Code for Sacramento hosts interim Chief Innovation Officer, Abhi Nemani, to discuss civic innovation and GovTech


Sacramento’s civic hackers converged on the Urban Hive in midtown again last night at the Code for Sacramento Meetup group to listen as the City of Sacramento’s interim Chief of Innovation Officer, Abhi Nemani shared his thoughts on trends in civic innovation, how Sacramento is doing in civic innovation and what’s next for Sacramento. Here’s a few of the main takeaways from the evening.

There’s opportunities for local entrepreneurs to provide data analysis and data science as a service to cities.

“So, someone here is going to start a data science as a service company, right…?”

City IT departments are very understaffed as are HR departments. People in the community, including here in Sacramento, have to step up and be willing to work for the government.

On open data, we, as the community of civic hackers need to focus on two things:

  1. Incorporating open data into other existing applications – how do we take the information that exists and put it into the places that people already go to. Think about the data that’s out there, the stuff that you’re building apps on and think about how we can engage existing consumer platforms to utilize that better.
  2. Building very specific and useful visualizations of open data – like dashboards that show how to deploy police forces. You can build interesting, cool visualizations and dashboards but if they don’t align with actual decision-making functions and operations, it doesn’t matter. As you think about building tools for visualizations, try to find a way to map them against the actual decision-making processes. Dashboards can point out what are a city department’s goals. It forces them to think about what their goals are.

Much of what Abhi discussed is available in a recent article he published on

How Sacramento’s doing and what’s next for Sacramento

In addition to the $1M – 1.5M the City has allocated for the RAILS grant program, the city has also allocated $200,000 for civic tech to pay for acquiring interesting, useful applications that come out of programs like Code 4 Sacramento – supporting startups that are doing interesting government-related stuff. If you’re doing something that fits into the category, contact Abhi.

We have the opportunity here to make Sacramento the capital of civic and government innovation for obvious reasons; we’ve got government of the 6th largest economy in the world  right here. We’ve got a mayor who supports using technology to improve how government works. We’ve got an amazing platform here, amazing community here, so we should do amazing stuff.

When asked what data means to him and his organization, Abhi replied,

“Data is an asset to support startups in the city. I think about it as jet fuel for new civic, govtech startups. I think Sacramento has an awesome opportunity to become the hotbed for new government or civic technology startups and open data is the way to do that.”