To celebrate the addition of Marketplace.city to the 100RC Platform of Partners, we sat down with President and COO Andrew Watkins to learn more about the company. We walked away certain that its digital platform will be an invaluable asset to the global resilience movement.
100RC: Why did Marketplace.city choose to become a 100RC Platform Partner?
Andrew Watkins: There are two main reasons. First, Marketplace.city and 100 Resilient Cities share a primary goal to make the quality of life for city residents better, safer, and more secure. We think technology solutions can play a key role in that. Secondly, we know how hard it is for cities and city leaders to deliver on ambitious programs. The implementation of cities’ Resilience Strategies may take years, if not decades. We have seen firsthand that in order to keep plans and maximize value, cities need tools and processes.
Marketplace.city itself began as a pilot within the New York City Mayor’s Office of Innovation and Technology on the simple statement of “Cities buy a lot. Why don’t we have tools like Angie’s List and Amazon?” With the business model validated, we launched Marketplace.city as a company in November 2017 with New York, Barcelona, Atlanta, and Dublin as partners; today we work with over 65 cities. The goal is the same – transparency and ease of technology procurement – but with a bigger network, it becomes more valuable.
100RC: How does the Marketplace.city platform operate and how does it help cities build resilience – regardless of geographic and economic circumstances?
AW: We believe that cities should learn from each other and borrow the best. Through the Marketplace.city platform, cities can learn about the process and outcomes of projects implemented by their peers around the world. They also have access to validations of specific products and vendors, which can help cities toward making the right selection and negotiating the right contract for them. It’s incredible to watch cities post their opportunities and share results. Just recently a small city in Finland used the platform to source project partners from across the globe – what would previously have been a near impossible feat.
We at Marketplace.city understand that cities and their leaders have a lot to worry about and often do not have the time or resources to search globally for solutions that worked in other cities. For example, officials in Cape Town may not be aware of water control systems recently rolled out in San Diego or Seoul. Governments are risk averse and need to see examples and results to justify action. Often lacking a sense of imminent or even apparent disaster, resilience challenges do not always make it onto a city’s priority list. Our tools and offerings seek to change that, by making resilience-building less daunting.
100RC: What are some of the barriers you see preventing technology companies and cities from partnering and working with one another?
AW: Unfortunately, there are many. The public procurement process was not designed with the speed of change we see in the technology sector today. The twin goals fairness and transparency still ring true, but modern advancements allow for transparency while also benefiting from innovation and new technology. The other major barrier is that in a fragmented market with set budget cycles, cities and companies are not able to find each other when they need to. To be effective, tech companies must be included at a point prior to when the city issues its RFP.
100RC: How do you envision this partnership will impact how Marketplace.city works with cities?
AW: We envision Marketplace.city as a hub of resilience solutions. Cities in the 100RC global network will be able to use the directory, vertical summaries, and matching platform to source partnerships and solutions as they execute their roadmaps – and then share the results, successes, and failures, so that their peers in other cities may also benefit. As the results are delivered and technology evolves, these learnings can be recycled into urban resilience planning around the world.