Startups leveraging the cloud to deliver solutions that solve civic challenges

A favorite part of my Microsoft CityNext job is working with startups that are using our secure and trusted Microsoft Cloud for Government to propagate and scale solutions that address specific government challenges.

Over the past year, it’s been exciting to cultivate relationships with many U.S. civic technology startups and see how our cloud platform is enabling them to develop unique solutions that meet the particular needs of state and local governments. It’s equally gratifying to see cities finding value in working with these agile businesses that are solving discrete problems. For example:

  • Insights.US “wants to change the world, one decision at a time.” Their crowd-consulting solution turns users into advisors for governments, businesses and nonprofit organizations. I first met the Insights team at last year’s Code for America Summit and they work out of 1776, the Washington, D.C.-based startup accelerator that Microsoft has sponsored since it was founded. Insights’ digital decision-making tool is now being used by the cities of Austin, Texas, and Arlington, Va., and I’m confident more will follow.
  • OpportunitySpace helps turn real estate liabilities into productive assets by matching underutilized property with the right private sector development partner. It’s somewhat like Trulia for the disposition of government buildings and real estate—and a number of cities and towns across America are using OpportunitySpace to enhance their communities by connecting with real estate entrepreneurs.
  • Rejjee is a free, national registry app with an integrated loss and theft reporting tool. Police departments nationally are focused on mitigating and investigating Part I crimes, with few resources available to dedicate to less serious but quality-of-life diminishing theft/burglary crimes. That’s where Rejjee steps in, enabling citizens to report loss or theft of personal possessions—bicycles or other valuables—in real time, right from their phone. About a month ago, Rejjee your Ride (RyR) was launched in the Boston area in partnership with more than 12 law enforcement and bike industry groups—the largest regionally integrated anti-bike-theft program in the country. In partnership with Microsoft, Rejjee is now rolling out RyR across the country.

You can learn more about these three startups focused on the civic space at our Nov. 18 webinar on “Entrepreneurship to Problem Solve at City Hall.” I hope you’ll join me at this event, which is part four of our five-part webcast series called “City Next: Citizens as Partners through Technology Driven Civic Engagement. These webinars show how to make city hall more accessible, responsive and efficient through technology and the use of data—and each is available on demand after the live session.

We’ll be following up with a case study on how startups are using the Microsoft Azure Government cloud and our Microsoft BizSpark program to creatively solve challenges and deliver great value to municipal governments. Microsoft BizSpark provides free tools, resources and expertise to more than 100,000 startups, helping them prosper and create jobs. Another compelling part of our value proposition: Our recent partnership with the White House on a new initiative to create smarter cities through science, technology and civic participation. Microsoft is providing a year’s worth of our secure, leading-edge Azure Government and ongoing assistance to empower 10 winning Envision America cities to pursue the full breadth of cloud-based solutions.

Microsoft CityNext is proud to support Insights, OpportunitySpace, Rejjee and other startups that are flocking to our trusted cloud platform. They not only demonstrate the significant potential for problem solving and economic development that comes from civic startups but they show how government can embrace great ideas and accelerate innovation.

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