The company has since made further improvements and garnered $55 million in venture capital funding, a technology pioneer designation from the World Economic Forum, and big names to its investor list and board, including David H. Petraeus, the retired Army general and former C.I.A. director; Craig Fugate, a former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency; and Judith Rodin, a former president of the Rockefeller Foundation.
Mr. Petraeus said that in deciding to back One Concern, he relied on the advice of experienced venture capitalists and Stanford graduates who had “a reasonable degree of confidence in it,” as well as his understanding of the “big ideas behind big-data analytics” and his impressions of the founders.
Japan’s second-largest property insurer, Sompo, also made a multimillion-dollar investment after an introduction by John Roos, a former United States ambassador to Japan who has a stake in One Concern. Sompo is paying for the start-up’s services in its first Japanese city, Kumamoto.
Officials in San Francisco were among the service’s earliest fans.
“I was totally blown away,” said Anne Kronenberg, the city’s former emergency management director. The city was using a free FEMA product, Hazus, to estimate earthquake damage. She found it technically demanding. One Concern’s product, by contrast, depicted block-by-block damage in a web browser and promised to refine predictions with artificial intelligence as on-the-ground reports were fed back into it.
Ms. Kronenberg persuaded the mayor at the time, Ed Lee, to support buying the services, which cost $148,000 for the first two years. The company’s predictions were to be used to “determine where our resources should be sent, without even going out with structural engineers and building folks,” Ms. Kronenberg said.
But Ms. Kronenberg retired last summer, and her replacement, Ms. Carroll, recently informed One Concern that the city was terminating the relationship, citing numerous problems. Another California customer, Los Angeles, has allowed its contract with One Concern to expire.
Earlier this year, Arizona became the first customer for a new One Concern product, which the company advertises as being able to project “inundation and impact levels up to five days in advance” of a flood. When asked how that was possible, Ben Colombo, the communications director, clarified that it required a five-day weather forecast. “Once we get that data about expected rainfalls, then we can start running our models,” he said.
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