(Skip the post and sign up for a campaign related Webex here or shoot us an email!)
Campaigning for a Mayor or any local elected official is a zero sum game right? Your guy or gal either wins all or loses it all. Your tireless nights and weekends door-knocking only add up to a win or a loss.
This weekend two of my neighbors returned from door knocking looking a bit defeated from their conversations. One of them expressed "Most people just wanted to talk about things that could be fixed using SeeClickFix." This got me thinking a bit and I started asking others about their canvassing experience. My neighbors' experience was not unique.
Right now there is an army of civically engaged people going out of their way to talk to neighbors. Many of the conversations are about the blighted building, the illegal dumping in the park, or street light that has been out for months. Why not turn that army of door-knockers into neighborhood surveyors? What better way to open a conversation about improving the neighborhood than helping a neighbor get a long standing issue resolved? In a time when many neighbors respond with 'I'm saving my vote as all politicians are the same.' why not build some trust and show them that local government can work?
Instead of focusing on campaign politics and positions, which often puts people on the defensive, this tactic centers around concrete issues (no pun intended). Even if your candidate loses, your work will not be lost. Your neighbors will feel more empowered and your neighborhood will be improved. The more we thought about this the more we realized we should offer to train folks from all campaigns on how they could go about stumping with SeeClickFix. Maybe it will help your guy or gal win. Definitely it will help improve the community... and that's why you're out there anyways.
If you're on a campaign or are thinking about joining one, join us in person at the SeeClickFix office or online for a special SeeClickFix campaign training session this Wednesday at 4:00 PM.
To join, sign up for the Webex here or shoot us an email!
Monday, September 30, 2013 - By Ben Berkowitz - No comments
(Skip the post and sign up for a campaign related Webex here or shoot us an email!)
Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - By Ben Westermann-Clark - 1 comment
No, not those billboards: something even better. After our recent partner launch with New Westminster, British Columbia, an awesome resident there took time to send us this even-more-awesome photo.
No, that is not Photoshopped. People driving in New Westminster can see SeeClickFix's very first highway billboard placement asking drivers & residents to report local issues through the apps.
This is a pretty great Wednesday.
Monday, September 23, 2013 - By Ben Westermann-Clark - No comments
Watch the full story below:Citizens in each of the communities can put an app on their smartphone and go to our web site and basically hone in on their problem. For example, if you have a pothole on your street, take a picture and send us your address. It will go right to DPW and a work order will be created,” says Mayor Michael Bissonnette.
It’s part of a system called Commonwealth Connect and it costs the city and its residents nothing.
Thursday, September 19, 2013 - By Ben Berkowitz - No comments
I'll be filling this weekend with two awesome TED experiences revolving around The City. Tomorrow is the TED City2.0 event at the NYTimes Center in NY. On Saturday I'm speaking on "Potholes as the gateway drug to civic engagement." at UCONN TEDX.
At TED City2.0 I'm excited to hear Eric Liu, of Guiding Lights Network take the stage. Eric has been gracious to include us in his Citizen University events around the Country and I always enjoy listening to him talk. We've made a great number of connections through his bi-partisan network of civic activists. It will be beneficial for all of us as Eric expands the network with TED. Eric also was a speech writer for Bill Clinton and is one of the most inspiring people I have heard on a microphone.
As an advisor to the Code For America Accelerator I'm also very excited to hear Catherine Bracy talk about the expansion of CFA internationally. CFA puts technologists inside city hall to help solve municipal problems and they've done a great job of getting attention for the civic tech space domestically. The world can not get enough CFA.
On election day last year I had the pleasure of being on a phone call with Secretary of Housing Sean Donovan. Secretary Donovan ignored the politics of the day and spent his hours working with private and public entities to try and help those displaced by Hurricane Sandy. Sean will be speaking tomorrow as well and I'm really excited to hear what drives him. Of utmost importance at these events is a healthy representation from the public and private sectors.
Janet Sadik-Khan, Director of Transportation for NYC, will also be speaking. Over the life of the Bloomberg Administration she has shown us how public officials can disrupt the norm from the inside. New York City is a different place because of Sadik-Khan and if you like bicycles, walking and slower traffic...a better one.
TEDCity2.0 is very much focused on people and people's effects on the City. Many City2.0 conversations are focused on the "Smart City" which includes conversations about 'citizens as sensors,' but mostly focuses on smart grid technology and the network of smart machines that will make our cities 'better.' I think this is interesting but not nearly as interesting as the creativity that passionate humans are investing in our cities to make them more interesting and sustainable. Street performers, architects and aural public space artists will all be in attendance and if I have not said it enough yet...I can't wait for tomorrow. Tonight will be a bit like Christmas Eve.
On Saturday at TEDX UCONN I'll be focusing on stories from SeeClickFix users where citizens have stepped up to help out their neighbors and neighborhoods. Not only by speaking up to let governments know that there's a problem but also by helping to solve some problems on their own. Citizen painted crosswalks, neighbors lending their homes to others in a tragedy and neighbors helping to plow a driveway are some of the points I'll hit. We've been getting more connected to UCONN's computer science department through our wonderful summer intern Zach Dicesare and I'm exited to spend a bit of time in that community.
I love that TED is shining such a large magnifying glass on The City. Wonderful things are happening to neighborhoods all over the world. I can't wait to hear about them this weekend.
TED CITY2.0 will be lived streamed here.
TEDX UCONN will be live streamed on Saturday here.
Here's my "Love the Town Your With." Presentation from TEDx Yale last year.
Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - By Ben Westermann-Clark - No comments
We talk a lot about transparency and accessibility--everything from connecting neighbors to having the tools to easily communicate and connect with your government & fellow residents. Now, there are even more ways for more people to do just that.
We are proud to announce new languages on SeeClickFix mobile. While we've had support for multiple translations of the site from the web for some time, now it's available in French, Spanish, and Portuguese in your pocket and on your streets.
If the default language for your device is set to French, Spanish, or Portuguese, SeeClickFix (as well as our many apps for partners) will automatically be completely translated when you open it.
This is fantastic for anyone who lives outside of the United States, spends time traveling abroad, or anyone anywhere who just doesn't "do" English. We promise more to come, and we'll bring more languages even faster with your help--so please contact us if you'd like to be a part of it.
And, of course, if you haven't already, go download the apps here.
Friday, September 13, 2013 - By Isabel Santos-Gonzalez - No comments
If you read our last blog post, you know that we are constantly in awe of the ways in which residents go above and beyond to help one another with issues they collectively find important. We wanted to highlight a few reports that capture the caring sentiment one would hope to see in all neighborhoods and communities. The following issues all involve a pet, but as Ben mentioned in his post yesterday, we consistently see this level of involvement in a diverse collection of reports.
I was happy to help...and it was nice to see so many other people helping out as well...great neighborhood involvement...another great thing about New Haven! The officer...was familiar with the dog and said it belonged to a homeless man, and well taken care of normally—he found it odd the dog was left since midnight, so perhaps something happened to the guy. But animal control responded pretty quickly—and took her with them, leaving a note for the homeless guy if he returns...It took a network of community members to help this dog and shed light on its history.
Around a week later, another example of great neighborhood communication and involvement surfaced on the site. This report about a loose dog in New Haven is awesome because the communication amongst neighbors started before the report was put up on SeeClickFix. The individual who posted about the dog hadn't even spotted the pet herself—she had received a text message from another individual who had seen the dog and she felt compelled to publicly share the information.
The first comment revealed that the dog, who had been in the care of a community member when the report was posted, had transferred hands and was with an individual who was putting up "Found Dog" postings around the internet. The dog's owner was found the same day and the individuals who had helped along the way expressed their delight that the dog was reunited with its family. We were also happy to see a neighbor who hoped to collect the owner's contact information so that she could directly get in touch should the dog ever get loose again.
The final post we would like to share with you is about an elderly cat named Tom. After he went missing, his owners submitted a report.
We have not seen our elderly cat "Tom" since Monday (9/9) in the am when he went outside...We are thinking he might have gotten stuck in a garage or something. He is a very loved family member and any info we can get will be appreciated...Before we tweeted about Tom, a few neighbors had already commented with the message that they would be on the lookout for him. We periodically monitored the post for updates and were so excited when we saw this comment a few hours later:
We have your sweet kitty! I left a message on your answering machine, email or call me...and we will bring him over! In the meantime, he is snoozing in a safe and cuddly cat bed in our apartment...but we are so happy to have seen this message and are eager to reunite sweet Tom with his family!! :)Tom's owners commented that they would pick him up after work. Turns out he is eighteen years old!
We love all of these examples of community teamwork and look forward to seeing many more posts that exhibit such exemplary qualities of the human spirit.
Thursday, September 12, 2013 - By Ben Berkowitz - No comments
Wednesday, September 11, 2013 - By Ben Westermann-Clark - No comments
Today we were excited to find two interesting pieces of news relating to SeeClickFix--both of which were in the same publication. Writing about ways cities have modernized while simultaneously finding smarter ways to spend budget in the wake of the 2007 financial crisis, Shannon Bond writes for Financial Times about SeeClickFix as a tool for Bostonians:
“Traditional technology targeted at cities is extremely expensive,” says Nigel Jacob, co-head of Boston’s office of new urban mechanics, the city’s research and development group. “For small to medium-sized cities there is the need for something lightweight that doesn’t cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, that is easy to use – that is very much like a web app.”Including quotes from an interview performed with our very own CEO & Co-Founder, Ben Berkowitz:
“In some cases cities are saving money on customer service,” he says. “In many it is just allowing them to provide customer service in an age where it is expected. If the city didn’t do this kind of thing, that administration would not stay in office. People, anywhere in the world, expect feedback loops for speaking out.”Read the whole article here.
Public officials also point to broader social benefits from the company’s services. “They build community,” Boston’s Jacob says.” You see conversations happening on SeeClickFix that you just don’t on standard government tech platforms.”
On top of this great article we highly encourage you to read, we got a second surprise/delight by a quick mention in another Financial Times article, "Crisis-stricken cities can fight back with ingenious solutions":
Over in New Haven – once famed for its arms manufacturing and, of course, Yale University – SeeClickFix presents another urban action scheme, in this case to report and repair minor urban irritations, such as potholes and broken street lamps. This is very much in the model of New York’s broken window experiment (fixing vandalised infrastructure to deter further criminal damage). A neglected-looking city attracts crime and decay faster than one that appears pristine.
- By Ben Westermann-Clark - No comments
We've seen plenty of awesomeness come out of Burlington, Vermont over the course of SeeClickFix. From animal issues to general responsiveness to great cycling advocates, Burlington is a poster city for progressive, transparent, community action. But this takes it to a new level.
With all the beds and couches dumped and promptly cleaned up (heck, even surfboards), you might think it'd be a sore spot for the folks in Burlington. Turns out, exactly the opposite: to celebrate their Art Hop event taking place last weekend, the Code Enforcement department created their own couch, covered in turf, with pillow-case collages of all the couches they've previously removed.
|This is a hall-of-famer for sure.|
Tuesday, September 10, 2013 - By Ben Westermann-Clark - No comments
“We are excited to offer an additional way for residents to be involved in their city,” said New Westminster Mayor Wayne Wright. “City staff are looking forward to interacting with citizens through the See Click Fix mobile app and working with them to improve our city.”
Available for free, the See Click Fix app enables smart phone users to conveniently report issues they see around the city by choosing an issue category to report, taking a photo of it and providing any other relevant details all at once. The See Click Fix mobile app also tags the specific location of the issue through the user phone’s global positioning system, making it easy for city staff to respond. Once submitted, the report is forwarded to the appropriate city department for action and staff can provide updates on the status of the issue until it is “fixed”.
See Click Fix can be downloaded for free in the app store for iPhone and Android users. See Click Fix reports can also be made through the City website, on the City of New Westminster Facebook page at facebook.com/newwestminster, and through SeeClickFix.com.
For more info, contact:
Communications and Economic Development Manager, City of New Westminster
604-527-4688 or firstname.lastname@example.org
or Contact SeeClickFix.
Saturday, September 7, 2013 - By Ben Westermann-Clark - No comments
Like hacking away with intelligent peers? How about effecting positive social change? MONEY? If you're in San Francisco on September 27, we'd love for you to attend this 24-hour hackathon in conjunction with Microsoft and Kaggle. Here's the basics:
When: September 27 - 28, 2013
Where: Microsoft San Francisco (835 Market St Ste 700, San Francisco, CA)
About: The purpose of the competition is to be able to quantify and predict how people will react to a specific issue. What makes an issue urgent? What do citizens really care about? How much does location matter? Being able to predict what the most pressing 311 topics are will allow governments to focus their efforts on fixing the most important problems. The data set that will be provided for the competitions contains several hundred thousand 311 issues from four cities.
Read more about it and sign up here!
Thursday, September 5, 2013 - By Ben Westermann-Clark - No comments
For those of you who follow us on Twitter and Facebook, you may have seen this yesterday--but just to make it all official, we'd like to welcome our new partner Charleston, Illinois to the SeeClickFix family. They've already gotten good coverage, but here is their official press release for those who are into that sort of thing:
FROM: R. Scott Smith, City Manager
RE: SeeClickFix launch
The City of Charleston Announces New Partnership with Online, Mobile Citizen Reporting Platform
Smith says, “With the online and mobile reporting platform, residents can report quality-of-life concerns through service request categories via the City of Charleston website, mobile applications (iPhone, Android), Facebook App, and SeeClickFix.com. When submitting issues via mobile app, for example, residents can provide locational, descriptive, and photographic information as they see the issue in real time. Once the resident submits an issue, the reporter, the City of Charleston, and anyone ‘watching’ the area will receive an alert. The City of Charleston 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.
The partnership allows residents to report community issues, as well as view, comment on, and vote to fix problems submitted by their neighbors. Citizens can even create their own “watch areas” to receive notifications about all issues reported in their community, enabling them to follow the progress of all service requests---not just the ones they report.”
The City of Charleston SeeClickFix website can be found here: www.charlestonillinois.org and residents can download iPhone and Android apps here: http://www.seeclickfix.com/apps.
SeeClickFix allows citizens anywhere in the world to report and monitor non-emergency community issues ranging from potholes and planted trees to garbage and graffiti. Launched in 2008, it empowers citizens, community groups, media organizations, and governments to work together and improve their neighborhoods. Through mobile web, web, iPhone and Android apps, the SeeClickFix platform is the most widely distributed citizen-reporting tool in the country. SeeClickFix supports the Open311 standard that promotes improved communication between local municipalities and the citizens they serve. The platform is fun and easy to use for citizens while being inexpensive and easily adaptable for governments. Over 60 percent of issues reported on SeeClickFix are ultimately resolved.
For more information or to report an issue, visit www.seeclickfix.com.
Wednesday, September 4, 2013 - By Ben Westermann-Clark - No comments
It's September, so with that it's (of course) time to send out our August press shoutouts from the world of SeeClickFix.
For starters, there's the Henry Daily Herald talking about our new partner Stockbridge, Georgia. Joining our many friends in the state of Georgia, we were thrilled to announce this new addition.
--Read More: http://www.henryherald.com/news/2013/aug/13/stockbridge-second-city-to-consider-interactive/
The Patriot Ledger, serving communities south of Boston, joins in and lets its readers & viewers report and track issues directly from their website here.
--Read More: http://www.patriotledger.com/news/x678159243/See-click-fix-Report-hurricane-damage-here
UT San Diego covers our friends Chula Vista officially launching SeeClickFix.
--Read more: http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/aug/22/tp-residents-can-use-app-to-inform-city-about/
Charleston, Illinois gets announced just in time for their announcement last night.
--Read More: http://www.dennews.com/news/local/new-application-to-help-report-city-issues/article_6d959bbc-0f92-11e3-aa38-0019bb30f31a.html
And finally, Alexander Furnas over at the Sunlight Foundation mentions SeeClickFix in his piece about creative effective transparency policies.
--Read More: http://sunlightfoundation.com/blog/2013/08/07/opengov-conversations-alexander-furnas/
Did we miss something? Leave it in the comments. Writing a story about SeeClickFix? Go ahead and contact us.
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