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San Antonio opens call for entries to its residency and city civic challenge

The four main challenges are around sustaining business during construction, carbon footprint for energy retrofits, power outage emergency communication, and hand sanitiser refill.

San Antonio's 2020 residency programme tackled challenges around recycling
San Antonio's 2020 residency programme tackled challenges around recycling

CivTechSA has announced its 2021 Residency which will provide the opportunity for respondents to help transform San Antonio using technology and business ideas to build innovative solutions to civic challenges.


Interested parties are invited to apply to the programme to support enhancements in various City departments.


Energy retrofits


Powered by the City of San Antonio and Geekdom, the Residency involves four main challenges including sustaining business during construction, carbon footprint for energy retrofits and power outage emergency communication.


A virtual challenge Q&A session for the Residency will be held on 13 May 2021. For a vendor, start-up, or company to be considered for the programme, proposals for the selected challenges must be submitted by 9 June 2021.


The challenges are as follows:


1 Sustaining business during construction: Department of Public Works

Construction, routine maintenance, and utility emergencies can negatively affect businesses due to road closures, barricades, and a disruption to their accessibility. Customers often do not know about these instances before venturing out to the businesses, and often do not have the necessary information to navigate a business that is still open and accessible even when it appears to not be. This can lead to major loss in revenue, and long-term customer gains that affect businesses beyond the time of the obstruction.


The challenge to answer: How can businesses communicate vital information to customers during periods of construction, so customers know that they are open, and how to navigate any physical barriers?


2 Carbon footprint for energy retrofits: Department of Historic Preservation

The Office of Historic Preservation has worked to establish itself as a resource for owners of aging or historic buildings. It frequently receives inquiries on how to make existing structures more energy-efficient, especially in the warming climate. Often, the initial thought from property owners is to remove original materials, but research has proven that less invasive retrofits provide a greater return on investment while aiding in efficiency. This also prevents the detriments of unnecessary construction waste, which is the largest single-stream waste source in the US.

This challenge is in direct response to the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan locally and the global challenge of climate change and should help the city meet CAAP goals

However, there is currently no way to quickly quantify or visualise the outcomes of various available energy efficiency interventions, including: investment cost versus rate of return; energy and water use impact; and total overall life cycle impact, from resource extraction to manufacturing to installation to projected end of life. There are also no central resource bank listing service providers for energy upgrades, including City programmes.


This challenge is in direct response to the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan locally and the global challenge of climate change and should help the city meet CAAP goals and empower property owners with the knowledge to make the best decisions possible for the longevity of their investment.


The challenge to answer: How does the City help property owners and developers calculate the carbon footprint of renovation projects and suggest ways to make an existing or older home greener through adaptation strategies?


3 Power outage emergency communication: Department of Innovation

After an unprecedented winter storm blew into Texas leaving inches of snow and below freezing temperatures, our state’s power infrastructure gave way leading to severe power outages, and little to no running water for many. Residents and service providers were unprepared for the severe weather event, as emergency alerts leading up to the winter storm only addressed the freezing temperatures and hazardous road conditions. As events rapidly unfolded, residents were left without information on the status of public services, and relied primarily on neighbors, family, friends, and social media to report, seek, and find answers and help. Each public service entity and emergency response service used its own communication channels to provide sparse information, mostly via social media.


The challenge to answer: During a sudden crisis or emergency event in which widespread power outages occur, how can emergency status updates from various public service entities be effectively communicated to residents? How does the City help residents report issues, data, or resources to it to identify and expedite emergency response? How can it identify/track crisis, crowdsource reporting and share resources?


4 Hand sanitiser refill: Department of Aviation

The City of San Antonio Aviation Department manages hundreds of hand sanitiser stations throughout the San Antonio International Airport. When the levels of the sanitiser stations get low, the device provides a notification. However, this notification can only be seen upon employees visiting the physical sanitiser station unit. This creates inefficiencies in employee’s use of time checking stations for notifications, as well as prioritising the distribution of sanitiser station refills based on the actual need.


The challenge to answer: How does the City efficiently refill hand sanitiser stations without employees visiting each unit to check its status? How can that solution be used for other use cases?


According to the City, the Residency programme provides an opportunity to connect start-ups with its departments in a way that fosters a relationship and relevant development for innovation and improvement.


Founded in 2011, Geekdom is the centre of San Antonio’s start-up ecosystem and aims to provide an inspiring environment where community members from all walks of life gather to explore ideas and collaborate in entrepreneurship, technology, and creative endeavours


To learn more, visit


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