Data Into Dollars: SeeClickFix Brings Civic Engagement To Your City And Your Smartphone
So you’re walking your dog and notice the streetlight is out at the corner. There’s an app for that. Well, not to walk your dog, but to report the lamp’s not working. Using the SeeClickFix app on your smartphone, just snap a picture of the offending light post and the photo and metadata are sent to your friendly local government agency.
But, SeeClickFix goes beyond what you might have achieved with a call to 311. The app uses gamification and social strategies to bring your neighbors, elected officials, city employees, and other alert citizens into the fold.
As a SeeClickFix subscriber you earn “civic points” for reporting, following, or closing an issue or creating a watch area. That encourages participation and gives other users an impression of one another’s influence and activity. You can also follow a specific issue or location and be automatically alerted to any relevant activity within five blocks of you.
A recent article in TechPresident illustrates the profound effectiveness of SeeClickFix, as user in New Haven reported finding an abandoned dog after getting a busy signal from Animal Control. A neighbor, who subscribed to alerts for her area, came out to wait with the dog until help arrived. Meanwhile a city alderman, also alerted through the app, called Animal Control himself to persuade some action.
Through the apps comments utility, other concerned citizens questioned whether the dog wouldn’t be better off on the street than the city’s shelter, to which an employee of Animal Control responded defending the agency and calling for anyone to come down and see how “we work hard caring for our animals…” She also explained how, due to being understaffed, they did not have a receptionist to take the initial phone call.
In the end, the dog was picked up, returned to her owner, and many of the more than 2,000 viewers of the thread sent notes of thanks to Animal Control — one going so far as to start volunteering in the shelter.
SeeClickFix is currently deployed in approximately 170 America cities and the states of Massachusetts and Utah, with 350,000 subscribers reporting more than 670,000 issues. The result is greater transparency and connectivity between citizens and the governments who serve them. It ought to get your streetlight fixed, too.