Local governments collect a lot of data, but they aren’t always great at organizing and using it efficiently. Instead of letting useful municipal insights sit around in disparate databases, some not even digital, Berlin-based Polyteia proposes a platform that would allow city leaders to unify and analyze the data that represents the constituents that they serve.
TechCrunch spoke with Polyteia co-founders Faruk Tuncer and Taisia Antonova (CEO and CPO, respectively) at Disrupt Berlin 2018, where they are competing in the Startup Battlefield, and heard a bit more about the platform, who it’s designed for and why. The company was also created with the help of a third co-founder, lead Polyteia architect Lukas Rambold. For the project, Tuncer will bring his experience working in city governments to bear, while Antonova provides expertise on the product side. Antonova is a TechCrunch Battlefield veteran, having pitched IO onstage in London back in 2014.
Polyteia’s platform is designed to serve the mayor’s office and city council alike, with a modular topic-specific system that lets cities (and towns) choose bits of its smart governance platform à la carte. The goal is to bring together legacy data stored in various systems into a central location. “It’s trapped in silos,” Tuncer said. “It takes a lot of time to aggregate that data.” Polyteia also offers to digitize data for clients that might still be stuck with some paper systems.
That modular design means that Polyteia plans to collect and glean insight on everything from local fire departments and housing projects to schools and childcare. The company began its pilot product, now operating, with a childcare module that allows local governments to track kindergarten needs and utilization numbers, making it possible to identify areas that might need expanded services.
In the town of Oranienburg, Head of Central Services Department Mike Wedel is using Polyteia to figure out childcare needs and lauds how with Polyteia “reports are generated at the fingertip.” Angelika Kerstenski, treasurer of the City of Wriezen and chairwoman of the Association of Treasurers in Brandenburg, had similar praise for its work with the new platform. “Polyteia transforms financial and operational data into KPIs and provides forecasts,” Kerstenski said. “Those enable me to control effectively and strategically, without any extra effort.”
The company’s second module, which Polyteia calls a “logical next step,” will be schools. The company is in talks with two German cities about rolling out its school modules now. Polyteia’s business is subscription based, with an activation fee between €5,000 and €50,000 and an annual license fee between €10,000 and €40,000, depending on the size of the project.
Aware of the sensitive nature of the data it will handle, Polyteia’s platform will receive only anonymized, aggregated data from its clients, complying with privacy laws and negating any potential risk. Beyond privacy concerns, Polyteia notes that many govtech companies struggle to “crack the European market” due to the fragmented nature and heterogeneous needs of different countries, but with some expertise in governance it doesn’t expect to meet the same resistance.
So far, Polyteia’s partner cities have been pleasantly surprised with a startup’s approach to their own data hassles. The company boasts three paying clients to date. “They’re quite impressed with our speed,” Antonova said.