Esri Startup Program
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I had the opportunity to meet with Katie Decker, Community Manager for the Esri Startup Program, during the Esri 2019 User Conference. 21 of the more than 400 companies participating in the program from around the world were at the event presenting their solutions and exhibiting their technology.
The program is for companies founded less than three years ago that build software platform-as-a-service products and have less than $1 million in revenue. More than 30 start-ups have graduated after receiving free software, services, support, training, and content for up to three years to help with product development and feature expansion. This gives emerging businesses the tools and data to build mapping and location analytics capabilities into their products.
The early-stage companies have integrated spatial capabilities into the product offerings for solutions in mobile, IoT, real-time analytics, augmented reality, etc.
I had the opportunity to see a presentation by Jeff Hicks, CEO of Fernleaf Interactive that helps local governments improve community resilience. Jeff defines resilience as the time it takes to recover following a disaster.
As cities grow and the weather worsens, cities are seen as riskier investments. Local government bonds are downgraded if the city is not preparing to be more resilient. The U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit suggests cities undertake a five-step process to be more resilient: explore threats, assess vulnerability and risks, investigate options, prioritize and plan, and take action. Jeff recommends starting this process by reviewing local homes and businesses and asses their exposure to different natural disasters.
Jeff gave an example of a city on the West Coast of Florida. City administrators assumed the greatest risk to their residents was sea-level rise. After analyzing data using the AccelAdapt software subscription solution that gives communities affordable and regularly updating climate exposure and vulnerability assessments for a full range of climate and weather threats, the city administrators were able to see that very few of their citizens were likely to be harmed due to sea-level rise. Stormwater management and wildfires proved to be much greater risks. This data helped the city reallocate funds to help make residents safer by making stormwater improvements and implementing fire safety programs.
I had the opportunity to see a presentation by another start-up, StreetScan, which is using its proprietary sensing technology, 3-D cameras, and optical devices to detect pavement surface problems without interrupting traffic flow. This allows state and local governments to automate pavement management and better understand the needs and scale of a potential project, be it a pothole or a structural issue that will require more time and money. StreetScan's technology can show the size, as well as the depth of the problem with the road or sidewalk with a single scan. This is a tremendous time and money saver when planning and scheduling maintenance.
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