Taking Crowdsourcing to a Grandeur Level. It’s City Sourced.

This is a cross-blog post from Network Solution’s Solutions Are Power website that I guest wrote. Originally posted on SolutionsArePower.com on October 1, 2009.

Citysourced: A TechCrunch50 2009 finalist

Kevin Rose, the founder of Digg, got excited about this company – and business & technology reporter Sarah Lacy even said that it was on the road to being something that could have changed the world. One of the cool new technology startups that launched a couple of weeks ago belongs to City Sourced – a mobile civic engagement tool that, according to Crunchbase, “empowers ordinary citizens to crowdsource solutions for common civil issues.

I was pretty impressed by the premise behind City Sourced when they presented since they didn’t say anything that was related to Twitter or Facebook. Instead, they found out that there was a way for citizens to become community protectors by allowing them the opportunity to let the people in government know where there are trouble spots – by that I mean, things that need to be addressed, like potholes and other maintenance issues. Almost like a digital “keep your community clean” program.

Here’s how the program works:

CitySourced iPhone AppSimilar to how many cities, including San Francisco have rolled out 311 systems and perhaps are now using Twitter, City Sourced has decided to use crowdsourcing to a larger scale. With Twitter, it seems that things can still get lost in a bunch of noise & might be a bit more of a hassle especially since not everyone is a user of the application. With City Sourced, everyone practically has a mobile phone. Simple, easy, and gets the job done, right?

There’s an app for that…really…just start using the City Sourced application whenever you see something that needs to be addressed by the city you’re living in. Once you start using it, you’re able to photograph what you think needs to be fixed, specifically state what the problem is and leave a comment that will give the appropriate city department information on the issue. Overall, it’s quite a convenient tool to have since it combines everything all in one application to give the city government all the relevant information it needs.

So what issues can you report through the City Sourced mobile app?

  • Trash/Sanitation problems
  • Graffiti
  • Streetlight issues
  • Property issues
  • And many others

It’s taking back the streets.

We all know that with government budgets being shrunk in the economic recession that we’re in, everyone is looking to do more with less. City Sourced seems to be the next biggest asset to help combat grime and dilapidated city infrastructures. We know that the government can’t be everywhere monitoring the conditions of our neighborhoods 24/7/365 but we also don’t want to go through the paperwork of simply going to City Hall and filing paperwork and letting them know that there’s a big pothole in the street outside our homes, because it might get lost in the madness. With City Sourced, it offers a sense of convenience and even gives the cities a digital record so that it’s less paperwork and much easier for them to get the information they need, which may sometimes not be included in the traditional maintenance request.

CitySourced Web Interface

The image above is a screenshot of what the web interface is for City Sourced. When the end user logs into the website, they’re given this array of data that will help them filter through the requests given through their mobile application. There’s a big chart on the top that will tell you the progress that the city is making in regards to the maintenance requests, the trend of completion, and even a Google Maps mashup that shows you where the requests are around the city. There are a variety of reports you can also run within City Sourced that will tell you the progress you’re making, including having the data emailed to you on a periodic or daily basis, whatever you think works best for you to monitor its activity.

Customer Testimonials Tell It All.

While at TechCrunch50, what really struck a chord with a lot of people was that City Sourced brought up a client that was enthusiastic with the application. What was even more remarkable was that this was a client that recently signed up to be a part of City Sourced. That says a lot about how much faith people have in your product.

The city of San Jose is one of the first cities in the United States to be rolling out this tool specifically in one of its districts that they felt would be helpful in combating the decaying infrastructure in the city and has become one of the models to which City Sourced has based its work on.

I think that citizens definitely want to do more to help keep the community clean and up-to-date and the government wants to find that next tool to show that they’re making progress and not hiding behind the proverbial “red tape”. Seems that City Sourced is the next thing that will change the world…all for the better.

By Ken Yeung

Ken Yeung is a journalist fascinated with the tech industry and internet culture. He's currently Flipboard's Assistant Managing Editor, overseeing news curation in technology, science, gaming and health. In addition to his day job, Ken's the co-host of "The Created Economy" podcast, examining the Creator Economy. In a past life, he was a former reporter for VentureBeat and The Next Web, covering tech startups, the industry's innovations and funding.