How Startups Are Transforming the Smart City Movement

Jason Shueh at GovTech: “Remember the 1990s visions of the future? Those first incantations of the sweeping “smart city,” so technologically utopian and Tomorrowland-ish in design? The concept and solutions were pitched by tech titans like IBM and Cisco, cost obscene amounts of money, and promised equally outlandish levels of innovation.

It was a drive — as idealistic as it was expedient — to spark a new industry that infused cities with data, analytics, sensors and clean energy. Two-and-a-half decades later, the smart city market has evolved. Its solutions are more pragmatic and its benefits more potent. Evidence brims inSingapore, where officials boast that they can predict traffic congestion an hour in advance with 90 percent accuracy. Similarly, in Chicago, the city has embraced analytics to estimate rodent infestations and prioritizerestaurant inspections. These of course are a few standouts, but as many know, the movement is highly diverse and runs its fingers through cities and across continents.

And yet what’s not as well-known is what’s happened in the last few years. The industry appears to be undergoing another metamorphosis, one that takes the ingenuity inspired by its beginnings and reimagines it with the help of do-it-yourself entrepreneurs….

Asked for a definition, Abrahamson centered his interpretation on tech that enhances quality of life. With the possible exception of health care, finance and education — systems large enough to merit their own categories, Abrahamson explains smart cities by highlighting investment areas at Specific areas are packaged as follows:

Mobility and Logistics: How cities move people and things to, from and within cities.

Built Environment: The public and private spaces in which citizens work and live.

Utilities: Critical resources including water, waste and energy.

Service Delivery: How local governments provide services ranging from public works to law enforcement….

Who’s Investing?

….Here is a sampling of a few types, with examples of their startup investments.

General Venture Capitalists

a16z (Andreessen Horowitz) – Mapillary and Moovit

Specialty Venture Capitalists

Fontinalis – Lyft, ParkMe, LocoMobi

Black Coral Capital – Digital Lumens, Clean Energy Collective, newterra

Govtech Fund – AmigoCloud, Mark43, MindMixer

Corporate Venture Capitalists

Google Ventures – Uber, Skycatch, Nest

Motorola Solutions Venture Capital – CyPhy Works and SceneDoc

BMW i Ventures – Life360 and ChargePoint

Impact/Social Investors

Omidyar Network – SeeClickFix and Nationbuilder

Knight Foundation – Public Stuff, Captricity

Kapor Capital – Uber, Via, Blocpower

1776 – Radiator Labs, Water Lens… (More)