GovTech Business Watch: Tech-Centric Waste Company Chooses First City Partner, Omidyar Invests $4.5M in Three Groups

Plus, new state police orders for TASER and 20 governments begin using new budgeting tool from OpenGov.

by / December 9, 2016

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

Tech-Focused Trash Service Enters the Government Market with Atlanta Partnership

There appears to be a new player in the municipal waste game, and it is very tech-centric.

In fact, Rubicon’s first-ever partnership with a city is much more about data than it is about the pickup and hauling of trash itself. The city will fix up its public works department’s trash pickup fleet with smart phones carrying the company’s application in order to collect data and feed it through Rubicon’s analytics tools.

Atlanta expects the service to help it manage its waste services more efficiently and reduce the amount of trash going to the landfill. Rubicon has technology that uses the shaking of garbage trucks to verify trash pickups and uses data analytics to, among other things, optimize collection routes. Until now, the company’s customer base has been commercial; Atlanta is the first city it’s worked with.

The city council approved the partnership on Oct. 17, but Rubicon didn’t make the announcement until Dec. 1. The council considered the arrangement — which it isn’t paying for, and doesn’t require it to purchase any services after the project ends — as consultation donation worth about $444,000.

Rubicon’s commercial services include a network of independent trash haulers that compete against each other for pickup requests. The company has raised more than $95 million in funding.

Omidyar Network Invests $4.5 Million in Three Civic Tech Groups

The Omidyar Network has put $500,000 into Citymart and $2 million each into Civic Hall and Civic Hall Labs in December.

Citymart is a government procurement solution that seeks to set up a problem-based system. That is, the company begins with the problem a city needs to solve, and then looks for a variety of solutions from there. The idea, the company pitches, is to open cities up to solutions outside of their narrow network of usual vendors.

The company has existed since 2011 and served more than 60 cities across the world, but hasn’t been very active in fundraising — aside from the Omidyar investment, it’s reported a $1 million investment in 2013. Urban.us invested an undisclosed amount in the company earlier this year.

“The investment will help Citymart to develop its online platform that provides users a collaborative tool to capture ideas, develop solutions, conduct market research and connect with the most innovative vendors to solve complex urban challenges,” a press release from Omidyar reads.

Civic Hall and Civic Hall Labs are two branches of the same civic tech effort based in New York City. The former is a “collaborative community center” with more than 100 member organizations that hosts hackathons and other professional events. The Labs arm is a nonprofit research and development effort.

The Omidyar investment there represents a follow-on to an initial investment of $500,000 in Civic Hall in 2014.

Massachusetts and California Police Order More Than 700 TASER Weapons

TASER International has reported new orders for its electrical weapons from state police in Massachusetts and California.

On Dec. 8, the company announced that the Massachusetts State Police has ordered 400 of its X2 “smart weapons,” while California Highway Patrol has ordered 369 of the same model.

According to TASER’s website, the X2 features two laser sights and a backup shot allowing officers to shoot a second time without reloading if they missed on the first shot.

“We believe these key state police agencies have made an important move toward a world where every officer has the best technology and training to minimize the chances of a deadly encounter,” TASER Chief Executive Officer Rick Smith said in the statement.

TASER is a publicly traded company and was a member of the 2016 GovTech100 list. In its last fiscal year, the company made $197.9 million in net sales and $19.9 million in net income.

OpenGov Announces More than 20 Governments Using New Budget Builder

More than 20 local government entities across the country are in the process of implementing Budget Builder, a new offering from OpenGov.

The solution is an online collaborative platform where government officials can submit data, discuss budgeting in threads and keep track of changes over time. It’s meant to replace the more disjointed process of email exchanges and Excel spreadsheets, according to a Dec. 7 statement from the company.

“By seamlessly compiling data from previous years, ensuring collaboration across departments and letting us quickly share key information with stakeholders, Budget Builder has allowed us to focus our time and energy on serving our residents instead of agonizing over the budget,” said Judy Smith, finance director for the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority, in the statement.

Some of the other government entities turning to the solution are Harford County, Md.; Long Beach, N.Y.; Culpeper, Va.; Burnet, Texas; and Greenwood, Ind.

OpenGov primarily develops open data, performance management and budgeting tools for local government entities. It has raised about $47 million in capital since 2012.

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.