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What’s New in Civic Tech: New Report Finds 7,000 Startups, $71 Billion Ecosystem in NYC

Plus, Oakland event gates nonprofits and community groups to tackle pressing issues with tech, Cities of Service names 10 finalists for its Engaged Cities Award and Louisville, Ky., debuts informational kiosks in its downtown.

A new report says New York City is now home to more than 7,000 startups, with a $71 billion associated ecosystem that provides more than 326,000 jobs in tech. 

The report, dubbed the Global Startup Ecosystems Report (GSER) 2018, contains an analysis of more than 60 startup ecosystems in 24 countries. Among these, New York City was second to only Silicon Valley in terms of startup performance.

The report also provided a detailed look at several growing startup subsectors in the city, including advanced manufacturing and robotics, cybersecurity, and health and life sciences. In a press release announcing the publication of the report, the New York City Economic Development Corp. drew a connection between the city’s success in those subsections and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s New York Works plan, which aims to create 100,000 jobs in emerging modern fields during the next decade. As part of that plan, New York has also launched a $30 million initiative designed to fuel growth in its cybersecurity industry.

The report was produced by Startup Genome and the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN).

At CityCamp Oakland, nonprofits and community groups tackle pressing issues

A group of nonprofits and community organizations are hosting an event in Oakland, Calif., aimed at tackling the area’s most urgent issues.

Slated for Saturday, April 21, this event has been dubbed CityCamp Oakland 2018, and it is a collaboration between the city, the Oakland Public Ethics Commission and OpenOakland, a nonprofit civic innovation group that brings together coders, designers, data folks, journalists and public servants. CityCamp will be held at Oakland City Hall.

The goals for the event are similar to those of a new style of more inclusive hackathons that has been emerging across the country. The term "hackathon" has somewhat fallen out of fashion, as organizers worry that it alienates participants who have skills that aren’t traditionally associated with tech.

The Oakland event is a great example of this emerging strategy, as it aims to “bring together residents, young people, students, community leaders, local government officials, municipal employees, artists, developers, designers, journalists to share perspectives and insights about living and working in Oakland, and what can be improved,” according to the event’s website.

The assembled group will then work together on proposing ideas for projects to solve problems that emerged from the first discussion. Technologists will be on hand to teach best innovation practices such as project management, user research and communications/outreach.

Cities of Service names 10 finalists for its Engaged Cities Award

Cities of Service has announced 10 finalists for its Engaged Cities Award, a recognition program that will award one grand prize winner $100,000 in order to elevate city-led strategies that most successfully engage citizens.

Five of the finalists hail from the United States and five from abroad, with the domestic group consisting of Boston; Fort Collins, Colo.; Huntington, W.Va.; San Jose, Calif.; and Tulsa, Okla. Applicants for this award were not limited to tech, but officials with Cities of Service said when the contest began that they anticipated to see many projects with tech as a main or supporting piece.

Of the finalists, Boston and Tulsa in particular standout for tech-based initiatives. Tulsa’s work uses data sets to help address blight and resultant violent crime, while Boston is crowdsourcing data through an app to try to change the behavior of local drivers in a way that reduces accidents.

International finalists include Bologna, Italy; Hamm, Germany; Helsinki, Finland; Mexico City, Mexico; and Santiago de Cali, Colombia.

A panel of experts will now work to review the finalists. In May, all 10 will be invited to New York City, where three winners will be announced. One grand prize winner will receive $100,000 while the other two will get $50,000 each.

Louisville, Ky., debuts information kiosks in its downtown

Louisville, Ky., has debuted kiosks in its downtown that are designed to help people find restaurants, attractions and information about local events, construction and services.

Dubbed Louisville CityPost, the kiosks feature interactive 55-inch smart signs, as well as a companion mobile app. They were developed as a group effort by Louisville Downtown Partnership, Louisville Public Media, Smart City Media and the city. Prior to working with Louisville, Smart City Media has coordinated with Kansas City on a similar project.

In addition to providing directional assistance and safety information, the kiosks serve as free Wi-Fi hot spots. Information available through them includes a business directory, restaurant and hotel info for tourists, visitor attraction and museum listings, and government contact information. The kiosks are also equipped with an updated calendar of events made possible via a partnership with Louisville Public Media’s Do502 platform. 

This project is currently in the first phase of rollout, which includes nine kiosks. Additional kiosks will be added throughout the year as other construction projects are completed, according to a press release from Louisville Downtown Partnership.

Associate editor for Government Technology magazine.