Ben Berkowitz, of New Haven, was one of the founders of SeeClickFix, an app that is being used by municipalities and citizens across the country.
Below are some questions with answers provided by Berkowitz. For more information visit www.SeeClickFix.com.
How did you come up with SeeClickFix and why?
My co-founders and I came up with SeeClickFix as a response to closed and undocumented communications problems plaguing city halls around the world. The specific driver was an unresolved blighted property next to my home. In trying to communicate with city hall I became disenchanted with the isolating and unaccountable process for trying to get the issue resolved.
What is the feedback from people on this unique app?
Folks are constantly telling us how it makes them feel as though they are helping…not just complaining. We hear stories of how citizens are more connected because of it to each other and their government. Governments are excited because they are enlisting citizens in a constructive way and saving costs on communication and public space inspection.
Since its inception it has grown to hundreds of cities across the country, do you see it going worldwide?
We already have clients in Australia, Middle East, Canada and South America as well as users in India and Europe. We see deeper engagement in the communities where we are already being used and many more communities using the platform in the future.
What is the reaction from government or local police to this app?
Brilliant. They are able to quantify and manage their work in a user friendly software that was previously unavailable. Additionally, citizen reports are clear and useful.
Do you feel this app has created a newfound sense of community?
Absolutely. Neighbors have told me that they have stayed in their hometowns because of the app as well as built new relationships with their neighbors.
Give us some examples of the app being used successfully.
SeeClickFix has been successfully utilized to solve a wide array of community issues since our launch in 2008. One example specific to Connecticut was a persistent littering issue reported at Keney Park in Gully Brook. After the matter was brought to attention through the app, help was enlisted from the Northeast Neighborhood Partnership to assist in renovating the park, which today is clean and litter-free.
The app has also helped to bring communities in the Northeast together in times of need. Following Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the SeeClickFix app enabled citizens to report damages, providing a more rapid response time for reparations. In addition, SeeClickFix enlisted the efforts of individuals in opening up their homes to those who needed shelter in the wake of the Boston marathon bombings last spring.