We were honored to see that Micah L. Sifry adapted SeeClickFix-related excerpts from his new book, The Big Disconnect: Why the Internet Hasn't Changed Politics (Yet), for a Tech President article. Micah, a self-described "analyst of democracy" visited our offices toward the end of 2013 to learn more about the company and interview various individuals from New Haven (including our CEO and the city's CAO). He charts our company's beginnings and the manner in which it has evolved over the past six years in the section of the book he dedicates to SeeClickFix.
You can find an excerpt below, can find the full article here, and can order Sifry's book here.
Having roughly one in eight New Haven residents as registered users of SeeClickFix means that local life works differently. Berkowitz told me of a recent case where he had watched someone on the street where he works break into a parked car and make off with someone’s bags. He called the police, but he also posted a SeeClickFix report, in the hope that somehow, someone would read it that knew the car’s owner. The thief had left the car window open, and it was starting to rain.
“In a previous reality, the only way to find that person is to go into nearby businesses and ask if someone knows whose car that was, which I did do,” Berkowitz reflected.
In a previous reality.
He notes that he could have tried calling out to people via a Facebook post or tweet, but neither of those services really have the “geo-specificity” needed. His post showed up on the local newspapers’ homepages, and probably even more importantly, it sent emails to anyone who had had issues near that location on SeeClickFix. And it turns out that the car’s owner was the guest of someone living on the street who indeed was a SeeClickFix user.
“This is something that could have only been created by the Internet,” Berkowitz mused. “In essence, we’ve created a community APB [all-points-bulletin] for non-emergencies, that works on everything from lost animals to car break-ins. You can drop a needle in a haystack, and now it’s easier to find it, because the haystack is better organized. This is a fundamental shift in the way we think about neighborhoods.”