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San Antonio Enlisting Help From Startups

Brandon Watts http://bit.ly/1gXUTNn

Two companies — Kinetech and Reckon Point — will embed in San Antonio city departments to solve problems as part of CivTechSA.

The city partnered with Geekdom and released seven challenges in January [link] from departments ranging from the airport to solid waste as part of the program. The companies now have 16 weeks to develop a solution that they can then sell to the city.  

Eight companies applied. The city initially said it would award three residencies, but went with two they felt most confident in.

“They really stood out,” said Kate Mason of the city’s innovation office. “They were just kind of heads above the rest.”

Kinetech, a six-person, cloud-software company, applied for three challenges and was selected to streamline the emergency utility assistance application program for the city's human services department.

"Some of the applicants weren't able to fill out the applications properly, but they are still submitting them,” Kinetech’s Bo McGuffey said, “and it creates a logjam for the individuals that are evaluating the applications, while at the same time applicants not understanding where they stand in the process."

By digitizing it for mobile and web, the city can get more complete applications, said McGuffey and people are automatically notified about their application status.

Reckon Point will take on the airport challenge, which included aggregating flight information and airport maps that exist across multiple platforms.

“Their approach to it was very innovative using a robot they’ve invented to do some indoor mapping,”  said Jose De La Cruz, innovation office director.

Jose De La Cruz (right)

While the city reduced the number of residencies and a couple of companies withdrew from the competition, Geekdom’s Joyce Dueley said the pilot year is exceeding expectations

“I am ecstatic about the numbers,” she said. “I think with any new program the fact that you have a pretty decent response and a lot of engagement from the community is a success.”

City staff said response has been on par with the first year of San Francisco’s Startups in Residence program, which it drew inspiration from.

CivTechSA’s pilot year also includes a number of technology challenges for students. They have collaborations with several local universities including Trinity and Incarnate Word.

Paul Flahive can be reached at paul@tpr.org or on Twitter @paulflahive.


Paul Flahive can be reached at Paul@tpr.org and on Twitter at @paulflahive