Solving Cities

Fix your city with your phone, Facebook

Fix your city with your phone, Facebook

Posting in Cities

Want to fix your city? There's an app for that. SeeClickFix makes it easy to inform city officials about problems in your city -- from traffic signal outages to unkempt parks. See how it works.

Unfortunately your smartphone can't morph into a shovel to fill a pothole or paintbrush to cover graffiti, but now you can at least easily inform your city about these problems.

Cities have always relied on residents to inform them about issues in the city. Now tools like SeeClickFix are making it easier to digitally inform city officials about non-emergency problems -- from traffic signal outages to unkempt parks -- while also holding the city accountable for the problems.

By integrating smartphone apps -- or the new Facebook app -- with Google Maps, you can see where problems are in a city and it's easy to report a problem, which is then passed along to the correct public office. What makes this tool so brilliant, though, is that it's not just city officials who are aware of the problems, but also neighbors and potential home buyers and renters. It acts as a motivation for the city to do something about the problem, especially as more people use the site.

It's this kind of efficiency -- crowd-sourcing data -- that will not only make cities more desirable to live in, but could save cities time -- because of the ability to prioritize projects -- and money.

And to help build community and encourage more engagement, SeeClickFix, uses Civic Points to show who is the most active reporter in a city or neighborhood. And as GOOD reports it can help bring neighbors together on civil issues:

Best of all, there is a neighbors app within the [Facebook] app, so you can see all the people in your community. "We can actually connect you with your neighbors around some of these issues," [Ben] Berkowitz [SeeClickFix co-founder] 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.

That 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."

Give it a try and let us know how it works for you.

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Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure