These GovTech Companies are Making a Difference with Their Solutions
At Public Spend Forum, we are passionate about the power of civic technology to improve government programs and the lives of the citizens they serve. We were proud to feature several GovTech startups at the Procurement Technology Symposium in Los Angeles last June, where we listened to inspirational leaders describe their goals for positively disrupting government service delivery and the procurement process.
It got us thinking about the impact of technology on government, and motivated us to explore other civic tech trends and feature just a few of the many startups that are looking to make an impact in the year ahead. Here are eight emerging government technology contractors whose technology solutions hold great promise for improving the way we live, work, and engage within the public sector.
Several of the startups that made our list feature women in civic tech, including StormSensor which is led by Erin Rothman. Their technology solution covers all the bases of storm and sewer water project workflow by addressing a problem that cities and localities across the country deal with every day: keeping up with ever-changing regulations that require them to monitor and report stormwater quality in their districts.
For example, municipalities are required to inspect every catch basin in the nation at least once annually, which is quite a lift for under-resourced local governments. StormSensor solves the problem with easier site management and access to reams of data that is required to pass inspections. Unlike traditional monitoring equipment, StormSensor’s Scute™ sensors are inexpensive enough to be deployed at multiple locations across a sewershed, helping local governments monitor combined sewage overflow through a network of data-harvesting sensors. Erin Rothman, CEO of StormSensor, cited this as a $32 billion problem affecting municipalities across the country at our recent Procurement Technology Symposium.
We’ll go ahead and say it: the government struggles with buying technology. There is a lot of activity at the federal level to address this challenge (see: USDS, 18F), but its also difficult for local governments to stay ahead of the technology curve. CoProcure hopes to solve this problem by helping local governments find, buy, and share high-quality technology products via streamlined, cooperative procurement.
Cooperative purchasing programs deliver value when public agencies join to procure solutions that solve common problems. When applied to technology, cooperative purchasing helps organizations save time, money, and resources. CoProcure is working with agencies in California to pool resources and cooperatively purchase aerial imagery. The resulting benefit for those agencies comes from better pricing from government contractors and the efficiencies that result when redundancies are eliminated from agency to agency.
Learn more about the program here; interested agencies should express their initial interest in participating by September 14, 2018.
ProudCity understands that a government’s website is the primary point of contact for the communities and constituents they serve. From quickly finding information to making payments, public sector websites must be intuitive, mobile-friendly, secure and accessible. And they must continuously evolve to meet modern visual and technical standards.
ProudCity uses a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model to help organizations build effective websites, online forms, and payments. Even web design novices can quickly and cost-effectively launch their digital presence through ProudCity’s onboarding process, or take advantage of it’s self-managed approach to get started right away. Unlike traditional government website providers, ProudCity offers a platform-based service that deploys new features, enhancements, bug fixes and security upgrades on a recurring schedule. With no action required to deploy new features, IT and digital leaders will feel confident their web presence is continuously evolving to keep with the pace of digital change.
Since launching three years ago, ProudCity now serves more than 30 public sector organizations at the state, local, and agency level such as San Rafael, Calif.; Kettering, Ohio; Sonoma, Calif., Sonoma County Recovers and ELGL.
CityGrows makes it easier for local governments to manage the permitting process through it’s cloud platform. Best of all, local governments can get started right away, for free, to bring their forms and processes online. Once established, the CityGrows cloud permitting platform lets constituents apply for permits online, track applications, and make payments in a transparent fashion to build healthy relationships between citizens and city hall.
The free version is simple, intuitive, and requires no training. According to their website, users can convert a paper-based process into a CityGrows cloud-based process in as little as ten minutes with unlimited workflows and users (the platform does take a small payment processing fee on each transaction).
Organizations seeking to do more with the platform can select from either the premium or custom version for additional support and features. Interested in seeing what CityGrows can do for your permit process? You can get started with the free version at any time, no credit card required, with the ability to export data from the system at point in the process. With no lock-in, minimal set up costs, and the ability to try before you by, how can you say no to that?
RideAlong is a startup with a noble mission: to help cities and counties better serve individuals with mental illness, chemical dependencies, homelessness, and intellectual disabilities. They accomplish this mission by giving city workers (police officers, medical, and emergency professionals, etc.) on-demand and real-time information to prepare them for interactions with vulnerable citizens, which helps to de-escalate volatile situations and better serve their communities.
RideAlong’s software gives city and county frontline workers the context they need to make informed decisions, facilitate safer interactions, and build trust in their communities. With the information delivered through their mobile app technology, it empowers frontline workers with better knowledge and situational awareness to keep tense situations from escalating into dangerous episodes. And RideAlong isn’t just guessing about what these critical professionals need to do their jobs, they go out and talk to the end user to bake those needs into their design process.
Malicious cyberbots have been around nearly as long as the internet, and just like the internet they are getting smarter every day. For citizen-facing government services, any account log in or identify verification layer will be constantly under attack by malicious bots looking to penetrate security layers and wreak havoc on sensitive data.
According to Distil Networks, bot detection solutions like CAPTCHA tests can be defeated by cyber attackers and, due to the poor user experience they create, frustrate citizens and deter them from completing online transactions. As an alternative to such single point cyber protection solutions, Distil Networks offers a holistic approach that provides “the most visibility and control over human, good bot, and bad bot traffic.”
Distil brands itself as the “global leader in bot detection and mitigation,” claiming to block 99.9% of bad bots to protect an organization’s web properties from scraping, brute force attacks, competitive data mining, account hijacking, unauthorized vulnerability scans, spam, man-in-the-middle attacks, and click fraud. If any of these nefarious tactics are keeping you up at night, give Distil Networks a look.
Digital threat management is an existential threat to an organization’s digital footprint, with most of the vulnerability existing beyond an organization’s firewall. In fact, 75% of government security breaches are due to external threats like phishing, malvertising, ransomware, rogue mobile apps, compromised sites, brand abuse, and fake social media accounts. RiskIQ is the world leader in digital threat management, providing the most comprehensive discovery, intelligence, and mitigation of threats associated with an organization’s digital presence.
RiskIQ’s threat management suite allows enterprises to gain unified insight and control over web, social, and mobile exposures, which is especially critical for public sector organizations seeking to serve citizens wherever they are on the web.
RiskIQ has developed a platform that combines advanced internet data reconnaissance and analytics to expedite investigations, understand attack surfaces, assess risk, and take action against digital threats. Organizations interested in their product suite can sign up for a free community edition of their digital threat hunters and digital threat defenders to reduce their attack surface across web, mobile, and social channels.
With a tagline of “We make government work in a digital world,” Skylight lives up to the billing by using design, technology, and procurement to enable government success in this digital age. The company launched in June of 2017 and features a team of former civic technologists and Presidential Innovation Fellows with experience in federal government digital organizations like 18F and the United States Digital Service.
Now a certified HUBZone company, Skylight helps public sector organizations with digital services delivery, digital procurement, and digital transformation. The company is on the leading edge of the transition from large scale “waterfall” style procurement technology approaches to a more modular approach of micropurchasing. Public Spend Forum readers may recognize Skylight team members Chris Cairns and Robert Read, who have supported several webinars and podcasts offering key advice and information to help governments modernize their technology through agile and modular delivery methods.
Are you a GovTech Startup? Check Out These Great Resources!
If you or your startup has an idea or a prototype that can help public sector organizations improve their service delivery or operations, there are plenty of great resources you can leverage for guidance, funding, and acceleration.
For instance, San Francisco’s Startup In Residence Program (STIR) is a 16-week program that connects government partners with technology startups to work together on civic challenges. Offering a streamlined procurement process, STIR can bring on emerging govtech and startup companies into the public sector faster to tackle challenges such as mobility, civic engagement, public utilities, and asset management. The latest STIR cohort includes several exciting startups, including ZenCity which uses machine learning to help improve the routing process for 311 service requests. Nordsense is another public sector artificial intelligence startup in the cohort, helping San Francisco Public Works improve the management of public trash cans by installing sensors that connect to an analytics platform to help manage the cans.
Learn more about STIR here, and listen to our podcast from one of the program’s founders, Jay Nath, who helped launch the program in 2014.
There are also several accelerator programs that are dedicated to bringing innovative new companies into the public sector. A terrific example is Dcode, a stage-agnostic technology accelerator that helps emerging technologies break down barriers and go-to-market quickly in the federal government. The Dcode accelerator is a three-month program that helps emerging tech companies break through the process of working with the federal government by providing strategic support and exposure. Learn more about their programs here.
Got an emerging civic technology company on your radar that we didn’t include in our list? Share it with us in the comments section, and be sure to tell us why you like them!