'Peace Corps for geeks' names 5 startups for accelerator program

Code for America taps police intelligence vendor, others for public service

Code for America, a non-profit working to focus some of Silicon Valley’s energies on local governments around the U.S. announced a new slate of five startups for its accelerator program Wednesday morning.

The winners, who will receive $25,000, access to free office space, and extensive networking and mentoring opportunities, are ArchiveSocial, FAF, OpenCounter, SmartProcedure and StreetCred Software.

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The director of the accelerator program, Ron Bouganim, said in a statement that the five startups are poised to make an impact.

“These companies represent a new generation of civic startups: high growth enterprises that disrupt at the intersection of technology and government," he said.

Nick Selby

Nick Selby

StreetCred Software co-founder Nick Selby says that he interprets CfA’s mission as helping the vast bureaucracy that makes up the business end of the government work more efficiently.

“What that means is getting some people that are in the tech industry to do some public service; to think about and re-imagine the way we approach problems in government, and to give solutions.”

StreetCred’s main product is a big data aggregator designed to integrate information from the dozens of database sources used by police officers – many of which are stored on wildly out-of-date systems – into a easy-to-use web portal. Selby and fellow co-founder Dave Henderson are both police officers, which they say has allowed them to “live the problem.”

Selby founded the security group at what was then the 451 Group (now 451 Research) in 2005, having worked in many security-related roles since 1993. He subsequently left in 2008, in order to pursue a calling to public service.

“I [wanted] to take some of the practical, operator knowledge that I have and put it back to work for public service,” he says. “And I started looking for something to solve, and I found my problem in law enforcement.”

The biggest lesson that Selby hopes to learn from Code for America is how to deal with various non-police stakeholders – city councils, mayors, and so forth.

CfA says the program will begin in August, and run for four months. This is the second class of startups to be selected for the accelerator program.

Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

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