Nov 21, 2013 · 3 minutes

Last month, I wrote about some organizations that were trying to make government more innovative and efficient. The timing was apt – the debacle had just broken out, proving that some problems in the procurement and execution systems for government-related technology are so entrenched that they need to be torn out at the root.

One of the programs I highlighted in that post was San Francisco’s new entrepreneurship-in-residence program, which is targeted at startups that want to address problems in the public sector, such as transportation, healthcare, and public safety. Nearly 200 startups from all over the country, as well as from Europe, Japan, and Bangalore, applied for the accelerator program, during which the winners would get access to government opportunities, expertise, and help with product development.

In short, the startups have been lining up to grab a slice of San Francisco’s $8 billion budget –and potentially much more down the road if their technologies can be scaled out to serve other parts of the country or the world.

Now, the program has announced 11 finalists, which have been selected according to a number of criteria, including the team’s caliber, product innovation, and potential for impact. “We expect to drive tangible and measurable benefits – lower costs, increase revenue, enhance productivity and help save lives,” program lead Rahul Mewawalla said in a statement.

So San Francisco is supposed to be the central nervous system for the world of technology. It is an important hub for startups. But it’s not a city that has always been associated with government, or applying its prowess in technology to fix government. So what are the chances that this program can actually get something done? Well, one good indicator might be the quality of the finalists. And on that basis, you can make your own call.

Here are the 11 finalists for San Francisco’s inaugural EIR program.


Smart smoke and air quality detectors that connect you and your loved ones with timely information and alerts from indoor air quality to emergencies about a fire or exposure to carbon monoxide.


Smart and data-driven waste management. In the process of developing a waste monitoring system that uses a wireless device to see what’s inside a dumpster. The data can then be used to more efficiently manage waste hauling, recyclables, and measure diversion goals.

Transit Hero

Community-driven transit services that use crowdsourced data, predictive algorithms, and intelligence to forecast urban congestion. Provides transit riders with alternatives and options to optimize their transportation.

Beyond Lucid Technologies

An enterprise management software platform for Fire and EMS agencies. Its products enable efficient collection of medical and logistical data in the field that saves time, optimizes healthcare and EMS resources, and better connects patients and providers.


BuildingEye is building a digital platform to provide residents and businesses information about city changes such as streets repaved, sewers replaced, new buildings, and all of these things that maps the city’s ongoing activities.

A platform that uses mobile, localization, mapping, routing, and geo-location services for indoor mapping and real-time navigation to help navigate complex environments that traditionally rely heavily on signage and static maps.

Leventis Labs

Leventis Labs aims to provide real time and context-aware information to people at high-density and high-traffic places. Using emerging hardware standards and software, its services deliver the information a traveler needs in his or her language at the time they need it and on mobile devices.


MobilePD provides police, fire, and emergency management departments with products that enable better two-way communications and engagement with citizens. It allows citizens to be more engaged in public safety and enables better information sharing, resulting in increased prevention and prosecution of crimes and enhancement of public safety.


A platform that offers transportation-related purchases and plans to improve public transit offerings and distribution channels to enable more options for passengers, riders and commuters.


Provides integrated group messaging that can go out, with a single click, via email, text message, voice message, social media like Facebook and Twitter, and more, including digital signage. Can be used for both day-to-day and emergency communications.


Synthicity uses an intuitive 3D digital city as an interactive backdrop to explore, analyze, and communicate the future of the city. A "SimCity" for real-world urbanism, it is a platform for understanding complex urban phenomena and supporting plan development, as well as tracking planning through implementation such as visualizing building permits through their lifecycle.

[Image by Robert Wagner via Wikimedia Commons]