Clara County.

2. Mobile Technology

With the accessibility of mobile devices rapidly expanding among all income levels, there are new opportunities for government to engage with constituents. We can revolutionize the way government meets the needs of our residents by providing innovative, mobile phone-based solutions such as mobile-optimized websites and mobile apps. By offering a faster and more convenient way to communicate, the County can become more transparent, actively engage the public, and collectively address the many challenges we face.

3. Data-Driven Decision Making

Technology has vastly improved our ability to collect and aggregate data. Santa Clara County has a unique opportunity to use the data collected by its departments to transform the way that we conduct business, in real time. As a Supervisor, I will work with County departments to ensure that data, while maintaining client privacy, is being used to evaluate outcomes and that resource allocation decisions are informed by evidence-based data.

4. Open Access to the Internet

Technology companies are installing free wireless networks in public spaces throughout the country. Yet there are neighborhoods in Santa Clara County where families lack any access to the Internet. As a result, many people, including our children, are being left behind in this technology revolution, creating a digital divide between groups and communities having access to information and future socioeconomic opportunities. As a Supervisor, I will work with our technology companies to install free wireless networks in poorer neighborhoods to help close the digital divide and enable our communities the access to opportunities that should be available to everyone in Silicon Valley.

5. Participatory Governance

What if residents of Santa Clara County could propose how the County’s discretionary funds are spent? In municipalities around the world, residents are actively engaged in local decision-making. This inclusive and collaborative approach adds a level of transparency and engagement that returns decision-making back to where it belongs — the people. This is grassroots democracy at work. As a Supervisor, I will support the development of mobile applications and other online platforms to engage directly with citizens in information sharing and civic problem-solving.

I began this campaign with a call for greater transparency, access, oversight and accountability, recognizing that the public’s expectations of local government have changed. And if Santa Clara County is to remain competitive, it is imperative that we harness the power of technology to spur economic development. Santa Clara County must be at the forefront of promoting innovations in technology, policy, and practice.

To accomplish both, we must “reboot” County government and create a new model, Government 2.0. This will require the active engagement of the residents of Santa Clara County, collaboration with technology companies in Silicon Valley in public-private partnerships, and a commitment from our elected officials and government employees to embrace new tools and methods.

As a Supervisor, I will be committed to marshaling the necessary resources to make Santa Clara County a global model for innovative governance and a County that provides the most effective and efficient services in order to ensure the highest and best possible outcomes for those of us who, directly or indirectly, benefit from those services.