These days, civil unrest has gone global. It seems like municipalities suffer from a clear disconnect from the people they serve and their plea for improvement. Back in the old days, Town Hall would have been the prominent place for grievances to be heard. Nowadays, the internet has become the platform where you get to unload all your pent-up frustration.
Israeli startup Zencity wants to make sure that your city authorities are making smart decisions based on the needs and values of the city’s residents. This pushed the company to develop a system that collects information from across the web, and provide insight for municipalities based on resident review. Zencity announced a $13.5 million funding round led by TLV Partners and Salesforce Ventures, along with existing investors I3, Vertex, Canaan, and M12 - Microsoft’s VC fund.
Already running in 28 U.S. states and 150 cities around the globe
Zencity’s data-collecting system scours social media platforms, municipal services websites, and other relevant channels for municipal or city mentions. It then takes that data and provides insight into the minds of a city resident. Understanding the people’s chatter is a key channel of communication to the city, where authorities can actually make educated decisions based on what the residents need and want. Furthermore, this allows municipalities to better prioritize resources and funds towards immediate improvement that in return gains public approval.
Currently, the platform is operational in 28 states in the U.S and 150 cities around the world including Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, New Orleans, Tel Aviv, and others. According to the company, COVID-19 acted as a catalyst, bringing dozens of municipalities to join the company’s customer list.
While talking to Geektime, Zencity CEO Eyal Feder-Levy revealed that since the last funding round, additional sources have been added to the platform, as well as an upgrade to the analysis and classification capabilities. Feder-Levy continues to tell that during the early COVID period the city of Meriden, Connecticut, known for its amazing parks, decided to leave the parks open and manage them by using drones, which outraged local residents. Zencity’s system immediately picked up on the chatter, alerting city council, who then adjusted their approach towards the issue, resulting in a reduction of negative chatter on the subject.
“We started the funding process prior to the Coronavirus outbreak and it continued on into our new reality,” explains Feder-Levy. Despite uncertainty in the market causing investors to pull back, Feder-Levy claims that this just proves the necessity of his company’s product. “I think our investors see this. The ability to listen to the city’s issues and analyze the sentiment is not only important but necessary, and I think that’s why we were able to stay relevant during the whole COVID lockdown period.”
Zencity was founded in 2015 by CEO Eyal Feder-Levy and CTO Ido Ivri. The company employs 60 workers out of its Tel Aviv offices and plans to invest the new capital in expanding product capabilities and creating strategic partnerships.