GovTech Business Watch: $100B Tech Fund Sets Sights on AI and IoT, Taser Sells Thousands of Body Cameras at Year's End

Plus, Socrata signs its first Alabama open data customer and Tyler Technologies wins an ERP bid in Texas.

by / January 6, 2017

GovTech Business Watch is a weekly roundup of news in the government technology market.

Massive Tech Fund Sets Sights on AI and IoT

An investment with up to $100 billion in capital is set to launch in the coming weeks with a potential focus on artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT).

The SoftBank Vision Fund, as the Japanese bank is tentatively calling it, has attracted billions of dollars in contributions from technology giants such as Apple and Oracle. According to the Wall Street Journal, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son is considering investing $50 billion of the fund’s money in the U.S.

Other investors in the fund include Saudi Arabia, Qualcomm and Foxconn.

Artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things both hold potential applications for government. Artificial intelligence, for example, can be used for finding outdated pipes or analyzing the structural integrity of a bridge. Data-gathering, connected sensors can help cities respond faster to flooding, or pick up trash more efficiently.

Taser Closes Out 2016 with Wave of Body Camera Orders

Taser ended the year on a strong note, announcing orders of its body cameras and accompanying evidence management services in 11 different states.

The single largest order came from Louisiana State Police, which is buying 1,556 Axon 2 body cameras. The agency is planning on equipping two cameras to each of its officers.

“Fully deploying HD body cameras, let alone taking the innovative step of purchasing two per trooper, is undoubtedly a bold move in the direction of improved accountability and officer protection,” Taser CEO Rick Smith said in a statement.

The company also sold more than 2,500 cameras to local agencies in Utah, Colorado, Texas, Louisiana, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia. Along with the body cameras, Taser sells customers a digital evidence platform on Evidence.com and image processing technology.

Tuscaloosa Becomes First Alabama City to Launch Socrata Open Data Portal

On Jan. 3, Tuscaloosa became the first city in Alabama to launch a Socrata open data portal.

The city’s portal includes a crime map, budget information, payroll, travel expenses and a section dedicated to GIS information. Though Tuscaloosa already published data, it was not typically in an easily consumable way.

“We are strengthening accountability by digitally opening the doors of city hall,” Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox said in a statement. “Our goal is to improve public trust and citizen engagement by simplifying government. This is a huge leap for Tuscaloosa to be more open, efficient and effective when serving the people of Tuscaloosa, but it’s only the first of many.”

Socrata serves more than 1,200 government customers, and has recently launched products focusing on public safety and data storytelling.

Tyler Technologies Signs $3.5 Million SaaS Contract with Amarillo, Texas

The city of Amarillo, Texas, has turned to Tyler Technologies for new enterprise resource planning (ERP) software as well as permitting, licensing and planning functions.

The city has signed a software-as-a-service contract with Tyler to use both Munis, the company’s government ERP, and the GIS-based EnerGov package.

Amarillo, home to more than 190,000 people, will also gain some public information tools through the deal.

“Amarillo's citizens will benefit from the ease of access to real-time data through the city's 3-1-1 initiatives by leveraging Tyler's citizen-facing products, allowing for seamless coordination between various city departments and automated workflows to boost citizen access, customer service and communication,” a Tyler press release reads.

According to Amarillo City Council documents, the city spent $3.5 million on the contract for purchase, implementation and five years of support. Tyler beat out Accela and Infor Public Sector for the contract.

In council documents, staff emphasized ease of use, the opportunity to better connect with citizens and the availability of real-time data as reasons to buy the software.

Ben Miller Staff Writer

Ben Miller is the business beat staff writer for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes breaking news, business, community features and technical subjects. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, and lives in Sacramento, Calif.