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Apr 24, 2008: Bug tracking for government

Just got back from a few days in the Bay Area. Incredibly packed trip, immensely enjoyable nonetheless. The coolest idea from the visit: Mike Kunavsky told me about ParkScan.org, a "...community-initiated, web-based reporting system that tracks maintenance conditions in San Francisco's parks and playgrounds." More from their site:

Community members' observations, once reported via our web-based form, are sent electronically to the appropriate city departments for action. A tracking number is assigned to each report, and the responsible department is notified. Dangerous conditions are acted on immediately, and general maintenance issues are handled in short order. Capital repairs are scheduled as budgets permit.

Wow. Underfunded government entity, meet concerned citizens. Citizens supply data to the system, which routes it to the appropriate officials. (Meaning the appropriate official only has to be located once, rather than by each citizen.) Patterns and trends appear, enabling the officials to prioritize their efforts and budgets.

Man, I love this concept. Of course, squeaky wheel citizens will be the ones who are frequent Internet users. Which doesn't describe low-income citizens. Who happen to be the ones whose parks are in the worst shape. Hmm, I see a problem here.

Nonetheless, as someone who really wants to see governments succeed in serving citizens, I can see approaches like this making a big difference.

Government 2.0, anyone?

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Comment: Edward Vielmetti (Apr 24, 2008)

sounds in some way like two other systems -

http://getsatisfaction.com - "people powered customer service" - see e.g. http://getsatisfaction.com/annarbor for the City of Ann Arbor version of this.

http://www.everyblock.com/ - "a news feed for your block" - detailed localized urban news coverage.

nice idea!

Comment: Lou Rosenfeld (Apr 24, 2008)

Ed, good point about the connection with Get Satisfaction. In fact, we're using it for the Rosenfeld Media site: http://getsatisfaction.com/rosenfeldmedia

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