NYC’s Municipal Water Network, the Nation’s Largest, Launches Environmental Tech Competition
Applications open for Environmental Tech Lab’s data and operational efficiency challenges with DEP
Jun 28, 2023
Today the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Partnership Fund for New York City launched a call for applications for the Environmental Tech Lab’s (ETL) first-ever annual “challenges.” This new program will provide an opportunity for early- and growth-stage tech companies to collaborate with the nation’s largest water and wastewater network on tech-powered solutions to current and future agency needs.
Each year, the ETL will identify and test promising new technologies centered around one or more thematic focus areas. Through this year’s challenges DEP aims to better utilize data and technology to automate operations and enhance management of assets via improved operational efficiencies and predictive maintenance.
The early- and growth-stage tech companies that are accepted into the program following a competitive application process will have the opportunity to participate in an eight-week "proof of concept" where DEP will conduct a minimally viable test to understand selected products’ capabilities and their value proposition. Upon successful completion, select companies will be invited to deploy their solutions on a larger scale during a yearlong pilot.
ETL’s goal is to establish a streamlined testing process for DEP to identify and evaluate relevant cutting-edge technologies developed by emerging innovators.
Applications for the challenges are due by August 23 and are accessible at: https://envirotechlab.nyc/
Data Challenge: How can DEP better utilize data and technology to automate operations and increase staff capacity?
Potential use cases include:
Automating enforcement of the noise code
Improving intake and processing of customer complaints into the Citizen Idling Complaint program
Remote monitoring at pumping stations
Automating manual construction oversight processes, including tools to help automate payment processing, invoice review, budgeting, risk analysis, and engineering reviews
Tools to perform lifecycle carbon assessments
Analytical tools that can optimize disparate sources of data to balance water supply dosing rates
Operational Efficiency Challenge: How can DEP enhance its management of assets via improved operational efficiencies and predictive maintenance?
Potential use cases include:
Mechanisms to improve the storm water systems’ ability to prevent stormwater backflow
Tools to improve pollutant removal
Tools to improve the tracking and management of assets such as rain gardens, or a fleet of vehicles
Predictive maintenance tools to help identify and mitigate failures before they occur including in water main breaks, sewer collapses, sewer backups, or backflows
"By joining with the Partnership Fund for New York City we will be able to explore a range of new technologies that may help us better fulfill our critical missions,” said DEP Commissioner and New York City Chief Climate Officer Rohit T. Aggarwala. “We look forward to working with startup and growth stage companies to identify and evaluate cutting edge, innovative solutions that will help make DEP more efficient and effective in providing water and wastewater services and protecting the environment that we all share.”
Maria Gotsch, President and CEO of the Partnership Fund for New York City, said, “New York is both a global hub of tech innovation and a global leader in water management, and we are pleased to bring these two worlds together to advance public-private collaboration and help future-proof one of our most important municipal assets. This is a terrific opportunity for ambitious tech companies that are driven to make a positive impact on a major scale.”
Stacey Matlen, Vice President of Innovation at the Partnership for New York City, said, “We’re thankful to our partners at the DEP for their commitment to leveraging technology to enhance operational efficiencies and staffing capacity. By providing this unique opportunity for tech companies to collaborate with the DEP, we believe the Lab can yield immense benefits for our water network, participating tech companies, and New Yorkers.”
Representatives from the DEP and private sector evaluators will evaluate startups based on the technology’s impact and the applicant’s product, team, and overall value proposition.
This program expands DEP’s focus on using new tools to solve problems. Previous initiatives include noise cameras that identify drivers who use loud, illegally modified mufflers, and the Citizens Air Complaint Program that allows New Yorkers to self-report idling trucks.
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. Challenges have helped the regional transportation network improve subway signaling, curb management, transit accessibility, and mitigate extreme weather conditions. Since 2018, the TTL has fielded over 600 applicants, tested 36 technologies and facilitated seven commercial engagements. The MTA estimates that in its first year alone, the TTL provided $10-$20 million in value for the agency.
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 $29 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 Sanjay Swani. Maria Gotsch, President and CEO, leads the team. More information about the Fund can be found at partnershipfundnyc.org.