Winds are blowing faster now in the government technology market space.
But in which direction?
This arena has seen steady growth, an onslaught of changes and some signs of acceleration. Research from Government Technology’s parent company, e.Republic, shows an estimated $99.8 billion in annual information technology spending just at the state and local levels. Among 100 companies in this space that the magazine highlighted last year, there have been 23 acquisitions, more than 300 investors and more than $180 million raised in venture capital. Some have themselves been acquired, others have gone public.
On Thursday, Oct. 27, in San Francisco, Government Technology will dig into this market in earnest at an event held in partnership with the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center, Crunchbase and the San Francisco Mayor's Office of Civic Innovation. At the first-ever “State of GovTech” conference, 100 venture capitalists, government officials, technologists, businesspeople and nonprofit representatives will gather to start unpacking what’s happening in this area.
January 2016 marked the debut of the GovTech 100, a list of 100 companies in this space to watch. Next January will bring the second edition of the list, this time taking advantage of a new data-sharing partnership with Crunchbase. Articles about a leadership change at Accela and the merger of Granicus with GovDelivery are forays into the field; more will come.
It’s not that there isn’t information out there about movement among these companies — it’s a question of resource dedication. Individual companies will put out press releases, business publications will cover the government arms of larger companies, but where is there a centralized effort to corral the sector that is focused on government?
“I think the problem is connecting the dots and … trying to accelerate that change,” said Dustin Haisler, chief innovation officer at e.Republic.
There is plenty of opportunity in this market too. Governments at all levels continue to increase their spending on hardware, software and services. Repaving a street isn’t simply repaving a street anymore — if it’s happening in Los Angeles, the city will want to connect the project with its centralized geographic information system, GeoHub, so that other departments know what’s going on and can plan accordingly. If it’s in Santa Monica, the city might want to take advantage of the project to lay down fiber in support of a growing broadband network.
“When you look at the problems of government today, most of them have some technology component,” Haisler said.
And there’s even more bubbling up in the future. This year, Chicago launched its Array of Things project involving the deployment of a fleet of sensor nodes around the city that will gather and transmit the kind of data that’s been largely inaccessible to municipalities — and the project is expanding to other areas. Street kiosks are spreading Wi-Fi and offering new ways to connect and serve citizens at the ground level. As waves of open data have washed ashore, governments are seeking ways to process it, analyze it and turn it into something valuable.
The idea of the summit, and Government Technology’s new focus on this market space, is to better understand and follow these changes. More information and a limited number of tickets are available on the event site.
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.