San Antonio's civic tech residency program announces new challenges

San Antonio, Texas, USA downtown skyline on the river walk.

To expand San Antonio’s technology workforce, the city announced on Monday that its civic technology-focused outreach program, CivTechSA, will debut new pitch competitions and coding programs aimed at students in 2021.

The program, run by San Antonio’s Office of Innovation out of Geekdom, a co-working space in downtown San Antonio, will launch two pitch competitions that ask K-12 and college students to solve challenges in their communities with a technology-focused solution. Students involved in the higher-ed competition will have the opportunity to participate in a citywide pitch competition at the conclusion of the spring semester, the city said in a press release.

Winning pitches will be offered a residency at Geekdom and be connected with city officials like San Antonio’s chief innovation officer, Brian Dillard, who said in October that some CivTechSA startups, like Kinetech Cloud, a business consulting startup, have gone on to help the city solve pressing digital issues, like housing assistance delivery.

“We couldn’t figure out how to get folks in digitally, couldn’t figure out how to list all that inventory with what we needed to checkmark for audits, and Kinetech came in and saved the day for us,” Dillard said during a panel at the Texas Smart Cities Summit in October. “That model reflects where the City of San Antonio doesn’t always have to fund a solution. Sometimes the solution can be provided through one of the solutions we’ve created.”

K-12 teachers can pick up or download a virtual “grab-and-go” project packet anytime during the year to conduct their own pitch competition, the city said, and K-12 students will receive participation certificates from CivTechSA for completing the project. CivTechSA will also host a hackathon in May to come up with solutions that improve the lives of veterans and their families, as well as a datathon in July to allow members of the public to identify gaps and opportunities in the city’s data sets.