City Challenges

When you apply to Startup in Residence, you must respond to a challenge issued by a city government department. This city will be your partner throughout the 16-week program.

Twelve government partners have identified 37 civic challenges. For questions, first refer to the Frequently Asked Questions before submitting a new question.

Filter by Category

Boulder, CO - Open Data PDF Converter - B1

Problem Statement: Streamline information from PDFs, City websites and other resources into easily accessible open data.

Context: Boulder published its open data policy in May of 2017. As a city, we publish a great deal of information onto our website maps, visualizations, reports. Many of these sources could be, but are not open data. Building an open data library is essential to making the policy real, and we’re looking for strategies to accelerate growth in the availability of data and lower the barriers to entry for departments.

Technology Need: We’d like to develop a software that would help us open information we already have available on our website. The software would crawl our website looking for data that is already publicly available but in the form of maps, apps, excel files, PDFs and other documents and not necessarily machine readable. The software would then take (tabular) data from these sources and convert into open data. We have an open data website so the machine readable documents would be put into a queue to be reviewed through our standard publication process and published to our catalog (

A big hurdle for departments is the effort required to convert documents into multiple formats. We’d like to be able to help them do that. We believe this software/bot could use our extensive search index which already captures the information about documents that are loaded to our website.

Boulder, CO - Public Record and Engagement App - B2

Problem Statement: Enable the City of Boulder’s Council to be more responsive to residents by digitizing their public record and engagement process.

Context: Council Correspondence-Boulder city council members are all elected at large, that is, they don’t represent specific wards or geographies. Our council is also a part time council meaning they all have full time jobs outside of their council duties. Currently, residents are able to email all of council and about 40 department directors through a single email address ( The process for culling through the thousands of emails, determining which should be responded to and by whom is incredibly cumbersome. Residents do not always feel as though their concerns are addressed and city staff often spin through the process of responding. Not to mention the fact that we aren’t really able to use the information for sentiment analysis. Finally, email is cumbersome and difficult to make useful as public record, especially once a back and forth shifts from a group to a one on one conversation.

Technology Need:  Design a solution that would enable the City of Boulder to be able to respond more quickly to constituents and have a more effective process for culling through hundreds of emails and getting to resolution for constituents. The tool would allow for easy workflow getting the right emails to the right department and confirming we’ve closed the loop. Secondary but important functionality would include sentiment analysis, tending. As this are public documents/communications, we would need to be able to publish the emails with some easy means.

Boulder, CO - Process Automation for Accounts Payable - B3

Problem Statement: Help improve Boulder’s Accounts Payable system by developing a solution that would enable them to have better a process, better data and enable a better understanding of their spend.

Context: Robotic process automation for accounts payable: Many city processes are tedious and repetitive. We believe this provides excellent opportunities for the application of process automation. We’d like our initial use case to be the very transactional task of processing accounts payable receipts.  Our finance department in particular is interested in the results of more consistent process and application of business rules in terms of our data quality and ability to manage costs as a result. Bills come into all parts of the city and are entered in a decentralized way. Data and entry is inconsistent which makes it difficult to manage and understand costs on the back end. People use different object codes for the same thing, and often enter comments which may or may not be relevant or even appropriate for entry. We’d like better process, better data and enable better understanding of our spend.

Technology Need: The City of Boulder seeks to improve our accounts payable process. The tool would reduce the workload of our Accounts Payable team, and allow them to focus on the receipts/invoices that come in via paper or other more strategic work. We’re interested in exploring deployment of a bot for one department and understanding how we can scale. We are seeking a tool that opens emails, enters data into the City’s financial system, aligns and identifies vendor names, and confirm amounts etc.We are interested in exploring a robotic process for the accounts payable function but really with the understanding that this solution set could be deployed on other highly transactional processes throughout the city.

Houston, TX - Employee Contact System - H1

Problem Statement: The City of Houston does not have a centralized employee contact system, which reduces the efficiency in activating employees during emergency and non-emergency events.

Context: Depending on the situation, City employees need to be reached to verify their safety and/or activated for emergency response. Vital information collected can be useful in addressing language barriers and identifying staff for location specific events. The Houston Health Department and other City agencies currently do not have an efficient way to contact employees. This can lead to delays in the reaction to certain functional areas in an emergency. The Health Department collects vital information on its employees annually which can be redundant.

Technology Need: Houston seeks a solution that will enable us to collect vital information on employees, and contact them quickly during emergency response events. The solution would include a secure, web-based database that can query certain employees by department(s), roles, location, or other parameters. An automated means to scrub the data to remove duplicates and expunge contact info for people who are no longer with the City. Ultimately, we want to be able to poll by phone and email employees by select criteria and determine their ability to report for a new (emergency) duty assignment. We could be looking to staff over 50 separate sites across the City with approximately 100 people at each per shift with little advance warning. The database would need to be able to interface with an existing mass alerting system or perform push notifications to dynamic groups of employees by email, phone, and text.

Houston, TX - City Facility and Infrastructure Inventory Tool - H2

Problem Statement:  The City’s facility/infrastructure inventory is incomplete, and the current inventory process is siloed, time-consuming, and not comprehensive.

Context: The City’s insurance schedule is incomplete (it does not include all insurable buildings). City-wide facility metadata is incomplete, making it difficult to track where things are, what resources are available, and when information changes. A centralized and comprehensive facility inventory would help departments manage their resources more efficiently.

Technology Need: The City of Houston is seeking a solution that would enable us to track and manage the City’s facility and infrastructure inventory online. The solution would leverage civic engagement/crowdsourcing and could also satellite data and machine learning to create a comprehensive inventory of the City’s facilities/infrastructure. The inventory would ideally include all information related to the City’s facilities/infrastructure (where/what/who is in it, age, energy usage, insured value, etc.) This information could be crowdsourced or compiled from existing data sources.

Houston, TX - Electronic Consent Tool - H3

Problem Statement: The Houston Health Department’s process for receiving consent forms is inefficient, costly, and limits their ability to provide services to the maximum number of citizens.

Context: Obtaining client consent through school programs, specifically See to Succeed and Project Saving Smiles, is paper-based and cumbersome. Failure to complete the consenting process excludes clients from receiving services and can prolong time to treatment and services. When participants fail to sign consent, they often get lost before finishing the program or receiving treatment, which means the Department reaches fewer people. Even when consent forms are signed, they must be physically collected, transported back to the department, and entered manually into a system. This creates inefficiencies on staff time and enables opportunities for errors.

Technology Need: The Health Department would like to transition to electronic consent forms only (no paper) in a user-friendly platform that can be accessed by clients on a smartphone, tablet or computer to reduce loss to follow-up and complete the consenting process. The form needs to be secure, mobile accessible, and user friendly. It also needs to be available in multiple languages.

Houston, TX - Alert System for Drivers - H4

Problem Statement: Creating an alert system for drivers based on their location with specific information regarding flooded streets, intersections, ramps, and underpasses.

Context: Currently, the National Weather Service issues flood advisories at the county and city level when flooding is expected. These announcements, however, are too broad and difficult for individuals to act on (Harris County is 1700 square miles and the City of Houston 627 square miles). Most flooding-related deaths occur in vehicles. During Hurricane Harvey, 36 individuals died in the Houston area, nearly all of which were drownings. Devastating flood events in 2015 and 2016 also caused 16 deaths and millions of dollars in damage to or loss of vehicles. There are 60 underpasses within the City of Houston, most of which flood during heavy rain events.

Technology Need:
Design a solution that would enable the City of Houston to warn drivers as they are in danger of driving into flooded underpasses. The solution would utilize and combine the high water sensors in underpasses and other vulnerable areas. Flood early warning systems need to be more specific to location and must reach citizens via their smart phones. This could be achieved ideally through a push alert (similar to a Wireless Emergency Alert) or technology/GPS system applications. Absent the push notification capability, street-specific forecasting data should be tied to popular smartphone apps such as: Google Maps; MapQuest; WAZE, HERE; Apple Maps; Polaris; OpenStreetMap; Sygic; Scout; inRoute; MapFactor;; and others. Drivers should have the benefit of all available predictive and real-time flood information.

Metropolitan Transportation Commission, CA - Responder Communication System - MTC1

Problem Statement: Streamline and optimize the critical exchange of traffic incident information between emergency responders from Caltrans and other agencies.

Context: The Bay Area Incident Management Task Force (IMTF) is a multi-agency partnership to promote and facilitate coordination among Bay Area traffic incident management and response personnel to enhance the safe and quick clearance of traffic incidents. Responders need accurate, real-time descriptions of an incident scene. This information can help to prevent miscommunication between responders and reduce the time spent on the roadway by ensuring appropriate equipment is dispatched quickly to the scene. Each minute saved in clearing an incident saves an estimated four minutes of traffic delay, reducing the time responders and motorists spend in harm’s way, while also easing congestion, limiting the risk of secondary incidents, and reducing tailpipe emissions.

Technology Need: The IMTF is seeking a mobile interface to support real-time information sharing from responders at an incident scene and to build incident response timelines for post-incident analysis. This is a new effort that expands on an initial concept and app created by the IMTF in 2015. The new system should:

  • Automatically update responder status when they arrive and leave the scene of an incident.
  • Incorporate data from outside sources, such as the CHP CAD xml feed, 511 Traffic API, and Waze to identify incident locations and associate responders with incidents when they are on scene. It should allow for the real-time sharing of photos, GPS location, key information and updates by multiple types of responder agencies, including Caltrans, fire departments, and tow operators.
  • Other desired features include the ability for responders to provide customized updates to Caltrans and MTC management and others, and an interface to view incident and response statistics.
Metropolitan Transportation Commission, CA - Regional Transit Connection Discount Card Application Interface - MTC2

Problem Statement: Improve the application process for the Regional Transit Connection (RTC) Discount Clipper Card.

Context: In the San Francisco Bay Area, the Regional Transit Connection (RTC) Discount Card is a version of Clipper available to persons with qualifying disabilities to receive discounted fares on fixed-route, rail, and ferry systems. Applications, including forms and documentation, for the RTC card are accepted in-person at select transit agency locations during limited hours. After verification via a central processing office, qualified applicants are mailed an RTC Clipper card for use on Bay Area transit services. The RTC card application process is time consuming and complicated, especially for persons with disabilities who may have mobility limitations or cognitive impairments.

Technology Need: MTC is seeking to improve the discount clipper card application process by creating an online RTC card application interface that would allow qualified riders to apply for a card without having to go in-person to a transit agency office. The interface should enable registrants to securely provide personal information and upload required documentation for eligibility and identity verification purposes. The application process should include a secure payment interface, and allow applicants to create an account to enable updates to information and card renewal. The RTC interface should integrate with the existing RTC database and should provide an admin portal to enter applications, review/update status, and run reports. MTC’s desire is for the interface to be developed on the Salesforce platform as part of an overall customer relationship management implementation for Clipper. In the future, this online interface could be extended to other Clipper discount cards and a regional means-based fare discount, which is currently being studied by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

Metropolitan Transportation Commission, CA - Regional GTFS Feed - MTC3

Problem Statement: Improve regional transit information delivery through integrated transit service and connectivity data.

Context: MTC, as part of its transit coordination role in the San Francisco Bay Area, provides traveler information services through the 511 SF Bay Program. MTC collects data from more than 30 Bay Area transit services, stores data in a regional data repository, and then disseminates transit information through 511 dissemination channels, and industry standard data APIs and feeds, including the General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS), which defines a common format for public transportation schedules and associated geographic information. 511 SF Bay and individual transit operators currently provide GTFS feeds separately for each transit service, however, individualized GTFS feeds cannot capture many critical aspects of regional transit travel, such as transfers, shared stops and stations, and commonly known landmarks. A regional GTFS feed would connect these important aspects of transit travel, enabling GTFS data consumers, including Google, Apple, and transit apps to enhance transit trip planning for the public.

Technology Need: 511 SF Bay is seeking a technology solution that would integrate GTFS feeds of all transit agencies in the San Francisco Bay Area metropolitan region into a single, regional GTFS feed. The regional feed may further qualify and extend data definitions, as allowed by the standard GTFS specification. This project could occur in two phases:

  • Phase 1, Planning and Design: Review of use cases and needs for a regional GTFS feed, development of requirements, identification of data needs, and documentation of potential extensions to the GTFS specification.
  • Phase 2, Prototype Development: Development of sample data and prototype software.

511 SF Bay would like to complete phase 1, and as much of phase 2 as possible, during the residency. The technical approach could enlist 511 SF Bay’s transit APIs and GTFS feeds as data sources. A successful solution, if ultimately deployed within the 511 SF Bay system, will provide data consumers the flexibility to choose from individualized GTFS feeds or the regional integrated GTFS feed.

Miami-Dade County, FL - Bus Service Planning Application - MD1

Problem Statement: Allow staff to quickly evaluate suitability of changes to the alignment and operation of bus routes and deployment of new services.

Context: DTPW manages the 15th largest transit system in the nation, a service area of approximately 306 square miles, and serving all of metropolitan Miami-Dade, and parts of Broward and Monroe Counties. The existing bus network operates over 800 buses in 98 routes, transporting 65% (194,000 daily boardings) of the total daily transit ridership. DTPW staff are always seeking for bus route and service improvements to increase the efficiency, reliability and consistency of bus service, while simultaneously seeking to identify savings through restructuring the alignment of bus routes, eliminating duplication of service and adjusting service to match ridership demand. When planning for bus service improvements (e.g., changes to existing bus routes and provision of new services), DTPW staff perform operational and service equity impact analyses using data and information available. This is a time-consuming process, since different data sets are collected and maintained by different divisions within the agency, requiring interagency collaboration, and different software platforms are used to gather data and model service improvements.

Current Challenges:

  1. Decentralized Database and Interagency Data Access, Sharing and Visualization:
  2. Lack of Mobility Pattern Data:
  3. Bus Route Segmentation

Technology Tool: Develop a data-based solution to inform bus service planning. The holistic platform or technology solution that can aggregate, integrate, and visually represent data (bus service attributes, operational performance, demographic and traffic data) to make the planning process easier and faster, and help inform planning, prioritization, allocation of resources/budgeting and decision making processes of bus service projects including implementation of new transit service, improvements to existing services, implementation of new service delivery models, use of exclusive bus lanes, etc.

The technology tool should (1) be accessible via web, smartphones and other mobile devices, (2) facilitate the analysis of bus route operations and service performance by bus route segments, transit corridor segments, and roadway segments, based on pre-defined time points, and (3) generate interactive multi-layer maps to illustrate single bus route or group of bus routes along with selected bus service attributes (e.g., frequency, ridership, and load by day and time of the day), on-time route performance (e.g., percentage of time a bus arrive early, on-time, late), demographics, overlapping routes with general attributes (such as route classification, frequency and ridership), and traffic information (Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT), level of service, average delay and travel time data, etc.) by route segments or roadway segments, and estimate of operating costs.

Miami-Dade County, FL - Smart Parking Application - MD2

Problem Statement: Address insufficient parking capacity at stations by allowing drivers to make real-time trip planning decisions before leaving their original destination.

Context: Currently, real-time parking information is available for parking garages at some stations but the information is limited and no projected parking space availability (percentage or number) at ETA is provided. DTPW manages the 15th largest transit system in the nation, a service area of approximately 306 s.q.mi., and serving all of the metropolitan Miami-Dade, and parts of Broward and Monroe Counties. DTPW’s Metrorail system, a 25-mile heavy rail system serving 23 stations, transports 70,900 passengers every day (23% of all daily transit boardings). The Metrorail southern terminus is a major transit hub, connecting with 22-mile exclusive transit way, major heavy traffic corridors and multiple bus routes serving County’s south and southwestern areas. Daily boardings at the three southernmost stations combined account for 24% of the total Metrorail boardings. Daily demand for parking at the three southernmost Metrorail stations combined exceeds the park-n-ride capacity of 5,166 parking spaces by 8:30 am. Insufficient parking capacity at stations is adding additional circulating traffic at parking garages and nearby streets, making travelers’ trip time longer, and causing frustration and uncertainty.

Technology Tool: Develop a solution  (or feature within the MTD tracker) to help inform travelers’ trip planning decisions before leaving their original destination. Drivers will be able to see in real time what’s available at Metrorail parking garages and park-and-ride facilities before starting their journey to a transit station. The solution will include a mobile and integrated management system.

  • The a mobile app to allow users to access parking information in real-time, including number of parking spaces available, number of parking spaces available by classification (handicapped, EVs, Vanpool, and carsharing designated parking, parking space size), location of available parking spaces, and a map illustrating all parking spaces available.
  • The technology solution should generate data reports and origin-destination maps from registered parking passes (addresses, zip codes, demographics, pass type, etc.) to inform DTPW’s service planning activities such implementation of new services, new service delivery models, services improvements, parking facility improvements, etc. This tool will help users to make informed decisions, reduce travel time spent circulating for parking, reduce circulating traffic, and improve customer satisfaction, while reducing uncertainty.
Miami-Dade County, FL - Crowdsourcing App for Infrastructure Inventory and Reporting - MD3

Problem Statement: Facilitate and expedite transit infrastructure inventory, assessment, inspection and repair processes by allowing residents to report issues in real-time.

Context: DTPW is the agency responsible for the planning, management and operation of all aspects of the transportation network in Miami-Dade County; such as transit, traffic engineering, traffic signals and signs, highway design, and the regulatory arm for for-hire transportation services. Currently, DTPW infrastructure inventory, assessment, and inspections are performed mainly through field visits and data entry is done manually. Issues are also reported.

Technology Tool: Develop a mobile app to facilitate problem reporting, inventory, assessment, maintenance and repair while keeping residents and stakeholders involved. crowdsourcing tool (mobile app) with a Google Maps depicting major transportation infrastructure elements (traffic signals, signs, crosswalks, light poles, transit stop amenities, transit stations and facilities, etc.) and location for residents to report problems/issues in real time and anonymously. Develop a crowdsourcing tool (platform/mobile app) accessible via app and web, allowing DTPW staff to access notifications associated with infrastructure issues in real time without the need to be in the field. This tool should facilitate and expedite DTPW infrastructure inventory, assessment, inspections and repair processes.

Richmond, VA - Financial Services Navigation Tool - R1

Problem Statement: Develop a technology tool that helps guides residents through services and resources available through the Office of Community Wealth Building.

Context: The Office of Community Wealth Building, or OCWB, serves as a conduit for customers to navigate available programs, services, and resources to support their elevation out of poverty. A key challenge facing this Office is knowing the pathway for each customer through the process. Currently, the Office has limited way of tracking each customer through the services available and has limited ways to communicate new programs and events to specific customers. Most of the interactions are face-to-face and are paper-based. The ability to proactively communicate, schedule follow-up meetings, and ultimately track their progress through the ecosystem is necessary to positively impact their pursuit of self-sufficiency as well as track and report out the outcomes of their efforts.

Technology Needed: The Office of Community Wealth Building, or OCWB, is looking for a mobile friendly, cloud-based software solution for customers of the OCWB to best navigate and access the vast array of services that supports their journey from dependence on government services to self-sufficiency. The technology solution developed for OCWB will capture the demographic information about each registered user and their household to best provide access to available resources, programs, and services. One key challenge facing OCWB is the lack of tracking each customer’s journey through the services available. This solution must allow for tracking each customers progress through utilizing OCWB resources as well as allow for OCWB staff to push events to specific users based upon their demographic information and profile. The targeted users will be the OCWB staff and a select group of customers to provide input as to define the ideal environment to create this solution.

The technology solution will be focused on connecting the OCWB staff and resources directly with their customers. This relationship needs to be strengthened, designed to be consistent, and focused on engaging the customer throughout the relationship. From supporting the data capture from the customers, to catering programs and schedules around specific targeted needs, to tracking and recording each customer’s journey through OCWB services. Possible technical requirements:

  • Better know our customers – we must transition from being face-to-face only engagement and move to being more digitally engaged with customers and to better meet their needs based upon their demographics which are currently not always known.
  • Improved engagement with customers – we need a way to better communicate and engage with our customers to either continue their growth or
  • Activity tracking – we do not know the customer’s journey through OCWB services and this is vital to being able to assure development of skills and abilities to elevate them out of poverty
  • Gamify engagement – customers earn badges, awards, or are entered into drawings for participating in OCWB services and programs
  • Scheduling – appointments, events, and meetings need to be shared and allow for customers to become more accountable and engaged in 21st century ways
San Francisco, CA - Improving 311 Request Routing - SF1

Problem Statement: Reduce the error rate and promote improved response time for 311 self-service request options as they increase in number and usage.

Context: SF311 is the central intake point for information and service requests for the City. The public preference for submitting 311 requests has shifted to making requests through self-service. As self-service request options grow, so does the difficulty for the public to select the ‘correct’ option. Common requests are for Graffiti Abatement and Sidewalk Cleaning. For both service types, the object to be addressed changes the agency responsible for the work. Requests are routed based on the problem selected through a series of menu choices.  Incorrect selections cause incorrect routing, leading to additional work for City staff and delayed response by the correct agency. Adding menu options and questions complicates the submission process without always improving the response rate.

Technology Need: SF311 seeks a solution that will reduce the error rate and promote improved response time by agencies. The solution would evaluate case information provided by the user to SF311, such as the menu item selected, the URL to image, free text comments used to describe the request, and geographic information. The solution will compare the contents of the case to the defined service list and historical case data to identify the correct resolving agency for the submitted request. The service will return to 311 validation that the request type was correctly submitted, suggest an alternate type, or indicate it cannot determine the type.

San Francisco, CA - User-Friendly Solution for the SF Planning Code - SF2

Problem Statement: Improve the ability of planners and businesses to find information about a property and understand how the code applies to the property.

Context: The current San Francisco Planning Code is very complex for users and time-consuming for staff. Currently, simple questions require planners to manually search the code, increasing wait time and stress for users and sidetracking planners’ time.  A recurring challenge is understanding what uses/businesses are allowed on commercial property. The Planning Code is over 2,000 pages and constantly changing. Users spend countless hours trying to navigate the code to understand basic information about their property. While Planning’s web-based Property Information Map (PIM) system shows property data, zoning, and project information, users still have trouble understanding what is allowed in their zoning district. PIM can only show what a property is zoned for, and it directs users to a link within the Planning Code.

Technology Need: Planning seeks a solution that would make it easier for planners and businesses to find information about a property and understand how the code applies to the property. They would like to pull charts and information from the Planning Code into a user-friendly system. The new solution would decrease wait times for phone, in-person and email inquiries, reduce stress and angst associated with the process for users and allow planners more time to focus on more critical issues such as processing permits for affordable housing and providing answers to questions that are not easily accessible.

San Francisco, CA - Natural Language Interface for a Safe, Consistent, Predictable, Accessible Traveling Experience for SFO Customers - SF3

Problem Statement: Develop a natural language interface to create a safe, consistent, predictable and accessible traveling experience for all SFO customers.

Context: San Francisco International Airport (SFO) services 54 million guests per year through 39 international and 13 domestic airlines. These carriers service 46 international cities and 83 cities in the United States with 1200 daily flight operations at SFO. Collectively, a staff of 36,000 people run the airport through aviation operations and passenger facing services to a diverse audience.  Creating a predictable and consistent travel experience for the traveling public is predicated on accessible, timely, and accurate information.

Technology Need: SFO seeks an innovation partner to implement a natural language interface (i.e. Alexa, Siri, Cortana) to access and translate relevant airport information. By using native speech to access flight status, gate and restroom locations, concessions’ hours of operations, and other relevant information, passengers can use that information to make good decisions concerning their travel. Airport staff and partners can use this information to improve airport operations and to report emergency situations.  The natural language interface would be integrated with Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) used by a mobile application for staff or a kiosk at the information booth for passengers.

San Francisco, CA - "Whole Person Care" Mobile Care Encounter App - SF4

Problem Statement: Develop an effective, efficient, and usable tool to inform and track care encounters that occur in non-clinical settings.

Context: Roving healthcare providers and outreach/engagement teams of the Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing (HSH) seek to serve the homeless in non-clinical and street settings. At point of contact and while standing, they need to quickly know the individual’s status, histories and alerts and they need to record the encounter for documentation and billing.

Technology Need: DPH and HSH are seeking a new mobile tool that would improve the experience and outcomes of: Frontline staff by providing quick and secure access to a holistic view of client encounters; Clients by improving care coordination across health and housing services; and DPH, HSH, and other city agencies by accurately tracking client encounters. To meet the needs of the different stakeholders, the tool should:

  • Be appropriate to the care environment (street, park, shelters, etc.)
  • Have secure access that allows only the authorized user to open the device
  • Facilitate real-time point-of-service connection to master database to pull in client information
  • Allow for varying levels of access and formats depending upon role of worker
  • Facilitate transfer of encounter data into a master database
  • Leverage existing coordination efforts and assessment tools

Additional desired needs are to: Enable communication between members of the individual’s care team and be flexible to integrate with more than one underlying technology. We believe in a human-centered, collaborative, and iterative approach to product design and development. We expect the project to include: Primary research to understand needs and technological constraints; Prototype design and validation with clients, frontline staff, key stakeholders and; Development of an independent solution that integrates with existing data systems.

Per requirements under HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996), we anticipate that vendors will be required to sign a business associate agreement (BAA).

San Francisco, CA - Wearable Solution for Electronic Monitoring Devices - SF5

Problem Statement: Improved solution for electronic monitoring devices which are currently bulky, intrusive, inaccurate and easy to defeat.

Context: The San Francisco Sheriff’s Department strives to balance continued connection to the community and the need for public safety by electronically monitoring eligible individuals in the community as an alternative to secure custody. Current technology employs devices that are bulky, intrusive, inaccurate and easy to defeat. Further, the Sheriff’s Department cannot access data about electronically monitored individuals directly or conduct analysis on the data in real time.

Technology Need: The Sheriff’s Department seeks a device that is attached to a person that can report GPS and alcohol/drug consumption data in real time and be controlled remotely by Sheriff’s staff. Any attempt to defeat the equipment must be reported in real time. The data needs to be accessible and retrievable by the Sheriff’s Department 24 hours per day and encrypted before transmitting to a secure server (physically located in the United States) that meets U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and HIPAA standards. The data produced by the device must have an API that can communicate and integrate with a variety of systems. For GPS data it must show current and historical information regarding time and location, including speed, direction of travel, where applicable, and level of accuracy. For alcohol and drug monitoring, both current and historical information must be available. The Sheriff’s Department would prefer to have a graphical interface to display and analyze the data to identify trends and/or patterns in behavior.

The tool should enable phone notifications to be sent to the Sheriff’s Department, local dispatch and other specified parties when an offender enters a known “stay away zone”. By the start of the STIR residency, the vendor must be DOJ compliant; the Sheriff’s Department provides DOJ compliance training to its vendors. Vendors should take note of eligibility requirements for becoming DOJ compliant.

San Francisco, CA - Digitizing the Navigation of Street Sweeping Routes - SF7

Problem Statement: Implement technology to utilize digitized navigation routes for efficient, safe, distraction-free street sweeping route guidance for Public Works drivers.

Context:  San Francisco Public Works Bureau of Streets and Environmental Services is responsible for ensuring the cleanliness and safety of all public streets within the City. Currently, street sweepers use paper navigation route books generated by an antiquated program. Though the existing program utilizes underlying GIS basemap data, the software is time-consuming and challenging to use. The existing paper-based method of navigation is problematic, inefficient, and unsafe for Public Works drivers.

Technology Need: Public Works seeks an electronic navigation system that would digitize the routing and navigation process, enabling Public Works to have a more dynamic route management system. This would include software to create and adjust standardized routes on a specified schedule, an interface to display visual and audio turn-by-turn directions on each vehicle’s mounted tablet device, and the ability to track and record sweeping vehicle activity from scheduled run dates and times.

San Francisco, CA - Trash Can Sensors and Management - SF8

Problem Statement: Improve the management of public trash cans through reliable, durable sensor-based data collection, analysis and reporting.

Context: In order to improve the cleanliness of our communities and our operational efficiency, Public Works is seeking a solution that will help improve how we manage public trash cans. Today, when a trash can is overflowing, we are notified only if a resident reports the issue via 311. Overflowing trash cans are unusable, unsightly and create street litter. In addition, Public Works manually tracks the location and relocation of trash cans in a custom GIS database, which creates operational issues and suboptimal placement of trash cans.

Technology Need: We are looking for a solution that will:

  • Automatically notify Public Works of overflow, tip over, and door-related damage
  •  Support a digital workflow for trash can location management without the use of a GPS sensor on the can (will require integration with Public Works’ can data, which is managed by the GIS team)
  • Recommend the frequency and timing of servicing trash cans to reduce overflow and street litter
  • Recommend optimal placement of our trash cans to reduce overflow and street litter
  • Minimize servicing of any sensors for maintenance or battery replacement
  • Withstand the environmental and physical demands of being in the public realm
Santa Cruz, CA - Rental Assistance Landlord Navigator Tool - SC1

Problem Statement: Improve the onboarding process and enhance retention of landlords and property manager partners participating in rental assistance and housing programs.

Context: Santa Cruz County has approximately 2,250 homeless residents at any point in time and many thousands more live in a state of housing insecurity. Many of our low-income residents experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness have the means to pay to for their housing through rental assistance and housing programs. The largest of these programs, the Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8), has over 4,500 local housing voucher holders. Unfortunately, the number of voucher holders significantly exceeds the number of units available through landlord and property manager partners participating in the program. When a unit does become available, landlords are often overwhelmed by the applicant volume, making the process of finding a suitable tenant highly competitive and onerous. If a solution for this longstanding problem were available, the pool of landlords and property managers accepting rental assistance and housing programs such as Section 8 would increase as a result of reduced administrative burdens, streamlined processes, improved customer experience, rapid tenant matching, and other supports.

In response, the All-In Strategic Plan to address homelessness in our community led to the creation of the All-In Landlord Partnership in an effort to develop tools that address this problem led by Human Services Department and collaborative partners including County Administrative Office, Planning Department, and the Housing Authority of the County of Santa Cruz.

Technology Need: A tool allowing prospective and current landlords and property managers to streamline onboarding into housing programs, meet their pre-participation and ongoing program requirements, receive timely information and program participation support, confirm allowable competitive rental rates, and identify potential tenant matches without the need to advertise and wade through applications, would be helpful in gaining greater Section 8 and other housing subsidy program acceptance among the landlord community and ultimately contribute toward alleviating homelessness and promoting access to quality affordable housing.

Santa Monica, CA - Creating and Populating a Resident Data Model - SM1

Problem Statement: Develop a resident data model for Santa Monica, by bringing together data from their various services, forms and other city functions.

Context: When residents access or utilize city services, they have to maintain individual accounts for each of our services, forms, and other city functions. As a City, we are seeking to be more data-driven and want to begin by creating a better experience for ur residents, so we can serve them better and more proactively. We are interested in bringing together high-value data from our numerous systems: departments, divisions, business units who have worked independently to amass large stores of data; with no conformity, quality and/or validity. To be more data-driven, we need to address our massive data quality issues.

Technology Need: The City seeks a technology solution which may create a continuously expanding resident data model by bringing together and validating data from multiple disparate data sources. The net effect may be a series of rules we may implement using our existing toolsets, an algorithm which runs atop a data store, among other solutions. We ultimately wish to de-duplicate and validate our vast data stores to create a long resident record. The lone resident record may be used to populate a CRM, to make sign-ups for City services and forms easier, facilitate targeted communication and services, and to provide accurate demographic information for reporting purposes. The tool should be able to automatically push, pull, and validate data over time. All data processing and/or storage must occur on servers hosted within the City’s private, on-premise network.

Santa Monica, CA - Creating an Interactive Park Finder - SM2

Problem Statement: Develop an interactive Park finder that will enable visitors to quickly access information from all of Santa Monica’s parks and their activities.

Context: The City currently does not have a means to empower residents and/or visitors to find parks and amenities to meet their needs. We are also home to the world famous Santa Monica State Beach, covering 245 acres and offering visitors a variety of activities. Each of our parks offer unique experiences and opportunities, but we do not have a straight forward means of presenting all of our options to park visitors to allowing them to find parks which best cater to their needs.

Technology Need: A responsive web-experience able to connect to constantly refreshing data sources. The City will provide data, initially through static .csv exports, and over time, through RESTful API. The City’s data will be published through Socrata’s Open Data Portal and/or Esri Open Data. The product should account for interacting with data through both map-based and text-based interfaces, respectively. Additionally, each park provides activities and events which the public may participate in, and/or facilities which the public may reserve.  The City possesses the underlying data for activities, events, and facilities, but has no way to communicate them through an interactive user interface for the public to benefit from.

Vallejo, CA - Infrastructure Assessment, Mapping and Safety - V1

Problem Statement: Develop an assessment, mapping and safety application to identify, locate, assess and communicate the condition of subsurface and above-ground infrastructure.

Context: Develop an infrastructure assessment, mapping and safety application for the City of Vallejo’s Public Works and Water Department.

Aging infrastructure is a key issue for both urban and rural municipalities. It creates challenges in delivering reliable services to citizens and businesses. This leads to millions of dollars in additional costs and economic losses as well as project delays and service interruptions. The outdated plans and infrastructure of the City of Vallejo are slowing down and preventing construction, parcelization and development. Having a better understanding of our subsurface infrastructure will expedite development and reduce unforeseen issues in permitting, construction and sun setting of older infrastructure. We are currently using metal detectors to identify lines and the primary method to identify leaks is through substantial pressure drops. When it comes to our subsurface infrastructure we are reactive vs proactive. The development and refinement of tools to better visualize, analyze, assess, document and communicate our subsurface infrastructure is vital to Public Works and the Water Department.

Additionally, the city of Vallejo is looking to implement efficient, safe and robust techniques for above-ground infrastructure assessments and inspections to reduce costs, increase accessibility, improve safety and enhance service delivery. As the City of Vallejo continues to modernize its services, it is important that we consider the various types of data gathered. Methods to efficiently analyze and integrate that information into existing systems for active utilization is also vastly important, as no current technology exists to perform this function.

Technology Need: The City of Vallejo is seeking scalable and efficient ways to identify, locate, assess and communicate the condition of subsurface and above-ground utilities. The City of Vallejo is considering the procurement of a technology, such as a drone fleet, to perform this function and to provide a range of services. In order to accomplish this goal, a clear methodology and system for increasing the potential of each drone is necessary. Thus, the city sees a need for a technology (or technologies) that is adaptable for various uses. Considerations include:

  • The Water Department works in environmentally sensitive and sometimes difficult to access and/or dangerous areas. The goal is to reduce risk to on-site personnel and potentially reduce negative impacts on areas while still being able to collect valuable data.
  • The Building Department has a need for a safer way to provide inspections following hazardous events. As seen during the Napa Earthquake in 2014 and most recently with the North Bay fires, the city and region has a critical need to perform a significant # of inspections quickly to ensure safety and begin the redevelopment process.
Vallejo, CA - Data Governance and Security - V2

Problem Statement: Provide a permissioned, secured repository for shared city data easily accessible by departments.

Context: Network and shared data security are critical to the City of Vallejo’s ability to function and serve its constituents. This challenge has led to intense internal discussions regarding the need for effective data governance, permissioned accessibility and security across the organization. Potential applications for this technology could apply to city initiatives such as Open Data and GIS which are currently in their early development stages, as well as combating malicious external attacks and the need to sunset antiquated systems.

Technology Need: The City of Vallejo is seeking optimized systems that provide a repository of shared city data that can be searched under various criteria. This system should be permissioned by the I.T. department but accessible and clear to the various departments. This system ideally would reduce the time invested in scouring and compiling data sets. It must also ensure both security and integrity.

Vallejo, CA - City Fiber Initiative - V3

Problem Statement: Leverage city-owned assets such as street light and traffic signal poles to extend the City’s fiber optic network to cost-effectively distribute wifi service.

Context: In early 2017, the Vallejo City Council approved a Public-Private Partnership with Inyo Networks, Inc. that leased the City’s fiber optic and conduit network allowing Inyo to manage, operate and sell retail broadband internet services to businesses. As directed by City Council, the goal of the P3 has been to leverage City assets to encourage economic development, achieve net positive revenues, attract private investment and commerce, close the Digital Divide and improve the educational experience of Vallejo students, and enhance quality of life through wireless technology. On July 1, 2017, the City and Inyo launched the 40 Gigabit fiber optic network across the City, primarily targeting businesses and public agencies with large bandwidth needs. The City/Inyo rates are aggressive and can be as low as 1/5 of current incumbent prices, with speeds and reliability superior to existing services. As part of the network lease, Inyo pays the City 33% of monthly gross revenues, which are reinvested into the City’s Fiber Enterprise Fund to expand technology infrastructure.

The City faces some key challenges:

  1. Most of the City’s fiber optic cable is located in commercial areas, creating a financial obstacle to expanding into residential areas;
  2. Construction of a building entry is required to physically connect the customer to the network, and estimating these one-time construction costs is time consuming and requires a field survey;
  3. The actual costs of building entry construction (borne by the customer) sometimes deter businesses from subscribing for services;
  4. Current wireless distribution methods through existing conduit and points of access must be enhanced in order to increase service network and customer base.

Technology Need: With the network already launched and customers already subscribing for services, Vallejo’s fiber enterprise (VallejoNET) seeks a proof of concept for new and emerging technology solutions related to wireless application(s) that can utilize City-owned street light and traffic signal poles to cost-effectively distribute Wi-Fi service in both commercial districts and residential neighborhoods.

Walnut Creek, CA - Preferential Residential Permit Parking Process - WC1

Problem Statement: Digitize the Preferential Residential Permit Parking renewal process to save time for residents and staff.

Context: Right now, 1500 residences across 14 areas of the city are eligible to participate in the City’s Preferential Residential Permit Parking (PRPP) program, and many residents take advantage of it. However, the program is very time consuming for both residents and staff. Currently, it requires every participating resident to visit City Hall’s Permit Center in person every year in order to submit physical payment and get their resident sticker. It also takes up a large amount of staff time because the process is split between paper filing and a deprecated computer program that could fail any day, needs constant tracking, and requires in-person support for the residents who come in to pay their fees.  Moving the application and renewal process online and offering online payment would reduce 95% of Traffic Engineering’s staff time at the Permit Center and save the public from in-person wait times. Moving PRPP to an online application would be a big improvement in the City’s service delivery.

Technology Need: We need a technology partner who will help us design an innovative solution that will digitize PRPP renewal process for our residents.  The City seeks a web-based tool with two parts. One part is public-facing site that allows residents to submit an application to start or renew various types of parking permits, including making their online payment and uploading documents such as proof of residency and identity. The second part gives staff the ability to approve applications and track renewal dates and levels of permit restrictions.

Walnut Creek, CA - Contract Tracking and Management Process - WC2

Problem Statement: Improve service delivery by moving contracting process from paper to digital to reduce time required to sign, start, and monitor contracts.

Context: Almost every department in Walnut Creek relies on contracts or licenses with outside vendors, consultants, and businesses. Right now, once the selection process ends and the department is ready to say “Yes” to get a contract signed as soon as possible, a paper version of that contract goes on an extensive physical journey: from the department to the City Clerk’s Office, to the City Attorney, back to the Clerk’s Office, to the risk manager so they can check insurance, back to the Clerk’s Office, then to our Finance Team, then once more to the Clerk, and finally to the department member who signs the contract and sends it to the Clerk’s Office to be recorded. This adds weeks to months to the start date of projects all over the City. As context, a risk manager for the City might manage upwards of 260 contracts a year. Moreover, the lack of a digital repository also means the City does not have easy access to data like a central list of contract values across the City. Finally, there are real risks of the current system: vendor insurance can expire without staff knowledge, and people can change the current contracts at will without sending an auto-alert.

Technology Need: The City seeks a digital workflow management tool that can take the place of what is now a paper routing sheet to track and guide a contract’s progress from start to finish. Ideally, this tool could include a way to finalize contracts using digital signatures, to track and alert staff when insurance expiration or OSHA training dates are coming up, and to help to educate and prompt staff for necessary fields.

Walnut Creek, CA - Traffic Data Dashboard - WC3

Problem Statement: Develop a centralized way to track all of input and data the City has about traffic patterns in order to make proactive decisions about traffic management.

Context: Ask anyone in Walnut Creek from elected official to police officer what the public is most concerned about, and everyone has the same answer, “Traffic!” The City receives information about vehicular and pedestrian traffic from a number of sources, including residents’ personal contacts to city officials, an advanced Traffic API from smart-city-style signals, collisions routed through Police Dispatch, anecdotal information from officers sent to create “reverse hotspots” by deterring traffic incidents, and long-term traffic studies that accompany new development. Currently, there is no way to overlay that data and look at it comprehensively to come up with ideas for how to make the toughest areas better.

Technology Need: The City seeks a dashboard to aggregate, visualize, and make decisions off of multiple data sources. It should be available both at City Hall and in the field. The dashboard should have a map component, since so much of the data will be about the location of traffic incidents. At a prototype level, we are looking for a map-based dashboard that can combine at least two of the mentioned sources, and we will measure success by our ability to notice and improve potential hot spots. The dashboard would be viewed regularly and especially used during monthly Crime View meetings with senior management, where the Police Department would come up with ways to target their resources, like public education, strategic enforcement, and proactive direction of discretionary staff time. Finally, since this challenge comes directly from resident passion, an ideal tool could grow to have a public view to make city data more accessible to all.

Washington, DC - Resident Service and Engagement Tool - DC1

Problem Statement: Design a customer service tool that would enable the District to utilize customizable surveys and improve resident engagement and communications.

Context: The mission of the Lab@DC is to use scientific insights and methods to test and improve policies and provide timely, relevant and high-quality analysis to inform the district’s most important decisions. One of the primary components to effective governance is creating effective two way communication with all residents. this is often done through surveys and other interactive means; however, this is often done is a siloed environment specific to each agency. Disjointed and fragmented information is not able to be aggregated, shared and comprehensively understood across the district. additionally, there is an unknown gap around the penetration of outreach and survey efforts.

Technology Need: The Lab@DC seeks a mobile application and platform that will serve as the central tool used by all DC government agencies to survey residents, hold/store responses and allow agencies across the district to use this information in a secure environment. This tool will also have the capability to respond directly to residents, create customer surveys and allow residents to specify how often they would like to be engaged by the government.

Washington, DC - Community Engagement Application for Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners - DC2

Problem Statement: Improve neighborhood engagement by streamlining multiple communications channels into a central neighborhood community tool.

Context: Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners (ANC) are the largest group of elected officials in the District of Columbia and they represent approximately 2,000 residents each. Each ANC has approximately 7 commissioners and they represent their Commission before the city and before private sector entities. This District has several tools and dashboards providing a great deal of information, however it is disjointed and challenging to synthesize this information for the average citizen. Currently there are several list serves, platform and other means of communication, however there is no central location that allows for neighbor to neighbor communication, neighbor to government, government to neighbor and general information about events.

Technology Need: To improve Community engagement, DC is seeking at tool that would allow for a free flow of information to be exchanged between residents and between government and private sector entities. This will also allow for residents to engage and request services and information.

Washington, DC - Adopt-a-City Resource Application - DC3

Problem Statement: Create opportunities for residents to formally “adopt” public spaces through an online application that includes push notifications.

Context: DC residents are extremely engaged and passionate citizens that strive to keep their ever-growing communities clean, however the day to day maintenance and planned efforts between the city and its residents are disjointed and challenging.There is no formal process to be more civically engaged by adopting certain areas around the cities and for those areas that you can adopt, such as parks and certain blocks, it is not easy to search and reach out to the leader of that organization or community.

Technology Need: An application to allow residents to adopt a block, trashcan, park, alleyway or any other area will allow residents any easy way to see who is helping take care of their community, what areas still need neighborhood support and how to reach out to neighbors and get involved. This application needs to allow DC Government agencies to push out notifications to those using and engaging with the application to continue to build capacity to keep the city neat and attractive, this will also allow the District to redirect services and needs based on community engagement.

West Sacramento, CA - Gamified Community Engagement Solution - WS1

Problem Statement: Develop a community engagement application for the City of West Sacramento, that would allow low-stakes, gamified interactions with constituents.

Context: The City of West Sacramento is striving to understand the aspirations and priorities of its residents in order to deliver policies and programs that the community loves – and we want to accomplish that goal while minimizing the need for residents to take time out of their busy lives to attend City meetings.   As articulated in Mayor Cabaldon’s 2013 Ted X presentation,  the City is trying to move past the public meeting, and to explore lower-stakes approaches to gathering valuable community input.

Technology Need: The City is seeking to develop a tool that will allow low-stakes, gamified interactions with constituents that will yield insights into their priorities and values. Like “Tinder for cities,” this application would present users with a series of pictures and invite them to swipe left or right to register their opinion. Similar programs already exist; however, the City is seeking a product that does more than facilitate expressed preferences about photos.   We are looking for a program that tracks multiple characteristics within each photo to help the City understand not just which photos are more popular, but what underlying factors within the photos might be driving that outcome. By eliciting revealed (rather than expressed) preferences from its constituents, the City can enact policies that meet resident expectations while minimizing the need for residents to attend public meetings.

West Sacramento, CA - Special Event Permitting Application - WS2

Problem Statement: Design a user-friendly special event permitting application that will improve the City’s review of the permit applications for staff and applicants.

Context: The West Sacramento Parks and Recreation Department maintains all public parks and trails within the City, schedules and staffs private and special events in City parks and buildings, operates a full service recreation center, and community center, and offers a variety of recreation activities to all ages. Additionally they operate two preschools, and a quality in early care and education program serving all preschools within City limits. The Parks Department administers the City’s Special Event Permit process, which applies to public or private events that meet certain thresholds. The software currently in use to track special event permit applications is not user friendly, and does not facilitate timely review of applications or the tracking of relevant information for the City.

Technology Need: Parks and Recreation seeks a software product that will improve the City’s review of Special Event Permit applications by reducing the potential for human error, better tracking revenue, ensuring needed information is collected, and avoiding duplicative requests of staff. The software should be capable of showing all available venues for rental by the public or staff, and should include a simple, user-friendly, application with user inputs driving distinct back-end approval processes for different types of event. Revenue should be tracked in order to identify income and expense for rental facilities and staff should be able to easily and quickly pull up a Special Events permit request, or generate an invoice.

West Sacramento, CA - Volunteer Matching and Engagement Tool - WS3

Problem Statement: Redesign how the City engages volunteers by creating an engagement tool that would facilitate matching city-focused opportunities with local volunteers.

Context: Promoting volunteerism in the community is one of the City’s key strategies for continuing to meet constituents’ needs within increasingly constrained budgets. There is a substantial interest among community members in volunteering; however, the organization, management, and execution of these volunteering engagements is time-consuming for the City, and pulls staff away from other community priorities. West Sacramento has over 34,000 residents between ages 15 and 64. If just 5% of this cohort would volunteer four hours per year, the City could generate almost 7,000 person-hours of community effort, or the equivalent of three full-time employees.

Technology Need: The City is seeking a software tool that would facilitate matching volunteers with volunteering engagements through a variety of relevant variables, including day/time, duration, type of work, physical demands, and more.   Similar products already exist that are oriented towards non-profits; however, the City is looking for a program that is locally-oriented; city-focused (though non-profits could also participate); and includes expanded features such as ratings by volunteers of volunteer opportunities (and vice-versa); a simple, attractive and intuitive user interface to facilitate participation from those with limited technological experience; multiple language support; and gamified recognition for volunteers and the local entities that put them to the most effective use.

Webinar: Solving Civic Challenges with STIR

Learn how Yeti and Appledore got started in govtech through STIR.

Watch the Video