San Francisco has been a testing location for new technological developments for a long time, but the city’s Board of Supervisors is tired of being a tech guinea pig. New legislation passed on Tuesday made it necessary for companies intending to test new tech on the streets of San Francisco to seek a permit from the city to do so. The legislation is a proactive move, which is strange for a city that is used to reacting to fallout from one or more of these tests and sanctioning the offending parties.
Judging the Net Public Good
To make life easy for new innovators, while at the same time keeping the city’s best interests at heart, the Board of Supervisors set up the Office of Emerging Technology. This office is intended to be a single location for innovators to liaise with the municipality. Entrepreneurs can submit their proposals to the office, which will then look at the benefits that the innovation will provide to the city and its residents. If the tech is adjudged to be to the benefit of the ‘net public good,’ then the business will be granted a license to operate within San Francisco.
Not an Outlaw Town
Many startups that have gone on to national importance started with San Francisco as their initial testing grounds. However, thanks to the acceptance of the city, many new developers who want to become disruptive innovators abused the city’s lax attitude towards regulating new advancements. The city’s caretakers have a responsibility to protect public infrastructure from encroachment. It takes more than just a cool idea and the ability to code to turn something into a worthwhile enterprise. However, the legislation needs to be flexible enough to allow actual innovation to flourish. The wrong lobby groups could quickly turn the city’s well-meaning regulations into methods of fighting potential disruptive technology.
After nearly a decade of free reign to entrepreneurs, the city has decided that enough is enough. The only issue is if other parties see the legislation as a means of protecting their own livelihood against upstart innovators that may steal their market share.