Open standards for the ways cities receive complaints and requests from the people living in them will make governments more responsive and efficient, and make everyone’s lives easier.
Read our post on Fast Company on the subject: http://www.fastcoexist.com/1680089/we-need-to-create-collaboration-between-citizens-and-governments-to-make-cities-best-serve-e
Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - By Ben Berkowitz - No comments
Open standards for the ways cities receive complaints and requests from the people living in them will make governments more responsive and efficient, and make everyone’s lives easier.
Monday, June 25, 2012 - By Kevin Donohue - 1 comment
I’m Jose Castillo, the new software development intern joining the
SeeClickFix team. If you like reading - specifically about me – here’s a post about
what brought me to SeeClickFix.
How things started:
I picked up programming during my freshman year after a computer science elective that I took ended up being far more interesting than I had expected. What followed was your typical casual hobby turned less-than-casual hobby. Last winder I decided to try my hand at programming in the real world and came across an opportunity to work at SCF. I understood their business model and I liked their take on making the relationship between citizens and governments more personal. So I decided to see if they would have me.
As a pizza enthusiast, living in New Haven has been a real treat with 2 of the oldest pizza places in America within walking distance of the office. If you’re ever in town I check them out (Sally’s and Pepe’s Apizza). I started at SCF in June and have come to really appreciate the startup culture here. I’ve been given a lot of freedom to choose which projects I’ll be working on that will directly affect the business. Even with my limited experience as an employed person I can tell this is a fun and inspiring place to work. I’ve been writing code poolside this week to implement a new feature on the mobile platform. I’m learning how to code apps in the real world and integrate features, as users demand them.
I’m looking forward to the projects ahead and exploring New Haven. If you have any suggestions, please shoot me an email: Jose@SeeClickFix.com.
Friday, June 22, 2012 - By Kevin Donohue - No comments
There are a lot of things that we love about Raleigh, North Carolina. They have an active and engaged citizenry who reported over 150 issues in the month of June alone. The Municipal Government in Raleigh is responsive and creative, and uses SeeClickFix proactively to serve its citizens as effectively as possible.
The southern charm of Raleigh offers a lot to love, but there’s nothing we like better than this outstanding YouTube video that was created by Raleigh Councilman Bonner Gaylord and Reid Serozi:
You should watch the video for yourself, but our favorite line is, “It looks like SeeClickFIx is a great tool for city residents to advise city staff of matters that need attention.”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Two thumbs up for our friends in Raleigh!
Thursday, June 21, 2012 - By Kevin Donohue - No comments
As our users in New Haven may know, SeeClickFix has recently launched a Question and Answer feature that is intended to help citizens find useful information about their community. We're really excited about the potential for a locally focused, citizen generated knowledge base to enhance the value of SeeClickFix for our partner cities, and we've been encouraged by the early response the feature has gotten in New Haven.
One of the ways that we're working to build the value of the knowledge base is through a theme based strategy. We've reached out to stake holders in a few fields, and encouraged them to ask and answer questions that are relevant to their expertise. The two themes that we've tried so far are "Summer Activities" and "Economic Opportunities." You can see all of the responses that have come in here, but we also wanted to share a few of the best exchanges that we saw. These really create the type of value for New Haven that we're envisioning for the tool as it is rolled out in other communities, and we're always excited to see our hometown benefit from SeeClickFix.
The New Haven Economic Development Corporation made a lot of great contributions during the Economic Opportunity Theme. A highlight was this back and forth with Columbus House, a homeless shelter in New Haven:
There were also a number of really great responses to questions related to the Summer Activity theme, like these from Boost and LEAP, to community member Yuriel Maciel-Andrews question:
We're looking forward to seeing more interesting questions posed on SeeClickFix, and hope that all of the SeeClickFix users are as excited about this feature as we are.
Tuesday, June 19, 2012 - By Emma - No comments
Coon Rapids, MN (June 19, 2012) - Is there a street light out in your neighborhood or a pothole that needs fixing? Now you can report that problem to the City of Coon Rapids by using your smart phone or computer.
By using a new software tool called “SeeClickFix”, residents can report problems to the city in an easy, streamlined way. With the SeeClickFix mobile app, residents can report a problem at the very moment they see it. The app will allow residents to describe the problem, provide its location and attach a photo if needed. The information is then sent directly to the city’s service request system where city staff can arrange for work to be done on the repair. Citizens will receive a confirmation message by email once the report is received, and citizens can track the status of the reports online. Once the work is complete, the resident will again be notified by email message.
Residents can download the SeeClickFix app from the Apple App Store, Android Market, or on the city’s website at www.coonrapidsmn.gov. The phone apps are free. Residents can also follow SeeClickFix activity on Facebook.
Residents without a smart phone can also report problems by using SeeClickFix. Simply log on to www.coonrapidsmn.gov, and click on the SeeClickFix icon on the homepage. This online reporting system will also allow citizens to provide a description, location and photo of the problem.
Coon Rapids Mayor Tim Howe says, “We believe SeeClickFix is a great tool to allow citizens to interact with local government in an easy, high-tech way. No longer do you have to go home and look up the phone number to city hall. With SeeClickFix, you can report a problem immediately. By everyone working together, we can continue to maintain our beautiful community.”
“Each day, more communities are bridging the gap between offline and online engagement through digital tools like SeeClickFix,” said Ben Berkowitz, CEO of SeeClickFix. “The City of Coon Rapids is an excellent example of how local government is harnessing technological advances to connect with citizens, maximize resources and solve real problems in the public space.”
City officials stress SeeClickFix is for non-emergency problems. Example problems that can be reported by using SeeClickFix include potholes,street sign repairs, street lights out, etc. If someone has an emergency, or if the problem requires immediate attention, call 911.
Friday, June 15, 2012 - By Kevin Donohue - No comments
Love this story, via College Station, Texas:
Displacing the young family from its cozy home wasn’t an attractive option, so the soft-hearted city crew chose to leave the shabby tree – and its feathered occupants – alone for now. When the resident learned why his request would not be resolved, he chuckled and said we’d hear no more 'screeching and hooting” about it from him.'"
This is a pretty adorable story to end the week on. It's also a great example of how SeeClickFix opens up the lines of communication between citizens and governments. Without SeeClickFix as a common medium for interaction, this citizen may have just assumed that their concern was disregarded or lost in some bureaucratic shuffle. In this case, the Park's Department made a reasonable judgement, and they were able to easily explain their course of action. Although this is mainly just a fun story about some wayward owls, it's also a good representation of the civic spirit that can be fostered by the Gov 2.0 movement.
Thursday, June 14, 2012 - By Kevin Donohue - No comments
We love it when citizens put our platform to creative use. That’s why we were psyched to see Transportation Nation, a project of WNYC, make use of SeeClickFix for identifying all of the abandoned bicycles in New York. They located a lot of abandoned bikes this way, so the exercise was valuable in and of itself. However, it also demonstrated the value of SeeClickFix for cities in receiving citizen reports.
WNYC received examples of over 500 abandoned bikes from listeners. However, the city was not prepared to respond to electronic submissions of the problems, and encouraged the radio station to phone in each of of the problems individually. This process took FOURTEEN MINUTES to report just one bike. This is more patience than any one citizen can rightfully be expected to have, and this is for just one of the hundreds of bikes that were reported to WNYC. Extrapolate outward from this one anecdote, and you can begin to realize how many citizen concerns are going unresolved because of the outdated systems used by too many municipalities.
On the other hand, citizens in places like Washington DC and Oakland CA who take advantage of SeeClickFix can do their civic duty in about a minute. It’s no wonder that more and more citizens are taking advantage of our services, and more local governments are signing up every day for SeeClickFix.
Monday, June 11, 2012 - By Kevin Donohue - No comments
SeeClickFix is not just a great way for citizens to get their concerns addressed by City Hall. In an era of budgetary pressure, it’s also a great way for cash-strapped municipalities to save money. This reality was highlighted very clearly in this insightful article in Government Technology.
The basic problem the article outlines is that traditional, phone based 311 systems are very expensive. “A recent 15-city study of 311 by the Pew Charitable Trusts found that the average cost per 311 call is $3.39. Detroit came in with the highest cost per call at a whopping $7.78. Given that many cities handle hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of calls per year, those costs add up dramatically, causing some to question whether constituent convenience is worth the cost.”
On the other hand, SeeClickFix is very affordable and straightforward to implement. The article continues, “Still, online alternatives to 311 calls generally are very inexpensive to launch, giving cities little to lose.” “There are almost zero barriers to entry,” said one city official. “There isn’t a lot of capital needed to offer online options.”
Our fearless leader Ben Berkowitz was featured in the article, speaking to the ability that SeeClickFix gives to municipalities to save on costs, while enhancing the quality of experience for their constituents. “There is no question that in the last few years there has been a real trend toward customer service in general, and social media is a big part of that,” said Berkowitz. “SeeClickFix was designed to help bridge those two areas to make positive change happen more quickly and efficiently.”
We’re pleased to see that our ability to save municipalities money while enabling them to engage with their citizens more effectively is being recognized, and look forward to providing this service to more cities in the near future.
- By Emma - No comments
Lowell, MA - The City of Lowell announces a new mobile app for the public to create service requests and receive real-time status updates through online and mobile interfaces.
Powered by SeeClickFix, this place-based reporting platform allows residents to document neighborhood concerns and improvements alike, ranging from litter to damaged sidewalks to illegal dumping. Using this real-time, online reporting system will increase productivity and efficiency for many city services and departments.
With the online and mobile reporting application, residents can report concerns through service request categories via the free downloadable custom mobile applications for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry by means of a mobile app, a Facebook App, and at www.seeclickfix.com.
“By using this online and mobile program, the public can report concerns in real time, as well as track the progress of their request,” says City Manager, Bernie Lynch. “This is a way in which we can improve citizen engagement and work together to build a sustainable community.”
The interface for reporting issues is very user-friendly. It utilizes drop down selection menus and simple clarifying questions. When submitting issues via mobile app, for example, residents can select from a list of issues and provide a description, including location and a picture if desired.
Once the resident submits an issue, anyone ‘watching’ the area will receive an alert. The City can then acknowledge the service request, route it to the proper department, and update the request—and residents following the issue—once it’s been resolved.
For this initial rollout, the City of Lowell is using SeeClickFix for issues and concerns that can be addressed by several departments. This includes issues with streets, lights, trash, drainage, debris collection, graffiti removal, fallen trees, illegal dumping and more.
"We're proud to be partnering with our 7th Massachusetts municipal client and providing the Lowell government with tools to help efficiently and transparently resolve public space issues," said Ben Berkowitz, CEO of SeeClickFix. "SeeClickFix is excited to see how the City of Lowell promotes civic engagement and empowers residents to improve their community with our platform."
The partnership allows residents to not only report community issues, but also to view and comment on items submitted by their neighbors. Citizens can create their own “watch areas” to receive notifications about issues reported in the city of Lowell, enabling them to follow the progress of all service requests – not just the ones they report.
Residents without online or mobile capabilities can still report issues to the city by calling City Hall at 978.674.4000 or logging on to www.lowellma.gov and clicking on the City Service Requests tab.
Monday, June 4, 2012 - By Kevin Donohue - 1 comment
Hi all! My name is Emmanuel Quartey. I’m a Sales and Marketing intern here at SeeClickFix, and I thought I would write a little about why I decided to join the SCF crew for the summer.
A bit of background: I graduated two weeks ago with a B.A. in Architecture from Yale, in the Urban Studies concentration. For my senior thesis, I explored the ways in which mobile technology and location based services can provide powerful tools for urban research and intervention, and in the course of my research, I discovered SeeClickFix. My reaction was something like this.
Every media partner or government that SeeClickFix works with comes with a unique set of needs, viewpoints and constraints. By working at SeeClickFiX, therefore, I’m learning a great deal about this growing market. I’m also gaining a first-hand perspective on how governments are taking their first hesitant steps towards creating a scalable platform for civic involvement.
Learning new skills
I’m learning best practices for marketing and selling software products - abilities that will stay with me long after the summer is over. I also get to do it in a supportive environment where I can immediately see the impact of my efforts.
Before SeeClickFix, I did community management at GoCrossCampus (an early player in the social gaming space) and worked on the educational programming team at General Assembly (a co-work and learning space with a focus on technology, design and entrepreneurship). These experiences gave me a deep appreciation for a work environment that is intense, but also playful, balanced and kind. I learnt that when small teams of highly skilled people have a human connection with each other, they’re capable of accomplishing truly incredible things, and I knew that I wanted a similar experience this summer.
|When I mentioned that I was moving into my new apartment, SeeClickFix
co-founders Ben Berkowitz and Kam Lasater offered two cars to help me
haul my stuff. When was the last time your bosses gave up their Friday
afternoon to help you move? Exactly. |
If you’re into making things, New Haven is an exciting place to be right now
FastCompany recently featured New Haven in its United States of Innovation series (read: Move Over Yale! New Haven’s Tech Scene is in a League of its Own), a testament to the palpable sense of energy that has developed within the four years in which I’ve called this city home. In addition to a wave of entrepreneurial activity, a number of places have opened up to help people share ideas and collaborate on projects.
One example is The Grove, a coworking space for the city’s growing entrepreneurial community. Another is MakeHaven, a gathering place for tinkerers who are into mechanics, electronics and woodworking. Coincidentally, both The Grove and MakeHaven occupy the same block as SeeClickFix.
It’s interesting times in New Haven, and I feel incredibly lucky to have a front-seat view of the exciting things happening around the city.
Want to know more about what it’s like to work for a New Haven based startup? Feel free to reach out on Twitter: @equartey or my blog: quartey.tumblr.com!
Here's a little contribution of Emmanuel's. Deployed week 1:
Friday, June 1, 2012 - By Kevin Donohue - No comments
Parents: Want to know what to do with your kids in New Haven this summer?
Check out SeeClickFix ‘Q and A’, on Thursday, June 7, at 7:00 pm!
SeeClickFix has a new feature that allows the citizens of New Haven to ask questions and get answers about their community. This feature, now live on the SeeClickFix New Haven site, is helping city residents to find out the answers to questions like “When is the recycling picked up in my neighborhood?” and “How do I get more bike lanes in New Haven,” along with other citizen concerns.
In order to facilitate these conversations, SeeClickFix is holding an online event on Thursday, June 7 from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm for individuals interested in learning about the opportunities available for kids in New Haven during the summer. During that time, individuals who are authorities on this topic will be on SeeClickFix.com/new-haven/questions/ responding to citizen inquiries. Answerers will include the New Haven United Way, an organization that is already actively working with the city through the Boost program to help raise awareness for youth activities, along with representatives from several other local organizations.
Parents who are interested in making sure they know all of the options for keeping their kids engaged this summer should definitely plan to check it out. Individuals who work with local organizations that have summer opportunities for kids are encouraged to reach out to SeeClickFix to express their desire to participate in this event. Any questions can be directed to Kevin Donohue at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 203 752 0777.
Hope you can make it!
- By Kevin Donohue - No comments
SeeClickFix is working as intended for the citizens of Washington DC, but don’t take our word for it. A resident of DC who regularly blogs about living in Park View did an extended experiment during which he tested the District’s response times to issues that he posted on SeeClickFix. In a blog post titled “Initial Experience Using SeeClickFix is Favorable” he writes:
“Back in April I posted about SeeClickFix and the ability to report issues needing city attention to the citywide 311 call center through it. What I was most interested in at the time was how effective it might be. Here’s what I’ve found so far... Graffiti requests on public property are taken care of quickly, generally within two or three days... Reported dead trees are marked quickly, also within a day or two... My requests to replace signs faded beyond usefulness were fulfilled as were requests to replace missing traffic and street signs...”
This blogger is not alone in the success he is having with SeeClickFix in DC. The District has resolved over 2700 issues that have come in through our web interface and the DC 311 app this year. We’re always happy to see that citizens are having a positive experience with our service, and to see that the hard work of our partner cities is being recognized. Thanks for the encouragement, Park View!
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