This one caught my eye because of the new Geico commercials, with a talking pothole. Have you seen it? The pothole causes an accident, then realizes she can’t call for help because, well, she’s a pothole. But what if you could actually take a photo of a pothole and send it directly to the city, urging them to fix the accident-causing, strut-ruining eyesore?
At TechCrunch 50, a new startup presented a way to do just that. CitySourced provides a real-time communication system that links you with your city officials for the purpose of reporting things that need to be fixed. Potholes, dead animals on the side of the road, a fallen stop sign, a wrong-facing street sign, unsightly graffiti–the list goes on.
The system comes in the form of an application for most major smart phone platforms, including Blackberry, Android and the iPhone. Take a photo, and send it through the CitySourced app to your local authorities. The app will access your location via GPS so all the necessary information is sent along with your photo. You can include your report stating what the problem is. You can also include your own comments, and top things off with a tweet. The Twitter integration is interesting, as this could help empower end users while making local governments more accountable.
On the government side, they receive an inclusive report that has a map of each report, pending reports, complete reports, and the number of reports have been submitted for a given location. Such a dashboard is entirely necessary, as the CitySourced application would be rather useless for all parties involved if it didn’t provide a way in which local authorities could sift through the incoming data. What will be interesting about such a dashboard is how cities can use CitySourced to provide this information back to the public so they too can keep track of the complaints they have filed or may be concerned about.
This reflects the blessing and the curse sides of real-time data sharing. Yes, it’s really convenient that we can send local authorities known issues from around the city without having to remember to pull out our camera, go home and write a letter attempting to describe the location and verity of the problem. But organizing all of that incoming data on the government side is crucial for the system to actually help cities.
And the city of San Jose, CA has already signed a deal with CitySourced, in an attempt to provide more effective communication with the public and internally as well. The concept of CitySourced readily goes along with the changing attitude for public-facing applications and networks linked to government agencies.
Ushered in with President Obama, increased transparency and communication between these two aspects of our country’s structure means that the effectiveness of government can be improved.
With that in mind, there are a number of other city-run programs that can take advantage of real-time data coming in from local citizens. I imagine that more cities will turn to CitySourced or create their own similar programs on local levels, if only for the outward perception that they are working harder for the city.