Update: This story was updated May 25 to include the additions of the startups Binti and LotaData that joined the Startup in Residence program in May. It was updated again on June 13 to note the exit of the startup Coyote Watch from the program.
SAN FRANCISCO -- On Tuesday, April 19, four Northern California cities and a cluster of tech startups confirmed a set of new collaborations to assist citizens and departments on critical issues in the region.
The partnerships were announced as part of the San Francisco Mayor's Office of Civic Innovation’s Startup in Residence Program (STiR). After a two-year hiatus, the program returned officially on Jan. 28 with support and participation from the neighboring cities of Oakland, San Leandro and West Sacramento. The group intends to borrow the startups’ entrepreneurial flare for problem solving by physically embedding them inside city departments for 16 weeks, tasking them with co-developing solutions with staff, and presenting them at a demo day this September.
Speaking at the Runway Incubator, San Francisco Chief Innovation Officer Jay Nath said the city’s second iteration of STiR (formerly known as the Entrepreneur in Residence program) builds on the city’s long-held belief that the best way to answer community needs is by involving the community. This principle, he said, applies most poignantly to the tech sector that has grown so adept at disruptive product and service innovations.
“When we think about all the many problems we’re facing in society, we at City Hall can’t do it alone — we need to work across sectors,” Nath said. “We need to be collaborative, and we need to be open.”
At its inaugural launch in 2014, Nath said the city received an overwhelming response from entrepreneurs of all sorts. Nearly 200 startups applied from 25 different cities and countries, and six were chosen.
This year, 14 startups were chosen from a number of industries, such as analytics startup Decision Patterns, which is developing a tool for officials in San Leandro to analyze budgets and city performance data.
San Leandro IT Manager Tony Batalla said he thought the joint effort would be groundbreaking and serve as a springboard for collective city-to-city finance and performance analysis.
“To me that’s a huge opportunity to standardize [performance metrics between cities],” Batalla said. “We can come in and create a standard where one doesn’t exist.”
The program is fueled by a $10 million three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce, out of which the Commerce Department has allocated more than $474,000 for STiR. Jeremy Goldberg, STiR’s director, said the funding ensures the program lasts for at least three more years.
The 14 startups and challenge projects on which they'll be working are:
Lens will work with the San Francisco Fire Department Neighborhood Emergency Response Team to design an emergency platform to manage profiles and information on community volunteers.
KarFarm will work with the San Francisco Office of Contracts to improve city vehicle procurement with a digital solution to generate RFPs.
SpiralScout will work with San Francisco Public Works to create a mobile app and database for officials to collect damage assessment data after an earthquake or other major disasters.
Spotery will work with the San Francisco Recreation Department on a mobile app or software solutions that allows users to reserves recreation facilities and participate in online lotteries for youth athletic programs.
CommunityLogIQ is working with the San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development to design software that would allow the OEWD staff to visualize, map and track changes to land parcels in industrial zones.
Binti seeks to create a mobile app for potential foster care parents working with San Francisco's Human Services Agency. The app guides citizens through the foster care certification process and is hoped to be a pipeline for prospective candidates. For HSA staff, the app doubles as a management tool to handle education and communication tasks.
LotaData will aid San Francisco's Recreation & Human Services Department to provide an analytics app and user ID card that lets staff visualize and track usage patterns for recreational facilities. Leadership plan to use the analysis to optimize and improve services.
Bayes Impact is working with the Oakland Police Department to create an analytics solution to assess highly demanded information and services from the police department.
Preschool2me is working with the Oakland Human Services Department to create software to support Head Start outreach, enrollment and administration.
SyncFab is working with the San Leandro Office of Workforce and Economic Development to create a regional procurement platform for cities that highlights San Leandro’s factory and supply chain resources.
Decision Patterns is working with the San Leandro IT Department to engineer an app that analyzes city budget and performance data.
Raxar is working with the West Sacramento Fire Department to build a platform that would allow fire department responders to report on emergencies and incidents from the field.
Mosaiqq is working with the West Sacramento Police Department to craft a digital solution for police to manage, analyze, record and report on cases in real-time and in the field.
Appledore is working with the West Sacramento Police Department to create a mobile app that would assist officers in screening homeless citizens, and would then pair them with available social service resources.
Jason Shueh is a former staff writer for Government Technology magazine.