Recently, The Mercury News reported that Bay Area cities struggling with housing shortages and congested roadways are turning to tech startups for advice on how to maintain a more satisfactory quality of life.
Earlier this month, cities and agencies including San Francisco, Walnut Creek, San Jose, Fremont, BART, and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission publicly asked entrepreneurs to assist them in solving some the largest challenges they haven’t yet been able to overcome. Evidently, the goal is to explore the private sector to identify technology and expertise that may allow for improvements in housing, transportation, and other issues. San Francisco-based nonprofit, City Innovate, launched this program, called Startup in Residence, in order to connect startups with governments.
Jay Nath, an executive director of City Innovate, was quoted in the article, saying, “They’re ready to roll up their sleeves and work with these startups to build solutions.”
Currently, San Jose is seeking a startup to help the city in its efforts to collect data on its affordable housing stock. Each year, owners of properties reserved for low-income tenants must tell the city who their tenants are, how much these tenants earn annually, and the cost of rent, so the city can then ensure these homes remain affordable. As of now, that process requires landlords to enter their data into an Excel sheet which city staff then enter by hand into the housing department’s database. Deputy director of the San Jose Housing Department, Rachel VanderVeen, explained that this complicated process can easily take two months to complete, and added, “It’s going to just ensure that we have quality affordable housing for the long-term.”
Additionally, the MTC is on the hunt for entrepreneurs with technology to help reduce Bay Area traffic by improving emergency response to crashes. The organization aims to analyze the amount of time emergency responders currently take to clear accidents, and from there, work on reducing the amount of time taken to re-open the roads.
MTC Commissioner Nick Josefowitz, who’s running for San Francisco supervisor, says in the article, “Most government agencies don’t have great access to data analytics… And you have this enormous ecosystem in the Bay Area that’s helping, up until now, private sector companies do that.”
Entrepreneurs who are interested in applying for the Startup in Residence program will be able to do so through November 7, and can submit their applications online at StartupInResidence.org.
Interestingly, ZenCity, an Israel-based startup, recently completed the Startup in Residence program, using AI to help San Francisco’s 311 program better route service requests to the correct departments. CEO Eyal Feder-Levy said Startup in Residence helped open doors for ZenCity.
Feder-Levy also went on to explain, “We all know that there are huge opportunities in gov tech, but one of the biggest challenges for entrepreneurs… is to get the access to the people who are actually experiencing these challenges, to get access to the data, to get access to the actual processes.”
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