We are one step closer to blurring the line between the public and private sector.
City Innovate has inducted a new cohort of startups that are aiming to bring tech innovation to public services through its 16-week Startup In Residence (STIR) program, an initiative that was spearheaded by the late Mayor of San Francisco Ed Lee in 2014.
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The STIR program first emerged out of San Francisco at a time when tech startups like Uber were beginning to change the way that people think about their ability to move, build, and even eat. And while the rise of the tech scene in Silicon Valley has certainly changed our ways of life, it has, at times, neglected to address, and some argue it has even exacerbated, underlying societal issues like income inequality and homelessness, which are further complicated by broken or antiquated public services.
Through STIR, teams of tech entrepreneurs apply their knowledge to critical problems facing communities by collaborating with the government bodies dealing with those key issues.
One of the primary challenges facing the potential for collaboration between the government and the private sector is procurement. Slow-moving bureaucracies that are often tied to long-term budgeting processes mean that corporate contractors could face a waiting period months or even years for the processing of requests for proposals (RFPs). Even when those RFPs are processed, rigidly defined solutions and contract requirements hinder flexibility and iteration.
STIR has both simplified and added flexibility to that process so that startups can score contracts, and government agencies and STIR participants can better identify issues and malleable solutions to problems. And local governments have taken note.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that any team with a marginally novel idea is accepted to the program. Jay Nath, the co-executive director of San Francisco-based City Innovate and former chief innovation officer under Mayor Ed Lee, told Crunchbase News that nearly 700 startups from around the world competed in the process, and 40 were selected through the formal RFP process to work with 22 governments. The most recent cohort is partnering with local government bodies ranging from Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) to the city of Norfolk in Virginia, and Edmonton, Canada.
STIR program veteran GovRock worked with the City of West Sacramento last year on an engagement tool for volunteer opportunities and events. This year, the team will be working with the City of San Francisco’s Department of Emergency Management on a resource management platform for disaster supplies.
“Programs like STIR are catalysts for startups to gain early customers and traction in the burgeoning GovTech space,” Sarah Daniels, the co-founder of GovRock, told Crunchbase News in an email. “Through STIR, our team has the unique access to local governments that are eager to build new products.”
But the program isn’t just for govtech-focused startups. James Kwong, the head of product at Australia-based Unleash Live, told Crunchbase News that the STIR program provides startups with unique opportunities that can further both their own missions as well as those of government bodies.
“For us, working with government bodies means that there’s greater access to the data sets, but also [that] you can have an impact on a much broader scale,” Kwong expressed.
For its part, Unleash Live will use its A.I. analytics platform in collaboration with the City of Sacramento Public Works Department to streamline crosswalk planning, which is currently a labor-intensive, manual process.
“We’re looking to set up and tap into the existing network of cameras pointing at key intersections and crosswalks across the city,” he explained. “Through our platform were able to do people counts, movement counts, and traffic flow of individuals to asses which prioritized intersections might require attention.”
For tech enthusiasts interested in the intersection of government and tech, the STIR program is a shining example of the benefits that can be attained for both startups and public sector agencies through partnerships. If governments commit to lessening the barriers to startup participation, and startups show interest in collaboration with public servants, fewer communities may be left behind in the process of technological advancement.
|Company Name||Task/Challenge Description (Provided By City Innovate)||Government Partner|
|Actionable Science||Improve the ability of the IT help desk to better serve internal stakeholders through self-service.||Bay Area Rapid Transit|
|GovRock||Real-time disaster supply Situational awareness.||City and County of San Francisco|
|GovIQ||Non-english language 9-1-1 call center voice recognition.||City and County of San Francisco|
|Stardog||Maximizing Client Impact through Data Systems Integration.||City and County of San Francisco|
|Neighborly||Easy-to-use digital portal for applicants to affordable homeownership program.||City of Boulder|
|Tolemi||Data integration and analytics platform for city employees to report on housing data.||City of Boulder|
|IPgallery||Design a traffic incident communication tool to proactively facilitate communication between City staff and roadway users who travel on Fremont roadways to mitigate problems before serious delays and bottlenecks occur.||City of Fremont|
|ClearRoad||Streamline and modernize transportation permits.||City of Fremont|
|Sigma Accolade||Library card based identification and access system to enable users to access multiple library resources including books, facilities and other resources.||City of Glendale|
|Dilli Labs||Digital assistant to enable residents to have a voice interface to city services.||City of Henderson|
|APPCityLife||Digital platform for residents and visitors to access government services via smartphone.||City of Henderson|
|On Point Barricade||Asset management platform for tracking deployment of barricades.||City of Henderson|
|SacTown Interactive||Citizen engagement tool to increase students walking to school.||City of Henderson|
|UrbanLogiq||Planning tool to predict traffic impacts of new real-estate development.||City of Henderson|
|bluField||The City of Long Beach Economic Development is interested in deploying digital wayfinding kiosks to enhance the traveler’s journey to and through the City.||City of Long Beach|
|Cithaeron||Technological solutions to assess, design, and implement traffic calming solutions.||City of Long Beach|
|Predictive Police Solutions||Artificial Intelligence (AI) enabled recruitment application management portal.||City of Long Beach|
|Tolemi||The objective of this project is to develop an online interactive mapping tool which informs stakeholders of the major development project in process throughout the city.||City of Long Beach|
|UrbanSDK||Data integration and management platform for city transit planners to manage and share transit data.||City of Memphis + Memphis Area Transportation Authority|
|Qwally||Easy-to-use tool for vendors to apply for Disadvantaged Business Enterprise certifications, and to effectively participate in government bid opportunities.||City of Mobile|
|bluField||Mobile app that allows personalization by residents and visitors to access information about area amenities, businesses, city resources, events, and other relevant data.||City of Napa|
|ARDX||Improved portal for new and growing businesses to access city resources.||City of Norfolk|
|Civis Analytics||Flood data analytics and decision support tool for residents.||City of Norfolk|
|Gruntify||Digital platform for rental property inspection.||City of Peoria|
|Unleash live||Data collection solution to streamline crosswalk planning.||City of Sacramento|
|Xaqt||Data collection to understand travel patterns across different modes of transit.||City of Sacramento|
|Coord||Asset management platform for city curb space that integrates multiple data sources.||City of San Diego|
|Innovate Mobile||Real-time data analytics platform for traffic data from multiple data sources including various sensors.||City of San Diego|
|Trellyz||Social networking platform to improve strength of local nonprofit community.||City of San Diego|
|CityDash||Asset management platform and online booking platform for public advertising banners on city street light poles.||City of San Jose|
|Gruntify||Website for disaster/incident recovery and broader communications platform for disaster information and response coordination.||City of San Jose|
|InnoActive Group||Compliance management tools for city employees monitoring contractor compliance.||City of San Jose|
|Substructure Technologies||Data integration and management platform for Housing Department employees to manage affordable housing portfolio.||City of San Jose|
|Camino||Permit management platform for collaboration between permit applicants and city employees.||City of Syracuse|
|Zivics||Citizen engagement tool for the city’s trauma Response Team (TRT) to engage residents after traumatic events, such as violent crimes.||City of Syracuse|
|Vite Labs||Crowdsourcing platform to connect low-income renters and people willing to provide 21 day loan for security deposits.||City of Syracuse|
|BluDot||Expand the city’s ability to keep in touch with and support existing businesses by creating an engagement tool that tracks and manages calls, emails, and meetings with business owners.||City of Walnut Creek|
|Meemim | vGIS||Citizen engagement tool using augmented reality to provide residents an enhanced experience of city infrastructure projects.||City of West Sacramento|
|ChatCreate||Online and voice chatbot that can reduce 311 call volumes for routine information based calls.||Edmonton|
|Elite Automation||Virtual voice assistant for tech support to provide immediate customer feedback and generate trouble tickets.||Metropolitan Transportation Commission (San Francisco Bay Area)|
|Interline Technologies||Creation of a regional GTFS feed to enable better transit service connectivity and transfer benefits.||Metropolitan Transportation Commission (San Francisco Bay Area)|
|Quant Collective||Routing support software for AC Transit Transbay Buses to improve travel time reliability and reduce peak period traffic delay.||Metropolitan Transportation Commission (San Francisco Bay Area)|
|mySidewalk||Traffic incident dashboard to identify and measure improvements to traffic incident response.||Metropolitan Transportation Commission (San Francisco Bay Area)|
|Xaqt||Develop dashboard for traffic conditions along arterials.||Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada|
Illustration Credit: Li-Anne Dias