Now, imagine a world in which every resident feels empowered and can play an active role in their neighborhood. Imagine if everyone trusted and felt taken care of by their local government. --SeeClickFix.com, “How It Works”
Casual Organization One way the internet has become a significant force in our lives is by allowing unaffiliated volunteers to organize around projects without paying for traditional structures of management. Detailed in a book called Here Comes Everybody by internet theorist and NYU professor Clay Shirky, this ability to “casually organize” has manifested itself a myriad of ways.
Some have been quirky—such as the infamous flash mob of frozen pedestrians in New York City's Grand Central Terminal—but Connecticut startup SeeClickFix is attempting to parlay this organizational ability into a comprehensive tool to connect constituents more closely with the governments that are responsible for them.
Crowdsourcing Government SeeClickFix is a web application that allows users to highlight issues they want to see resolved in their communities. These highlighted issues can then be:
- Rallied around and commented on by other neighbors
- Responded to by governments
- Monitored by media outlets
In this way, SeeClickFix ties all three members of a functioning democracy into a conversational ecosystem. Issues range from relatively harmless, with issue #69395 complaining about a “bad dog food smell” in Oklahoma City, to more concerning ones seuch as a “deathtrap” intersection in Wilmington, North Carolina, as highlighted by issue #69092.
SeeClickFix is at the vanguard of a movement known as Government 2.0, whose general goals are to increase transparency, accountability and efficiency of the government by increasing G2C (interaction between a government and its citizens) on digital mediums. One thoughtful aspect of SeeClickFix's design is their choice to keep the term “community” undefined, thereby allowing hyper customization for anybody in the ecosystem.
That way, the “neighborhood” that I have set up to be alerted about could be as small as the East Village in New York, or as large as the entire New England area. One could even potentially create a completely new virtual neighborhood comprising of the area around my grandparents' house in New Delhi, and Northridge, CA where my parents live—allowing me to stay on top of civic issues that affect the people I love the most.
Here Comes Everybody With good design, an intuitive process, and even a point system to encourage civic activity amongst users, SeeClickFix has the potential to become a de facto rallying point for community issues of any size. That being said, like most internet applications, SeeClickFix will not be relevant unless it is adopted by a critical mass of users.
The more people like you and me who are willing to take action in our communities by reporting new issues and supporting existing ones, the more coverage media outlets will give SeeClickFix issues, and the more pressure will be put on governing bodies to engage in dialogue and take action.
So far the progress looks encouraging—communities all across the US are participating in this system and taking civic improvement into their own hands. However, I did notice several issues just within my own neighborhood that had been closed unsuccessfully due to a lack of progress. If SeeClickFix grows as planned, the next time you veer to avoid a dangerously large pothole anywhere in the world, the solution could be just a click away.
This article was written by me for publication on care2.com