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Published on June 15th, 2009 | by Gavin Newsom


Recycling In San Francisco Made Easy With The iPhone

June 15th, 2009 by  

San Francisco created the “EcoFinder” iPhone App to help residents recycle and dispose of materials.  The open data philosophy behind the app is Government 2.0 at work.

With the release today of San Francisco’s first iPhone app based on a City data feed, recycling just got much easier for our residents.

San Franciscans already lead the nation in recycling – in May we announced a 72% diversion rate of all materials going to the landfill – but we want to do more. Last week we passed the nation’s first mandatory recycling and composting laws. We’ve pledged to recycle 75% of the materials that would otherwise go to the landfill by 2010 and zero waste by 2020.

We will only reach these lofty goals together — with the help of all our residents. That’s why the City’s environment department (@SFEnvironment) has launched an iPhone version of the popular web-based EcoFinder tool.

Residents can now find out where to recycle or properly dispose of materials using our convenient, location-based mobile application. Instead of dumping old electronics or furniture on the sidewalk, the EcoFinder iPhone app tells you where these materials should go, based on your location.

I know that most people want to do the right thing with the unwanted materials in their lives, but they may not know, for example, how to recycle compact fluorescent bulbs which contain mercury. The EcoFinder iPhone app is part of our ongoing effort to provide residents and businesses in San Francisco with the information and tools to be environmentally responsible.

This iPhone app is a great example of San Francisco embracing the emerging philosophy of Government 2.0 — using web and mobile technologies to provide more effective processes for delivering government services. By sharing our EcoFinder database via an XML data feed, we’ve been able to develop the iPhone app with community partners, as well as provide accurate information to Earth911.com’s national recycling database.

I’m pushing for this kind of innovation across my administration. Earlier this month, we launched a new application that allows residents to contact the City´s 311 Call Center via the social networking site Twitter (@SF311) to report potholes, graffiti or receive information about city services.

The opportunity to fundamentally transform government by deploying the innovation and expertise in the web and mobile industries should not be ignored by municipalities. I firmly believe that, just as San Francisco has been an environmental leader, we can help change the way cities connect with their government.

More: SF Environment EcoFinder XML data feed 


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About the Author

was the youngest San Francisco mayor in over a century when he was elected at the age of 41. Newsom, the son of William and Tessa Newsom, grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. He attended Santa Clara University on a partial baseball scholarship, graduating in 1989 with a B.A. in political science. After only 36 days as mayor, Newsom gained worldwide attention when he granted marriage licenses to same-sex couples. This bold move set the tone for Newsom’s first term. Under his energetic leadership, the economy grew and jobs were created. The city became a center for biotech and clean tech. He initiated a plan to bring universal health care to all of the city’s uninsured residents. And Newsom aggressively pursued local solutions to global climate change. In 2007, Newsom was re-elected with over 73% of the vote. Since then he has built upon the successes of his first term, launching new environmental initiatives and a comprehensive strategy to transform one of the city’s most troubled neighborhoods into a life sciences, digital media, and clean tech center.

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