The fourth cohort of the New York City-based URBAN-X startup accelerator includes two gov tech companies, as well as a third startup that serves citizens using city data.
The two gov tech startups are ClearRoad and Open Data Nation. Open Data Nation builds on a trend that has been slowly growing in government for a long time — applying artificial intelligence algorithms to existing public data sets to predict problems. The concept has been longest and most famously used to assign crime risk scores to neighborhoods — “predictive policing” — but in recent years technologists have also explored predictions for things like infrastructure maintenance, restaurant health inspection failures and traffic accidents.
Those last two are where Open Data Nation is starting. According to the company’s website, it is using data to predict the likelihood of restaurants failing health inspections and of crashes happening on roads. It will add new use cases this year.
URBAN-X and ClearRoad have offered fewer details about what that company is doing, but it is certainly aimed at flexible transportation pricing. The URBAN-X announcement about its fourth cohort describes the company as helping “government agencies automate toll road pricing for any section of the road without the need for traditional proprietary hardware infrastructure,” while the company’s sparse website simply asks users if they are interested in a “national road usage charging demonstration.”
Road use charging is a concept, currently undergoing public tests largely in western states, where the government collects transportation revenue based on how much people are driving, as opposed to how much fuel they buy. That distinction could become especially important as electric vehicles, which don’t pay the government’s gas tax, become more popular.
Significantly, road use charges imply a general tax on miles driven, whereas tolls imply location-specific fees.
Also in the fourth cohort is Rentlogic, which takes city data about building inspections and violations and makes it available to prospective renters. The company is currently focused on New York City buildings.