SeeClickFix Is Using Facebook to Make Fixing Cities Social
We've been following the growing expansion of SeeClickFix, the online and mobile interface to report problems in your community. And now it's making the leap onto Facebook with a new app to connect neighbors and make solving local problems as addictive as playing Farmville.
It creates "a new kind of newsfeed within Facebook, that is connecting people, not by who they know, but by where they live and what they care about," says Ben Berkowitz, co-founder. "You will see everything everyone in your neighborhood is reporting." That could seriously increase the response rate to calls for community activism, even if they're just about small things like potholes—if people sign up to use the app, that is. There are already hundreds of thousands of users, bringing SeeClickFix to an online environment where people already check their news will only expand that base.
For those that don't know SeeClickFix, it's kind of like a crowd-sourced civic to-do list. It's a new, easy, and digital way of reporting local non-emergency problems. Neighbors see a pothole, graffiti, or a messy park plaza and then turn to the suite of SeeClickFix apps on websites and smartphones to quickly report the problem to the right government agency, which then, presumably, fixes it.
Berkowitz tells GOOD, "We live in a world where apathy is rampant, especially when it comes to communicating with government because there weren't many open channels." Now, you can take a picture of the broken street sign on your smart phone and the SeeClickFix app adds GPS tagging then sends it on to the right place.
In Washington, D.C. and San Fransisco SeeClickFix is already integrated into the local 311 systems generating official tickets with the government automatically, and in other cities, like Boston, local groups and newspapers put the SeeClickFix widget on their websites so you can report a dangerous construction site down the block from your kid's school while reading the morning headlines.
The Facebook app lets you do just about everything the SeeClickFix site does, but it also adds in a bit more, well, fun. "We've always tracked the civic points, we're highlighting them more in Facebook," Berkowitz says. Civic points are what you get for doing something good in your community through SeeClickFix. "You will see where you are trending, in relation not just to your friends, but to other people in your community to encourage the competitive spirit," says Berkowitz. So someone can take pride in being the fifth best SeeClickFixer in Brooklyn, or on Maple Street in Omaha, Nebraska.
Best of all, there is a neighbors app within the app, so you can see all the people in your community. "We can actually connect you with your neighbors around some of these issues," Berkowitz adds. If you post a comment on an existing issue, like that litter-strewn park down the block, then all the other people who have commented on that, reported it, or signed up to follow the issue, will get an email about your comment. Facebook notifications will come in an updated version of the app, he says.
This plan essentially creates a micro-listserv or Facebook group of concerned neighbors that you can reach out to and say something like, "hey, let's have a park cleanup next weekend."
We're excited to see if it takes off. Let us know if you use the app, and what kinds of fixing it sparks.