Few cities are as closely associated with the work being done to bridge the gap between government technologists and local startup communities as San Francisco.
San Francisco is, of course, the city where the now-international Startup in Residence program (STiR) was born back in 2014, before leaving stewardship of City Hall there in 2018. Now, however, the city — which has remained a regular STiR participant — has launched a new internal program that appears nearly identical to STiR in most regards. That program is the Office of Civic Innovation’s Civic Bridge, and it has a project demo scheduled for today.
That event is scheduled to take place at San Francisco’s Public Library, just like STiR’s own annual demo day has done for many years. Other similarities include the 16-week length of the program and the overall goal of bridging the gap between City Hall and the private sector.
Projects in this year’s Civic Bridge cohort include an upgrade on public toilets, a street-cleaning pilot program aimed at bolstering efficiency, improved access to services for transgender and gender non-conforming communities, a model for medical calls that do not require the use of ambulances, and more. As with STiR, participants work to help the city solve challenges and improve its processes. The main difference, however, is that STiR aims to give companies a direct business line into the gov tech market, while work done for Civic Bridge is entirely pro bono. Essentially, the program enables private citizens to use their skills to benefit their communities, and the participants are a broader group than just technologists, encompassing designers, researchers, communications experts and more.
While the STiR influence seems apparent, the roots of Civic Bridge date back to 2015, when it was first piloted in the service of solving problems like a surge in 911 calls as well as affordable housing.