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Blog

Greater Shepparton: A Vision for a Transparent World

Kam Lasater

Greater Shepparton is located north of Melbourne in the Australian state, Victoria.

Greater Shepparton is located north of Melbourne in the Australian state, Victoria.

When we founded SeeClickFix, we envisioned a system that would allow residents to publicly document problems and engage local officials as complaints were acknowledged and eventually resolved. Part of our plan was to create a system that would work anywhere in the world. As we now launch new partner cities around the globe, our initial wishes for SeeClickFix are becoming a reality. 

We recently launched into production an API integration between SeeClickFix and Greater Shepparton's merit work order system. When a resident reports an issue, a ticket is directly created in the city's system with no manual intervention. 

I'm excited to welcome another client to the SeeClickFix family as we spread the reach of transparent and accountable government.

What if Devices Reported SeeClickFix Issues Autonomously?

Ben Berkowitz

On the National Day of Civic Hacking held at SCF HQ last spring, two engineers built bumpapp, a javascript app that reports potholes on SeeClickFix when the accelerometer detects a bump. They based their idea on the streetbump app that Connected Bits built in Boston.

With the rise of the Internet of Things and connected cities,  I'm getting excited about the idea of devices autonomously reporting problems that negatively impact human experiences in cities and towns. The following list includes devices that could feasibly self-report to SCF. If you would like to help bring one of these ideas to life, email me at ben[at]seeclickfix.com or post a comment! 

Noise Violations - City noise ordinances are often violated and many affected residents elect to document the problem(s). In NYC this is the top complaint to 311. What if there was a connected device that residents could place in window sills or in public spaces that would automatically submit a report any time an ordinance was broken? Could we start to find the hotspots for severe noise violations and more readily reach resolution? 

Water Quality - Residents report water quality issues on SCF as well. What if the tap in an apartment building self-reported water problems and alerted tenants, the building owner, and the water company?

Apartment Heating - Tenants constantly report insufficient heat in large apartment buildings. Check out SCF partner, HeatWatchNYC. What if the heating systems in buildings were configured to automatically submit reports to code enforcement when temperatures fell below required levels? 

Water Me - New trees need more attention than mature trees in the summer months. What if soil detectors let city officials, volunteer groups, and nearby neighbors know that a tree was in need of water? 

Street Lights - Street light problems are a steady complaint on SCF. If cities and towns used bulbs that connected to a ping system or added a device that could monitor light levels, these external systems could automatically create a SCF ticket when the lights go out. 

Garbage Cans - Companies like Big Belly Solar already have already created public trash cans that notify caretakers when they are full. Could someone integrate this concept into the SCF API?

Air Quality - SCF users document pollution problems, soot, and idling vehicles. What if a product like Asthmapolis connected with SCF? 

Traffic Safety - We've all seen the expensive speedometers placed on the road for traffic calming. Is there a smaller crowd-owned version of this that integrates into SCF?

Dogfood - A Look at My Use of SeeClickFix Through Insight

Ben Berkowitz

The concept of dogfooding in product development implies that the product owner should also use the product. SeeClickFix has solved real-world problems for me since day one, so it has never been hard for me to dogfood our app and website. 

Last night, I looked at my own use of SeeClickFix through our new client facing analytics platform, Insight

I'm not entirely sure what value arises when other government or individual users observe one individual's user behavior, but I thought I would share some of the graphs that I produced from my SeeClickFix activity (note: this is not my admin account, but my everyday user account). If you would like to see some graphs pulled from your own use of SeeClickFix, send me an email and I'll take a look: ben[at]seeclickfix[dot]com.

I've shared some personal insights in the captions below each graph.

You can see a spike in the beginning of my usage. I think this is typical behavior for a SeeClickFix user, as there is usually a backlog of requests gathering in your mind. There also appears to be seasonal spikes in the early winter months and mid-summer months. I am definitely guilty of reporting overgrown properties, illegal dumping and other types of blight that pop up in urban areas in the summer. I'm also walking around more in the summer. In the winter, I try to help out my neighbors with reports related to storm damage and shoveling.

You can see a spike in the beginning of my usage. I think this is typical behavior for a SeeClickFix user, as there is usually a backlog of requests gathering in your mind. There also appears to be seasonal spikes in the early winter months and mid-summer months. I am definitely guilty of reporting overgrown properties, illegal dumping and other types of blight that pop up in urban areas in the summer. I'm also walking around more in the summer. In the winter, I try to help out my neighbors with reports related to storm damage and shoveling.

Vandalism was behind many of my SeeClickFix reports in 2011, but the number of incidents to report have gone down dramatically in New Haven. You can see that pothole reports (and the number of reports in general) have gone up since I moved across town to Westville. I attribute my increased reporting to the following: longer walks to work that cover more of the city, fresh eyes on a new neighborhood, and more potholes from a very tough winter. 

Vandalism was behind many of my SeeClickFix reports in 2011, but the number of incidents to report have gone down dramatically in New Haven. You can see that pothole reports (and the number of reports in general) have gone up since I moved across town to Westville. I attribute my increased reporting to the following: longer walks to work that cover more of the city, fresh eyes on a new neighborhood, and more potholes from a very tough winter. 

You can see that my reports in Ward 7, which is where I work, have stayed consistent. You can also tell that I have moved neighborhoods in 2014 and walk across more wards to get to work.  I'll visualize my Points of Interest on a map in a future post.

You can see that my reports in Ward 7, which is where I work, have stayed consistent. You can also tell that I have moved neighborhoods in 2014 and walk across more wards to get to work.  I'll visualize my Points of Interest on a map in a future post.

The City of New Haven responds to reports at a rapid rate with steady communication, even as the number of requests increase. The timeline to resolution/closure has also improved. 

The City of New Haven responds to reports at a rapid rate with steady communication, even as the number of requests increase. The timeline to resolution/closure has also improved. 

Expanding the SeeClickFix Team

Tobi Wilson

SeeClickFix is growing. With over 180 government partners and more than 1 million issues reported, we are making an impact in the everyday lives of communities around the globe!

We’re growing our team too! My name is Tobi Wilson and I’m proud to be the newest member of the SeeClickFix crew and supporting our goal to advance communication and collaboration among residents and their local governments.

In my role as Director of Operations I work with our partners and residents in expanding the reach of our services and providing the SeeClickFix tools to more and more communities. From guiding municipalities through their launch of SeeClickFix, to encouraging residents to take advantage of our easy-to-use mobile app and website, my role is to support you in strengthening your neighborhood through transparency and efficiency.

And our team continues to grow. We’re hiring! Check us out

Can Residents and Cities Use SeeClickFix to Curb Needle Dumping?

Ben Berkowitz

Our partner, Burlington, VT, is now encouraging residents to document the locations of discarded needles through SeeClickFix. The use of heroin is on the rise in this university town located in the northern part of the state. People have witnessed small children picking up needles and City Hall has decided to take action to curtail this threat to public safety. 

The city hopes that SeeClickFix will help it identify hotspots for needle dumping, so it can then place drop boxes at those locations. 

WPTZ, Burlington Free Press, and Seven Days have more on the story and interviews with local officials.

Below is the evolving heat map of needle hotspots that the City of Burlington has access to through SeeClickFix Plus

You can view a list of reports that reference needles by visiting this page. Here are some of the photos attached to early reports:

On a personal note, I lost my closest friend at the time when I was 19 to heroin and have seen many more fall. If someone can find the unicorn that  properly removes this drug from the universe, we would all be forever in your debt.