February 19, 2016
From housing to parking, San Francisco’s Mayor Ed Lee is calling on the startup community to find a solution for the city’s problems using innovative technology. Home to Silicon Valley, San Francisco is known around the world for being the center for high-tech inventions and startups. Despite its thriving technological industry, the city of San Francisco has its problems. There are around 7, 000 homeless people in San Francisco and an extreme lack of affordable housing.
According to the report on affordable housing in San Francisco released by The California Housing Partnership Corporation in 2014, “there is a shortfall of nearly 41, 000 affordable homes for low-wage workers in the city” states City Lab. Mayor Ed Lee had promised to build 10, 000 below market rate housing units by 2020, but there is still much more that needs to be done. The local government are inviting the city’s startup entrepreneurs to find ways of using digital technology to improve living conditions in San Francisco.
In 2014 the City and County of San Francisco launched the successful pilot initiative “Entrepreneurship in Residence”, which created six technology product innovations that met local government needs. This year, The Startup in Residence (STIR) project will build upon the 2014 initiative with a sixteen week program aimed to connect governmental bodies with entrepreneurs working in the startup community, to invent products that aim to solve civic issues and challenges.
The STIR project is taking applications from startups who wish to extend the work that Silicon Valley has done for the technological world, by bringing it to the public sector. If successful, a selection of startup companies will work with the city on their projects for 16 weeks, at the end of which the results will be announced in a grand unveiling. For all those budding entrepreneurs out there this could be a huge opportunity, extending the boundaries of what a startup can do.
To other industries the startup business may seem like its only purpose is for high tech inventions and building websites, but the STIR project will utilize the technological knowledge of the startup world to benefit the public sector. “While new technology has transformed everything from the automotive to the personal finance industries, the public sector often lags behind” states Marisa Kendall on Mercury News . “The Internet has impacted government less than any other sector, including health care, education and security.”
Hopeful applicants will be able to choose from a list of ideas such as software that helps to assess areas for building affordable housing, sensors that promote better waste disposal, and apps for parking. In previous years the project has supported an aviation navigation system, as well as a system made by a Vienna-based company to help visually impaired people get around San Francisco airport.
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