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YCombinator makes every SimCity player’s dream reality with new research initiative

TechCrunch TechCrunch 27/06/2016 John Mannes

Ever wanted to design a city from scratch?

All those years tinkering with SimCity and Legos are going to finally start paying dividends for a lucky few. YCombinator is looking for urban mavericks to address everything from the creation of affordable housing to the design of public spaces in its new research undertaking.

The buzz-word smart-city is rapidly becoming platitudinous but YC will be starting from the unique angle of entrepreneurship.

This is not the first time that YC has mixed existential questions of public service with startup acceleration. The accelerator is also working on a project in Oakland to explore the repercussions of offering a universal basic income. YC is planning to spend nearly $1.5 million by giving select residents a basic income check. Those who receive money will be tracked next to a control group.

One of YC’s most ambitious goals in its latest project is to challenge itself to fit all necessary municipal regulation within 100 pages. The project will bring goals of increased diversity and civic engagement side by side with data-driven analysis.

At the state level, lawmakers have been working for years to push more data into policy. In 2007, Governor O’Malley of Maryland received attention for his rollout of StateStat. The program was an effort to instill transparency by more deeply integrating key performance metrics into governance.

Adora Cheung is going to be leading the project. Cheung previously led YCombinator backed Homejoy. Homejoy offered streamlined cleaning services but shutdown after facing legal difficulties in classifying its workers.

More forthcoming.

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