In 2009, “melissa”, a resident of New Haven, CT, reported a dangerous street crossing on the corner of Whitney and Audubon Streets in her neighborhood on SeeClickFix. Since 2008, residents in New Haven have been able to use SeeClickFix to publicly report non-emergency, quality-of-life concerns to their local government officials. The platform, now used in thousands of municipalities around the world, also provides tools for municipalities to manage, address and update the community about the issues that matter to them.

By June 2014, the City of New Haven had built a brand new crosswalk on Whitney and Audubon Streets, fit with bump-outs, trees, and lights in response to “melissa” and others’ reports.

This is a story about a community success. And, more specifically, about how technology and media can come together to contribute to these kinds of making our neighborhoods better places to live.

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One mission of community journalism is to discover and highlight local issues that matter the most to a city or neighborhood in order to spur further conversation. I’m no journalist, but I can imagine that can be a difficult row to hoe. Not only can it be challenging to identify and understand specific problems within each community, but garnering consensus from and opinions of individuals whom are affected by that problem requires additional time and resources.

Applications like SeeClickFix are rapidly changing what this process looks like. Citizens now have the ability to report, vote on, and discuss issues that affect their day-to-day lives on a platform where their local government is expected to listen and respond. For journalists, this is a space where both citizens and government communicate — providing immediate, real-time updates, all in one place.

Let’s take a look at “melissa’s” report again in New Haven as an example.
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This is “melissa’s” original SeeClickFix report, including a description and location (and, typically, a picture)

Once a problem is reported, any SeeClickFix user can vote and comment on the issue. The city can then mark the issue “Acknowledged” and include a comment to indicate that they have taken note of the issue. Once fixed, the city marks the issue as “Closed” — although to enhance transparency, citizens are allowed to “Re-Open” issues if they feel that the issue has not adequately been addressed.

 

The SeeClickFix Civic Engagement Map

 

Throughout the lifespan of this particular issue on Whitney and Audubon Streets, the issue had been reported 5 times: receiving 102 votes, 14,510 views, and 122 comments. The local newspaper, The New Haven Independent, had reported on the issue on three separate occasions: 1) when a group of well-intentioned citizens painted a makeshift crosswalk at the intersection; 2) when a pedestrian was injured by a collision with a truck at the intersection; and 3) when the issue was finally closed and the crosswalk was planned to be built. All three articles referred in the body or comments back to the issues reported on SeeClickFix.

Platforms like SeeClickFix provide community journalists with a wealth of centrally-located, valuable information. With public comments from citizens, government officials, and pictures, anyone can immediately get an intimate look — from numerous perspectives — into an issue that folks in a community are talking about.

The exchange between a platform like this and community news, however, isn’t just one-way. By utilizing the information from reported issues on SeeClickFix and linking to those issues in subsequent articles, community journalists provide readers  with a place to engage. This place goes beyond a conventional “comment section” to provide an opportunity for other citizens, media outlets, and city officials to gather and begin a conversation. It’s a space where a reader’s voice can be amplified and heard. It’s a place where each voice can make an impact.

Furthermore, this exchange isn’t just mutually beneficial, it’s cyclical. Community journalists can utilize the information SeeClickFix provides to produce media for their audiences to consume. This media can direct vocal, passionate audiences back to SeeClickFix, where their opinions will be listened to. These opinions can then be used again by community journalists to continue to fuel the story and spur more conversation. This kind of feedback loop between technology and media is so responsive that it is almost instantaneous.

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How does a community change when citizen engagement, community journalism, and technology intersect? In the case of New Haven and many other municipalities that use SeeClickFix, crosswalks get built. In other words, tangible change can be built on a foundation of public communication and transparency.

In addition, by plugging into a platform where citizens, media, and the local government are engaging openly, community journalism can ensure that the most important issues are elevated and all the voices involved can be heard.


Additional Resources

SeeClickFix Awesome Citizen Toolbox. You are an awesome citizen. Here are some tools to keep handy:

[stag_icon icon=”mobile” url=”http://en.seeclickfix.com/apps” size=”50px” new_window=”yes”] SeeClickFix Mobile App

Want to start reporting issues? Download SeeClickFix for Android or iPhone:

available-on-iphone-app-store-logo

google-play-logo

[stag_icon icon=”globe” url=”http://blog.seeclickfix.com/how-to-put-a-seeclickfix-widget-on-your-website” size=”50px” new_window=”yes”]SeeClickFix Website Widget

Are you a blog, newspaper, or municipality that wants citizens to report issues on your website? Follow these super simple steps to embed the SeeClickFix website widget onto your website.

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[stag_icon icon=”twitter-square” url=”https://twitter.com/seeclickfix” size=”50px” new_window=”yes”] Follow SeeClickFix on Twitter

Check out their fun tweets & look out for giveaways!

Follow & Tweet @SeeClickFix

[stag_icon icon=”suitcase” url=”http://seeclickfix.com/jobs” size=”50px” new_window=”yes”] SeeClickFix is Growing!

SeeClickFix recently announced a $1.6 million funding round (#humblebrag). As CEO Ben Berkowitz said: “Our expansion is a testament to the growing ecosystem of technology startups in New Haven and the talent and resources that have supported our growth. We are proud to be a part of such a vibrant and innovative community.”

SeeClickFix is hiring for a variety of positions, in particular for more Partner Development Representatives!

If you’re interested & awesome, email ben@seeclickfix.com.


Government, Citizens & Technology in the news

The Invention of 3-1-1 and the City Services Revolution
Civic Tech and Engagement: How SeeClickFix is Changing the Fabric of Local Reality

SeeClickGrow | New Haven Independent
6 Years On, SeeClickFix Has Changed New Haven | New Haven Independent

SeeClickFix’s New $1.6 Million in Funding a Good Sign for Local Govs