8 Tech Companies Selected to Partner with NYC Department of Environmental Protection in Inaugural Environmental Tech Lab
Public-private initiative will leverage global tech sector to help meet regional climate resilience goals
Nov 1, 2023
Today the Environmental Tech Lab (ETL) announced that eight companies have been selected to collaborate with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to test technologies designed to enhance operational efficiency and data utilization at the nation’s largest municipal water and wastewater utility. The ETL, launched earlier this year by DEP and Partnership Fund for New York City, leverages the global tech sector to help solve both present and future challenges facing the city’s water and wastewater network. Every day, that network provides approximately 1 billion gallons of safe drinking water and treats about 1.3 billion gallons of wastewater.
The ETL works with senior stakeholders across all DEP bureaus to identify their top organizational challenges and then facilitates accelerated, iterative tests to determine how new technologies can best address agency needs. This streamlined testing process, with distinct go/no-go decision points, fosters a deep understanding of which tools can best position DEP to operationally respond to the impacts of climate change and other twenty-first century challenges.
This year’s Operational Efficiency Challenge and Data Utilization Challenge garnered nearly 100 applications from over twenty countries. A team of DEP decision makers and private sector experts assessed applicants based on their technology’s potential impact, product, team, and overall value proposition. Through this rigorous review process, eight companies were selected to deploy their technologies over an eight-week “proof of concept” period starting in October 2023. Successful companies may be invited to deploy their work on a larger scale in a yearlong pilot.
Operational Efficiency Challenge proof of concept winners include:
Gybe (Portland, United States) – Automatically monitors a variety of water quality parameters across entire Watersheds, Lakes, Rivers and Coastal areas, using data from satellites and non-contact hyperspectral sensors, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.
Knaq (New York City, United States) – Uses non-invasive hardware installed on industrial equipment coupled with a software platform to provide real time data, alerting, and predictive maintenance recommendations.
Near Space Labs (Brooklyn, United States) – Flies proprietary zero-emission robots to the stratosphere to capture, process, and deliver high-quality earth imagery to augment infrastructure resiliency initiatives.
SENTRY (Charlottetown, Canada) – Utilizes a bio-electrode sensor platform to provide real-time, reliable wastewater quality data. These sensors accurately monitor the strength of incoming wastewater and allow operations to save costs by reducing energy and chemical use.
SewerAI (Walnut Creek, United States) – Streamlines workflows using artificial intelligence to review CCTV videos of pipes, modelling manholes with 3D technology, and automating data quality control (QC). This frees up talented engineers to spend less time on tedious manual tasks and more time on what matters most - prioritizing fixes and ensuring a healthy future for the community.
VAPAR (Sydney, Australia) – Creating the fastest way to the right sewer pipe repair decision – using deep learning to find defects in sewer pipes inspection videos and standardizing follow on repair decisions.
Data Challenge proof of concept winners include:
InPipe Energy (San Francisco, United States) – Has developed the HydroXS, a first-of-its-kind product line that uses micro-hydropower to create reliable renewable energy from water pipelines.
Transcend Software Inc. (Princeton, United States) – Integrates process, mechanical, electrical, and civil engineering calculations and decisions in a cloud-based generative design software to automatically generate complete and accurate preliminary engineering designs for critical infrastructure.
Rohit T. Aggarwala, DEP Commissioner and New York City Chief Climate Officer, said, “We are excited to engage with these eight companies and their new technologies to determine if they would be helpful to us in delivering a reliable supply of high-quality water and protecting public health in New York City. We are already using noise cameras to deter vehicles with illegally modified mufflers and we have deployed robotic water quality monitoring stations on our reservoirs and I’d like to thank the Partnership Fund for New York City for facilitating nearly 100 applications from the global tech sector to help ensure we are utilizing the best technologies in order to fulfill our critical missions.”
Maria Gotsch, President and CEO of the Partnership Fund for New York City, said, “New York City’s water system is rightly renowned as a global leader, and we’re excited to work with DEP and this impressive group of technologists to ensure it leads the way in sustainable practices and innovation. It is inspiring to see companies from all over the world coming to New York to help build a sustainable future for the city’s most critical infrastructure.”
Stacey Matlen, Vice President of Innovation at the Partnership for New York City, said, “By leveraging the Partnership Fund’s network to identify and evaluate cutting edge technologies, the Environmental Tech Lab is well-positioned to enhance the ability of NYC’s critical infrastructure to respond to and prepare for the ongoing climate crisis. We are thrilled by the dynamic engagement from all DEP leadership and operations staff to select and test technologies most integral to their teams, and we look forward to collaborating with the agency and participating companies on the exciting work ahead.”
The ETL is modeled after the successful Transit Tech Lab (TTL)—a collaboration between the Partnership for New York City and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)—which enables regional transportation agencies to test new technologies that modernize public transit and improve the customer experience. Winners from the Transit Tech Lab program have helped the regional transportation network improve subway signaling, curb management, transit accessibility, and enhance operational efficiencies. Since 2018, the TTL has fielded over 750 applicants, tested 51 technologies, and facilitated seven commercial engagements.
To learn more about the ETL visit https://envirotechlab.nyc/.
About the NYC Department of Environmental Protection
DEP manages New York City’s water supply, providing approximately 1 billion gallons of high-quality drinking water each day to nearly 10 million residents, including 8.8 million in New York City. The water is delivered from a watershed that extends more than 125 miles from the city, comprising 19 reservoirs and three controlled lakes. Approximately 7,000 miles of water mains, tunnels and aqueducts bring water to homes and businesses throughout the five boroughs, and 7,500 miles of sewer lines and 96 pump stations take wastewater to 14 in-city treatment plants. DEP also protects the health and safety of New Yorkers by enforcing the Air and Noise Codes and asbestos rules. DEP has a robust capital program, with a planned $31 billion in investments over the next 10 years. For more information, visit nyc.gov/dep, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.
About the Partnership Fund for New York City
The Partnership Fund for New York City is the $130 million investment arm of the Partnership for New York City, New York’s leading business organization. The Fund’s mission is to engage the City’s business leaders to identify and support promising entrepreneurs — in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors – to create jobs, spur new business and expand opportunities for New Yorkers to participate in the City’s economy. As an “evergreen” fund, realized gains are continuously reinvested. The Partnership Fund Board is led by co-chairs Tarek Sherif and Neil Blumenthal. Maria Gotsch, President and CEO, leads the team. More information about the Fund can be found at www.partnershipfundnyc.org.