Giant potholes on your route to work? Obstructed views of oncoming traffic? Broken sewer grate?
Report these and other non-emergency issues to SeeClickFix.com, a free social networking and online mapping tool (powered by Google Maps) that “provides technology to empower citizens, organizations and governments to improve their communities.” (See the FAQ section for more info.)
“Community empowerment” on SeeClickFix comes in three easy steps, as the name implies:
See – see a non-emergency issue in your neighborhood
Click – open a ticket describing the issue and what can be done to resolve it
Fix – publicly report the issue to everyone for resolution
The start-up was founded by a group of New Haven, Conn. residents with a knack for software engineering, design and entrepreneurship: Jeff Blasius, system administrator for Yale University; Ben Berkowitz, graphic and web designer; and brothers Kam and Miles Lasater, web-savvy software developers. The foursome was inspired to launch SeeClickFix after seeing a similar website, FixMyStreet, based in the U.K. (mentioned in this Newsweek article.) SeeClickFix now boasts about 2,000 users nationwide, according to an interview with co-founder Berkowitz in the New Haven Independent.
Lately, the SeeClickFix guys have garnered national media attention. They were profiled by Voice of America (en Espanol). They scored a $25,000 grant from the We Media Pitch It Awards. And last month, they started incorporating its RSS feeds into an experimental “hyperlocal” news site, sponsored by The New York Times, that covers three small towns in New Jersey.
Just last week, SeeClickFix scored a deal with Philly.com, embedding their Philadelphia map into a new “pothole tracker” tool (which also seeks reports about abandoned cars or homes, malfunctioning traffic signals or sanitation violations.)
According to the San Francisco Chronicle’s technology blog, “They’ve wired up New Haven so well that everyone from city managers to AT&T execs monitor their site and see to it that complaints get addressed.”
Apparently, “SeeClickFix sells professional services,” the New Haven Independent reports. “City governments can pay to have the tool integrated with their 311 systems; other groups, such as the Town Green Special Services District, pay for a “dashboard” that lets them see a systemic overview of a watch area.”
Most of the issues are mapped by users in the United States, but a smattering of input comes from as far as Mongolia and India. For now, all the content is in English.
Besides simply reporting isolated community issues, you can do some other things:
Create a “Watch Area” by drawing boundaries around a map and automatically notify yourself or your public officials via email whenever a certain problem arises, i.e. speeding cars, zoning violations, broken crosswalk signals.
Become a “SideClick,” or SeeClickFix Ambassador, and spread the word about the free service to people in your community and follow up with local authorities to make sure issues are getting resolved.
If you want to get even more involved in the process, you can sign-up for a paid subscription to the “Pro version” of SeeClickFix, which allows you to create a user account, which you can use to manage and track certain issues.
Here’s a video of Ben Berkowitz explaining the SeeClickFix concept at the We Media Pitch It Awards: