ImproveSF – An Online Civic Problem-Solving Platform

As part of Innovation Month, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee today welcomed business leaders, entrepreneurs, government agencies and academics from across the country to the Challenge America Summit, where he launched a new ImproveSF challenge.

The Challenge America Summit is an intimate gathering of innovation leaders exploring how competitions can create revolutionary advancements in technology, ignite social impact, and drive large-scale innovation. The program is a collaboration of innovation leaders from the City of San Francisco, NASA, Google, the Cleantech Open, PwC, Ashoka, and many others.

San Francisco’s commercial, industrial, municipal and residential buildings contribute over 50% of the City’s greenhouse gas emissions. Every month businesses and residents receive their energy bills containing important information about energy usage, yet there is no simple way to aggregate and translate this information that results in helping business and residents not only save money but increase comfort at the same time. 

“Just as NASA continually searches for new and insightful ways to overcome obstacles in space exploration, here in San Francisco, we are looking for innovative ideas from our greatest resource – our people – to overcome City challenges,” said Mayor Ed Lee. “The newest ImproveSF challenge highlights the importance of energy data in the City and will have positive, lasting effects on our energy usage studies to improve San Francisco.”

“Data can help drive decisions. Identifying new ways to access and use energy consumption data is a key ingredient to unlocking the potential for more efficient and sustainable homes throughout the City,” said Melanie Nutter, Director of the San Francisco Department of the Environment. “Through this challenge, innovative ideas are bound to emerge from the community that will enhance our efforts to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings.”

The ImproveSF winning idea will then go on to be part of the VergeSF Hack City challenge on November 9-10, a two-day hackathon bringing business innovators and entrepreneurs together with civic leaders to imagine the future potentials of energy, buildings, and transportation. 

In addition to ImproveSF challenge, the Challenge America Summit features the Night Rover Challenge, launched as a partnership between NASA and the Clean Tech Open, which seeks creative solutions to develop innovative energy storage systems that would enable a lunar rover to operate continuously throughout the full lunar cycle--including 14 days of complete darkness. 

"Prize competitions provide an exciting way for NASA to engage American ingenuity and reach more than the 'usual suspects' to develop new technologies,” said Jenn Gustetic, Program Executive of NASA Prizes and Challenges. “Prizes enable an alternate way for anyone to work with NASA.  NASA continues to lead Government efforts to increase cost-effectiveness and maximize the return on taxpayer dollars—and prizes do just that.”

“I am happy to highlight the impact that competitions can have in the energy sector during the Challenge America Summit, from the highly technical Night Rover challenge to the very inclusive ImproveSF challenge,” said Josh Neubert, Director of the Nightrover Challenge.

ImproveSF is an online platform launched by Mayor Lee in April, where citizens and government come together to inspire each other, brainstorm ideas, and solve civic challenges. It’s a place where inclusion, collaboration, and optimism are the community’s core strength. To learn more about ImproveSF and updates on future ImproveSF challenges, go to:

Mayor Lee declared October as Innovation Month as both a celebration and a call to action to highlight the City's need to further embrace technology and catalyze greater job creation, community engagement, and government efficiency through innovation. For more information go to