Superpublic: A New Space to Connect Public, Private and Nonprofit Sectors in San Francisco

Collaborative enterprise to address city’s pressing problems is first of its kind in the US.

Collaborative enterprise to address city’s pressing problems is first of its kind in the US.

A new coworking space in San Francisco aims to bring all levels of government together with businesses, nonprofits and universities to create solutions to San Francisco’s problems.

Dubbed Superpublic, the 5,000-square-foot coworking space and innovation lab, is a partnership between San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation, City Innovate Foundation, and the General Services Administration. Federal, California state, and San Francisco city government officials as well as relevant departments at the University of California, Berkeley, Stanford University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are expected to join.

This kind of tangible, collaborative enterprise to address a city’s pressing problems is the first of its kind in the U.S., though it’s modeled after a similar program in Paris, France.

Among plans for Superpublic is a focus on creating transportation solutions. As the San Francisco Chronicle reports:

Up first: working on “smart transit” for San Francisco, putting more government services online, and making sure government spending delivers tangible results. “Transportation has a lot of problems,” said Tim Papandreou, director of innovation for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. Among them: the balkanization of various systems from BART to Uber to Muni. He’d like to create a single digital way for travelers to coordinate across all the various options.

Denise Turner Roth, administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration, describes the project as a “great example” of how her agency is finding novel ways to improve how it operates.

“Superpublic presents a unique opportunity to solve common problems that persist at all levels of government and demonstrate a model for collaboration that can be replicated in other cities across the United States,” she said in a statement.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee is optimistic that bringing together a diverse group of people in a shared workspace can have a positive impact on the city and its residents.

“San Francisco is a city of free thinkers and innovators always striving to improve the quality of life for everyone and ensure the prosperity of our city is shared by all our residents,” he said. “Working together in a shared space like Superpublic … we can create a more livable, sustainable, equitable, and safe San Francisco.”

This post first appeared in Shareable

By Cat Johnson

Cat Johnson is a freelance writer focused on community, the commons, sharing, collaboration and music. Publications include Utne Reader, GOOD, Yes! Magazine, Shareable, Triple Pundit and Lifehacker. She's also a musician, record store longtimer, chronic list maker, avid coworker and aspiring minimalist.