Thursday, November 21, 2013 - By Ryan Mannion - No comments

A Model City after all - 5 Years in Open Data and Open Communication from the City of New Haven.

A farewell to SeeClickFix's first home-base administration:

As Mayor Destefano's Administration prepares to leave office a legacy of open governance and accountability will be left for future administrations and citizens of New Haven as well as other parts of the world that have made use of the software that they have guided in development.

Chief Administrative Officer Robert Smuts, Ethan Hutchings, Evan Trachten, Kathy Hurley, Jennifer Pew, Jim Travers, Mike Piscitelli, Chief Esserman and many more City officials have equally been responsible for driving much of the back-end workflow management and reporting software that helps the City of New Haven better respond to its citizens and measure its own performance.

The City of New Haven was one of the first cities to react proactively to citizen reports generated on SeeClickFix. As opposed to treating the added feedback loop as a painful disruption, City Hall took it as an opportunity to improve its internal processes as well as their external communication. Bureaucracy is slow to change to protect its citizens from single-serving and risky decisions but it does not need to when citizens show up in mass looking to help make that change together.

The City of New Haven was not only keen to use the tool to hold themselves accountable but also to hold accountable and ask for assistance from other agencies and individuals.   Regional Water Authority, United Illuminating, AT&T and Southern CT Gas have all responded to issues because of the City's leadership and routing of those issues on the platform. Yale University's Police Department and the New Haven Police Department have also used the platform to receive communication and provide feedback.  Southern CT State University has been encouraged to use the platform for their students and visitors to the campus. Central Animal Hospital has been using the platform to reconnect neighbors with lost pets taking some burden off the City. Most importantly because they were the very first to work with SeeClickFix the Town Green Special Services District uses the platform to divide and respond to issues in downtown that they deem fixable without City Hall's help. On top of the downtown SSD the various neighborhood associations and block watches that have reported issues for a large group of folks have all come to the table to discuss openly the improvement of our City with our City Hall.  Many Aldermen have started communicating openly on SeeClickFix with their citizens as well. Most recent of note including Alderpersons Doug Hausladen, Justin Elicker and Jessica Holmes. As well as State Senator Roland Lemar who was one of the first Aldermen to communicate on the platform.  Most recently CT Transit has followed the Yale Shuttle's lead and has started responding to reports about public transportation.

And then there are all of the citizens of NHV who came to the table not only to tell City Hall what was wrong but to offer to help when they realized that the City was listening to them.  The urban resources initiative and its volunteers documented hundreds of completed beautification projects and tree plantings and leveraged the the tool to bring more volunteers to the table.  Claudia Herera in Fair Haven translated promotional materials into Spanish to help get out the word to her neighbors that there was a new way to communicate with City Hall and the City never overlooked the valuable feedback of the site's most prolific users Mark Abraham and Brian Tang.

Most importantly there has been the additional oversight and coverage of the conversation and data by news platforms New Haven Independent and the New Haven Register who have launched SeeClickFix with all of its papers around the Country.  As well as the web exposure by organizations like Lee Cruz and Chatham Square Neighbors and local broadcast journalists at WTNH Erin Cox, Chris Velardi and Ann Nyberg.

The City of New Haven used a platform that could allows others to help them maintain the public space because without that help they would not have been able to maintain the quality of that great and aging resource.  The citizens of New Haven have continued to step up while passively agreeing to deal with beta versions of many SeeClickFix features as well as the occasional (more than occasional?) victims of too much email.  The City is currently working with SeeClickFix to tie into the back-office software for the building department as well as beta testing an open knowledge base for City Hall and citizens. Volunteers are also meeting to help spread the word to low use neighborhoods.

SeeClickFix was modeled here in New Haven and we're thankful and proud of that every day.

Our goal is to work with the City of New Haven to reach every neighbor and help them drive the direction of the City while giving them easy access to hear from the City and their neighbors. Much of the hard internal work has been done at City Hall to help officials respond efficiently and 13,000 neighbors have been connected. Now the hard work starts to get everyone else to the table. We're looking forward to working with the next administration in welcoming many more voices.

The current state of all SeeClickFix service requests in the past few years to City Hall are below. This does not include requests on SeeClickFix for help from neighbors or other parts of the community such as finding a lost pet. Roll over the sections to see the scale.


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