The Municipality of The Hague has challenged startups to come up with a creative solution to one of their cases. The challenge consists of digitizing the technical drawings of homes and apartments used by civil servants to measure the area by hand. Amsterdam based startup Coders Co. took on the challenge. A conversation with Gosia Wrzesinska, CEO and founder of Coders Co.: “We were not developing something in our own room, but truly worked together with the client.” Do you want to participate in the Startup in Residence programme, but still wondering what the program entails? Find out below!
Coders Co. was founded 7 years ago. It all started with writing codes, but the company gradually developed in the field of data and data science, especially in the public domain. Coders Co. carries out projects for clients and develops own products. Currently about 2 to 5 people work at Coders Co., while the company keeps growing.
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Coders Co. attended the information meeting and found out that the participating startups needed to own a prototype of a MVP (a ‘minimum viable product’) to be able to participate in the challenge. Since Coders Co. didn’t own such a prototype, Gosia assumed that Coders Co. wasn’t allowed participate. From additional information however, it turned out the other startups didn’t own a prototype either. This was good news, as Coders Co. could now participate in the challenge.
The challenge: digitize technical drawings
The Municipality of The Hague’s challenge aimed to improve the studying of technical construction drawings for homes and apartments. Municipalities posess a large database of technical drawings: these are used to determine the value of a home. The drawings can be searched for digitally in PDF format, after which the drawings are measured manually. This costs a lot of extra work.
The Municipality of The Hague would like to digitize this process. All information from the drawings should be read at once and then saved in a database. Coders Co. has experience with programming as well as graphical editing and artificial intelligence. This was a reason for them to get selected to take on the challenge, and develop a solution that other municipalities can use as well.
A pleasant and close cooperation
Gosia Wrzesinska, CEO and founder of Coders Co .: “We really enjoyed the technical content. The Startup in Residence programme itself as well, because you get to work with a municipality closely. We were not developing something in our own room, but really worked together with the client, a client that brings ideas to the table and provides what is necessary.”
Quite often startups have the knowledge and talent, but do not know what a client truly needs and which technological solutions are required. During the challenge the civil servants gave startups the necessary information and contacts they needed. And the cooperation went well, says Gosia. She was especially impressed by the close involvement of the civil servants. “The collaboration was strong because the civil servants clearly explained the problem at the beginning and thought out exactly what they were looking for. In addition to that, sessions were held regularly in which the civil servants were present. This helped a lot with developing the prototype. Moreover, we were fortunate that the civil servants created a bridge to other municipalities.”
The challenge led to a follow-up assignment. Coders Co. converts construction drawings of PDF format into a GIS database (or Geo database). The prototype was developed last year. Coders Co. is currently in the follow-up phase. It is developing the application and adding features. The process consists of building, coding and improving to a real production application. In addition, they have contact with the municipality of The Hague weekly to discuss questions that arise. Based on data the municipality provides, tests are carried out and improvements are implemented. In addition, they are in touch with other municipalities to possibly further scale-up their idea. At the moment, Gosia sees that other municipalities are enthusiastic and eager to collaborate.
You could say the collaboration is a home run. Based on her experience, Gosia has a word of advice for other startups trying to participate in a challenge: do not be put off by conditions or requirements. “Sign up, dive in, and you’ll see that you qualify for the challenge. More is possible than you might think. Also, use the assistance provided by the Startup in Residence programme.”
Want to participate?
Are you in for a challenge and do you want to participate in the Startup in Residence programme? As of June 10th you can sign up for new challenges. For more information about the challenges, register for the meetup and ask all your questions there! (Dates for the meetups for specific challenges can be found on: www.intergov.startupinresidence.com)
Blog written by The Young Digitals under assignment of Startup in Residence /municipality The Hague.