[Excerpt from 4/16/18 Connecticut Post article by Dan Haar]
When I met Ben Berkowitz in a New Haven cafe to talk about the SeeClickFix platform his company developed, I figured we’d walk around the neighborhood so I could see how the app worked. The app guides users to report problems such as broken curbs and illegal dumping to a city or town. The municipality, in this case New Haven, can then communicate back to users through email directed by the app. ....
But this story isn’t really about SeeClickFix, which just launched its fifth software version and is almost, but not quite, consistently generating net cash profits. It’s about the desperate need for public agencies to be more responsive to residents and businesses while cutting costs — in some cases, while eliminating jobs.
A growing body of research shows the importance of civic links, including a study just this year based on Connecticut data, which concluded, “adults who are connected to and trusting in the place where they live are more likely to be satisfied with their lives.”
That study, based on a massive 2015 survey done for DataHaven, reported that “only 10 percent of Connecticut residents reported feeling that government responsiveness was ‘excellent.’ ”
That’s where SeeClickFix comes in, using Google mapping data and smartphone technology to let city workers connect with residents — and each other. Think Uber and Lyft, but instead of one transaction it manages workflow and communication for ongoing issues across many departments — code enforcement, snow removal, traffic management and so on.
“This is our 311 system,” said Tom Gaudett, who heads up special projects in the office of Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim.
In that city, it’s branded as Brideport 311, and if someone calls in, the city worker uses the same SeeClickFix platform. “It is THE city’s tool” for input from residents, Gaudett said. “It allows us to do more with less.”
It also lets Ganim’s office see how the various city departments are performing.