Can These Entrepreneurs Solve The Intractable Problems Of City Government?

FastCoExist: “In case the recent Obamacare debacle didn’t make it clear enough, the government has some serious problems getting technology to work correctly. This is something that President Obama has recognized in the past. In July, he made this statement: “I’m going to be asking more people around the country–more inventors and entrepreneurs and visionaries–to sign up to serve. We’ve got to have the brightest minds to help solve our biggest challenges.”
In San Francisco, that request has been taken on by the newly minted Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) program–the first ever government-run program that helps startups to develop technologies that can be used to deal with pressing government issues. It’s kind of like a government startup incubator. This week, the EIR program announced 11 finalists for the program, which received 200 applications from startups across the world. Three to five startups will ultimately be chosen for the opportunity….
The 11 finalists range from small startups with just a handful of people doing cutting-edge work to companies valued at over $1 billion. Some of the highlights:

  • Arrive Labs, a company that crowdsources public transit data and combines it with algorithms and external conditions (like the weather) to predict congestion, and to offer riders faster alternatives.
  • A startup called Regroup that offers group messaging through a number of channels, including email, text, Facebook, Twitter, and digital signs.
  • Smart waste management company Compology, which is working on a wireless waste monitoring system to tell officials what’s inside city dumpsters and when they are full.
  • Birdi, a startup developing smart air quality, carbon monoxide, and smoke detectors that send alerts to your smartphone. The company also has an open API so that developers can pull in public outdoor air quality data.
  • Synthicity’s 3-D digital city simulation (think “real-life Simcity”), which is based on urban datasets. The simulation is geared towards transportation planners, urban designers, and others who rely on city data to make decisions…”