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Last Monday, the Mayor of Berkeley, Tom Bates, and the Mayor of Oakland, Libby Schaaf, talked to our UGBA 193i students about the current events in their cities and their vision for the future involving smart cities and Open Innovation.

“We’re a place that innovates.” – Mayor Tom Bates of Berkeley


Mayor Bates took the floor first, stating Berkeley’s strengths, weaknesses, and present actions. The City of Berkeley excels for its generous population, highly educated workforce, and culture of innovation and creation. The challenge is that Berkeley has an aging city infrastructure and needs a tremendous amount of maintenance. In the process of maintenance, Mayor Bates envisions maintaining a strong educational system, becoming a leader in environmental stewardship, and promoting the living & working downtown. For example, Berkeley is currently partnered with SFBCDC to address “climate change mitigation and adaptation in [Berkeley’s] climate action plan.” “We’re a place that innovates,” declares Mayor Bates, who looks forward to UGBA 193i’s Team Berkeley presentation on Smart Cities leveraging Open Innovation in Berkeley.

“You gotta be open to disruptive technologies.” – Mayor Libby Schaaf of Oakland


For Mayor Schaaf, there were four major issues she prioritized: holistic community safety, sustainable vibrant infrastructure, food and housing, and transparency from the government. “You gotta be open to disruptive technologies,” declares Mayor Schaaf on the topic of utilizing technology to transform Oakland into a smart city. With holistic community safety as her number one priority, Schaaf believes that instead of just adding more police officers into the equation, we need to create a community-based safety program. She asked our students, “What are the social determinants of health — including employment and safety? How do you integrate the different races? How [can we] grow a permanent base if we cannot create confidence that Oakland will be safe and stay safe?”

“Oakland is at this amazing moment in time where we have a lot of opportunity to see growth and development in our city.” – Mayor Schaaf


A possible solution discussed may be to invest in data frequency and prevention programs, which would allow the deciphering of assumptions about Oakland. Along these lines, sustainable vibrant infrastructure can also address holistic community safety by creating social vitality in public spaces. With the growing Oakland population and expanding millennial workforce, we must address the increase in food and housing needs without compromising social vitality. Last, transparency of the government is vital for citizens to feel safe in their city and to trust their government. Oakland currently hopes to implement a 311 system, which will allow the city government to answer secondary priority calls such as noise complaints, pot holes, or non-working streetlamps and allow true emergency 911 calls to be answered at highest priority. Since costs are going up, Oakland is looking into how to reconfigure what libraries, parks, and other public infrastructures in a way that will reduce costs. Mayor Schaaf believes in “open source code” and “disruptive technology”  as a vital way to develop innovative solutions.


By: Cindy Ma